Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thank You Larry Norman For Visiting This Planet

I was just taking a stroll down 80’s music memory lane. No, I don’t do that very often. Yes, Kim was a DJ at a roller skating rink in high school. Anyway...

I just found out that Larry Norman passed away on February 24. He was only 60. I had heard that his health was failing in recent years. I think that he had trouble getting the necessary medication needed and suffered from financial hardship.

When I became a Christian in 1986, Larry quickly became a staple in my walkman. By that time he was already a folk rocker throwback from the 60’s. But this guy loved Jesus, and it came through loud and clear. He epitomized the power of the Jesus Movement–Jesus was coming back at any moment, so let’s hurry up and get as many people saved as possible.

It was kind of odd to be a teenager that liked Larry Norman when everyone else was listening to Iron Maiden and Van Halen. If you had strict Christian parents maybe you could sneek in a little Stryper (who oddly enough covered one of Norman’s songs). I don’t know; I was just really gripped by his lyrics and soulful melodies. I loved the way he communicated the love of God at a street level. Who else could sing about getting gonorrhea on Valentine’s Day?

Farewell Larry. Thank you for helping me love God and man. Can’t wait to meet you in person.

Personal favorites:

These are some of Larry’s final words before he left this world.

“I feel like a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home . . . I’d like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the Web site, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.”


Brenda said...

Thanks for this tribute, Matt. As a boomer and former Jesus freak, he was huge for me in my spiritual journey. I posted this on my facebook too. I was hoping to see more people write remembrances of him.
blessings to you!

LeeAnn said...

God IS great and showed in this life. I was a fairly new Christian at 22, 19 years ago, and had felt severely alienated by certain Christians family members, and attended a "no secular music" policy church. I felt from them that I had to change to be acceptable.

Larry was at the local radio station and I called telling him that because he made relatable music, I felt valid: God saw me. The fact that he was intently listening to understand what I said was palpable. I've never felt that someone was so strongly trying to hear and understand me. I still need and benefit from hearing him sing, and talk in interviews. He resonates. A humble, sensitive soul. God showed Himself, -His own care, through Larry.

Now listening to him is an emotional thing. He speaks of things I need encouragement in, as God leads me to know mentally ill and homeless people. As I listen to any of his music, esp. songs like Why Don't You Look Into Jesus, (about Janis Joplin: he wrote graciously about her, considering her life) he reminds me of an understanding, older brother who does not shy away from complexities and questions. Christlike. So valuable. He allowed God to use him, and he tied up some loose ends between God and the unknowns of relating with obstacles like talking to people on the street. A friend who had not heard of him wondered why is could not pay for medicines, since he obviously was so talented, etc. From what Larry said and exhorted us all to do, it's safe to say he gave away a lot of income that he could have used himself. I'm thanking God for his example of selflessness. It's very counter American culture. God's hand was on Him, and I'm so happy for him now!

For a 2 hour interview that is worth the time: http://www.drewmarshall.ca/listen2008.html#080301. Part one is toward the top of the page, and two further down.