Thursday, February 28, 2008

The KKK or...

Planned Parenthood? "...this is the first time I've had a donor call and make this kind of request, so I'm excited, and want to make sure I don't leave anything out."

What was it the caller wanted?

"the less black kids out there the better." (via Kathy Shaidle)

You can hear it here. (you should listen to it quickly -- the abortion zealots will shut it down quickly.) The conversation begins at about the 2 minute mark.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

LN: My Story.

It was October 1978 -- I was devouring the Bible and meeting with a diverse group of young believers. My girlfriend was away at James Madison University and I was going to school at George Mason.

I was really into music -- Neil Young, Bob Dylan, the Who, Springsteen, the Rolling Stones. Dylan was just about to break into his "Gospel Phase" and I had never heard of "Christian Music."

I mean, I really dug the Bible and Jesus and even Moses and all the books of the Old Testament. But Christian Music. Forget it. It was musty sounding hymns.

(Yeah, when I was younger we had folk mass -- the songs of Ray Repp -- but I hadn't connected that with "Christian Music.")

My girlfriend's brother, Ken (a fellow believer) and I drove down to JMU to visit her and some friends. While there, she brought me to see this gnarlly old 5th or 6th year student, Robbie Pitts. (at that time he seemed old -- I was 19.) Anyway, we were all hanging around and my girlfriend begged him to play "that guy." He asked me if I'd ever heard of Larry Norman. Larry Norman, I thought -- it sounds like an accountant. That's not the name of a rocker...

And then he put on a record - "So Long Ago...the Garden" and b.l.e.w..m.e..a.w.a.y....

I remember it was "Garden" because of the painting on the back of the snake skin boots and the apple. (to this day I've wanted snake skin boots) I asked Robbie where he found this album -- it was great. Then he put on "In another Land." Awesome...

It was Neil Young, the Rolling Stones and Leon Russell all rolled into one. And singing a true song about God and life and Christ. I had to get me a copy.

The next week, I looked up "Bible bookstore" in the yellow pages and found "Words of Wisdom" in Annandale. They had about 100 to 150 albums and none of them looked promising. But there in the bin was one album with that guy with the blond hair on the cover (the picture on the left) wearing something that looked like Capt. America, so I snatched it up.

This one was much rougher -- it was Street Level -- intentionally produced to sound like a demo or bootleg album. And that gave it even more cache. But LN albums were hard to find and so we swapped cassettes until we could find one here or there. And in time, from reading the liner notes of the albums, I learned about G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, Flannery O'Connor, Malcolm Muggeridge, Francis Schaeffer and others.

In short, Larry Norman helped keep me sane in a world of tvpreachers and intellectual-hating pentecostals and Bible-hating mainliners and the Religious Right and the Religious Left.

* * *

He had a great background in roots music. There was a great used record store in Georgetown a long time ago and the owner said Larry would come in and clean out all kinds of great blues records that no one was listening to anymore.

He was incredibly paranoid and delusional -- even a devoted fan such as I could recognize that. I later heard that he was bi-polar, that he had suffered a brain injury. Even so, there was something about this that gave me the courage to stand up in church and say, the bishop has no clothes.

He was a goofball -- funny and witty. Very self-deprecating. But on the other hand, he was an incredible self-promoter. You always knew he was "the Father of Jesus Rock."

He was creative and inspired and had a great knack for finding and promoting talent. Look at the "stable" of Solid Rock musicians: Randy Stonehill, Mark Heard, Steve Camp, the group Daniel Amos. Then Malcolm and Allwyn, Sheila Walsh, the Barrett Band. There were others I'm sure I'm leaving out (Lyrix?)

And the few times I saw him in concert, he was incredible. Not necessarily the performances, although these were good. What really set him apart is that he would spend hours after a show meeting with people and talking to them about Christ and their problems and praying for them. Hours -- until the early hours of the morning. If you could wait to see him, he would stop and take time with you.

* * *

In time, Larry Norman even led me back to the Hymns.

But knowing Robbie, I'm sure these were the first lines of Larry Norman I heard:

last night i had that same old dream
it rocked me in my sleep
and left me the impression
that the sandman plays for keeps...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Be Careful What You Sign by Larry Norman.

Here's a video I put together tonight to one of my favorite LN songs, "Be Careful What You Sign" from the "So Long Ago the Garden" album; 1973.

Note - video had a mistake and was slightly revised.
Why Don't You Look Into Jesus by Larry Norman.

First, this is probably all I'll be writing about for awhile -- Larry Norman had a profound impact on my life. This song sort of epitomizes what he was about. He wrote this back in the 60's when you couldn't say some of this stuff on the radio. Much less in a song about Jesus.

Sipping whiskey from a paper cup,
You drown your sorrows till you can't get up,
Take a look at what you've done to yourself,
Why don't you put the bottle back on she shelf,

Yellow fingers from your cigarettes,
Your hands are shaking while your body sweats,
Why don't you look into Jesus, He's got the answer.

Gonorrhea on Valentines Day,
And you're still looking for the perfect lay,
You think rock and roll will set you free,
You'll be deaf before your thirty three,

Shooting junk till your half insane,
Broken needle in your purple vein,
Why don't you look into Jesus, he's got the answer.

You work all night, sleep all day,
You take your money, throw it all away,
You say you're going to be a superstar,
But you've never hung around enough to find out who you really are.

Think back to when you were a child,
Your soul was free, your heart ran wild,
Each day was different, and life was a thrill,
You knew tomorrow would be better still,

Things have changed you're much older now,
If you're unhappy and you don't know how,
Why don't you look into Jesus, He's got the answer
The Outlaw by Larry Norman.

Probably the best song he ever did.

More - I modified this -- the oringinal video I posted was a little hard to hear, but may be found here.
The Tune by Larry Norman.

Larry Norman, Home at Last.

I just received an email from an old friend, my college roommate - Larry Norman has passed away.

I will have more to say - for now, a song from Larry:

When you first begin your journey, you're not sure just who you are
And the lessons that you're learning, they don't take you very far.
And you just can't keep from stumbling, though you try so hard to stand,
And the truth can be so humbling when it's just beyond your hand.

As though youth were my invention, as though love lay undefined,
To stay free was my intention, to stay young and unconfined.
And so I held my pride above you, oh, yes, what a fool was I,
Holding back those words "I love you," and letting out that word goodbye.

I was wrong to let you go
I was a child and I did not know
About the love that we both could have given
And now you've gone so far away,
I hope I'll see you again someday
But if I don't, I hope I'll see you in heaven.

I was foolish in my younger days to think they'd never end
Life confused me with its changing ways, and I could not comprehend
All the meaning in those moments now lost like footprints in the sand
And I'm standing here remembering, but it's so hard to understand.

I was wrong to let you go
I was a child and I did not know
About the love that we both could have given
And now you've gone so far away,
I hope I'll see you again someday
But if I don't, I hope I'll see you in heaven.

Now I'm sitting in this garden in the middle of my days
And my memories drift and harden as the years they slip away,
And I've been looking in this mirror at the age around my eyes
Time is such an earnest laborer, precision is his neighbor.
Lay my body in the ground, but let my spirit touch the sky.

I was wrong to let you go
I was a child and I did not know
About the love that we both could have given
And now you've gone so far away,
I hope I'll see you again someday
But if I don't, I hope I'll see you in heaven.