Well, I had to completely re-write this post after visiting his homepage and finding out that Larry died last month. I had a really hard time believing I missed that news, I have been such a big fan of Larry's for years, and he was a favorite of my family's as well. I hadn't thought about Larry for quite a while now, and although I knew he had been in very poor health for years, it still sent a chill down my spine to visit his website and read that he had passed away. Larry is widely considered the founding father of Christian rock & roll, and had a considerable impact on popular music, not just Christian music as shown by this entry in Wikipedia:
By 1971, TIME magazine was reporting on the growth of the Jesus Movement, and while Larry Norman took some steps to distance himself from it, he had become the most popular musician among its followers. TIME Magazine reported that Eric Clapton had become a "convert of the Jesus Movement," and a 1971 cover article also named members of Peter, Paul, and Mary and Fleetwood Mac within its sphere of influence. Johnny Cash was also named; he eventually produced the film/double album The Gospel Road.
Norman sought to help musicians who were struggling with drug problems in the 1970s. He began a Bible study called "The Vineyard" for actors and musicians, and as it grew Folk/rock performer Bob Dylan became one of the attendees. Dylan subsequently became familiar with Norman's records Only Visiting This Planet and So Long Ago the Garden. During this period, he released three albums that were stylistically similar to Norman's: Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980), and Shot of Love (1981).
While Norman said in a 1984 interview that he didn't know Dylan very well, he remembered thinking "This is the greatest album I've ever heard"" when Slow Train Coming was released. He said of the album "I'll never write one as good as that, he'll never write one as good as that, - nobody will. It touched me in every area. You know men in conflict, like Dylan was when he was dying to self and becoming a Christian are very interesting...We were all afraid that he would be overly affected by the evangelical simplicity of American mindlessness and write an album that wasn't really worth his gift for poetry. That album is like a prayer, it's a beautiful prayer, a social communion. It's a communion for all the disenchanted people that are angry."
Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and American singer-songwriter John Mellencamp have also claimed to be fans of Larry Norman's music. Over 300 artists have covered his songs, including Sammy Davis, Jr.
So, even though you might not be Christian, or even religious for that matter, Larry Norman's music can sometimes reach beyond that and be impactful in many ways. Rest in peace Larry, you're in a much better place than all of us right now.
I Wish We'd All Been Ready
I've Got To Learn To Live Without You
I Love You
Just Like A Woman (Bob Dylan cover)
Larry Norman.com *** Myspace *** CD's *** Hype Machine
Blog postings about Larry's passing: Heart On A Stick , Pitchfork , Idolator