Friday, February 27, 2009

Larry Norman "The Great American Novel"


i was born and raised an orphan
in a land that once was free
in a land that poured its love out on the moon
and i grew up in the shadows
of your silos filled with grain
but you never helped to fill my empty spoon

and when i was ten you murdered law
with courtroom politics
and you learned to make a lie sound just like truth
but i know you better now
and i don't fall for all your tricks
and you've lost the one advantage of my youth

you kill a black man at midnight
just for talking to your daughter
then you make his wife your mistress
and you leave her without water
and the sheet you wear upon your face
is the sheet your children sleep on
at every meal you say a prayer
you don't believe but still you keep on

and your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it

you are far across the ocean
but the war is not your own
and while you're winning theirs
you're gonna lose the one at home
do you really think the only way
to bring about the peace
is to sacrifice your children
and kill all your enemies

the politicians all make speeches
while the news men all take note
and they exagerate the issues
as they shove them down our throats
is it really up to them
whether this country sinks or floats
well i wonder who would lead us
if none of us would vote

well my phone is tapped and my lips are chapped
from whispering through the fence
you know every move i make
or is that just coincidence
well you try to make my way of life
a little less like jail
if i promise to make tapes and slides
and send them through the mail

and your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it
you say all men are equal all men are brothers
then why are the rich more equal than others
don't ask me for the answer i've only got one
that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son

Larry Norman & The Grammys & Me Part 3

UPDATE See Below

Over the next few years Larry was busy recording and releasing albums, and I was busy being a teenager in Denver. His albums were hard to come by, but I managed to find them wherever I could. I distinctly remember asking an older woman in a very small Christian bookstore if she had any Larry Norman albums, and her response, "I don't think he's a Christian, dear".

While in high school, my family had a chance to go to Estes Park, Colorado for an annual Christian music event being held there. We knew some people, who knew some people, and when I found out Larry was playing........I pleaded with my parents to make this drive up the hill to see him perform.

The Christian music event had placed him as last artist of the night, which usually denotes a top billing. They had other reasons in mind. Couldn't tell you who else performed that night for sure...........but I clearly remember that just before Larry was to go on, as the last performer of the night, a full third of the audience got up and walked out.

Racial prejudice in the church was the soapbox Larry was standing on that night. When he sang "The Great American Novel", an uncomfortable silence fell on the room. More audience members left. I realized I was watching the rejection of change, of questioning the status quo, of a person speaking the truth as he saw it. I was secretly thrilled. More than ever I was hooked on the music of Larry Norman.

Over the next few years, I listened, usually on a daily basis, to the albums I collected, and yes, I was spiritually moved, and in many ways, shaped by the music of Larry Norman.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Larry Norman & The Grammy's & Me Part 2

See Below

We sat there, glued to our seats. This "special music" was really very "special". I for one, had never experienced anyone like Larry Norman.

He proceeded to sing songs about the Vietnam war, the Second Coming, racial prejudice in the church, Bible prophecy, and yes, songs and sex.

We were stunned. My world was rocked. It had never occurred to me for even one fleeting moment that you could be a Christian AND be culturally relevant. I stumbled to the lobby after the service and bought "Upon This Rock". I listened to nothing else for weeks.

So began my long "relationship" with Larry Norman. Little did I know that Sunday morning how strongly he and his music would weave in and out of my life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Grammy's, Larry Norman & Me


It was 1971, maybe 1972.

I had thick Coke bottle glasses and bright, shiny, silver braces.

I lived two lives.

In the neighborhood, I had a few friends. But at school, the boys taunted me, called me names, and the cool girls made fun of my clothes. My teachers always liked me, I was a teacher's pet kind of girl. But junior high was hell.

In my other life, at church, I was mostly happy, and safe, and people liked me. I was on the student council. I hung out with the “cool kids”. If others thought I was weird, they were too nice to ever say it. We had an amazing youth pastor who loved us with all his heart.

But I knew how far apart my two worlds were.

Even at age 11 or 12, I started realizing that I wanted to live in safe, friendly, Church World. In Church World people were nice to you, and you were measured by your spiritual knowledge and depth. You could be popular because you were good on the Bible Quiz Teams, or memorized all your verses at summer camp.

In Real World, your Christian beliefs made you stand out from everyone else. You dressed different, you acted different, and the other kids were tough on you. “You can’t dance? Why not?” “Why can’t you listen to that music?” “Why don’t your parents go to the neighborhood parties?” “You can’t drink? Ever?”
I was overwhelmed with how to make it through junior high, much less high school and beyond. It seemed impossible to live out your life with feet in both Worlds. They were too different. You couldn’t “fit in” both places. And God knows, “fitting in” is all important to an adolescent.

So it’s a normal Sunday morning. Our church was trying to bridge the gap between the worlds. We had a special “Youth Service”, the second of three Sunday morning services. We were cool, we were in junior high, and we got to go to that middle service that was just for young people. No choir, no organ, a special sermon, and best of all, “special music”. Drums, guitars, things that made the older folks happy we had our own service. We had heard some pretty cool, if still tame, musicians perform.

But that Sunday morning my life would change forever.

That morning when the “special music” was introduced, a young man walked out on the stage. He had on black jeans, a black shirt, and white tennis shoes. His long blonde hair, parted in the middle,fell well beyond his shoulders. It got very quiet in the sanctuary.

He adjusted the microphones, for several minutes, smiled at us. Strummed his guitar. Adjusted the microphones some more. Smiled again.

Then he stepped back from the mic, raised his right arm up above him, index finger pointed to the ceiling. And sang, “One way, one way to heaven, hold up high your hands. One way, free and forgiven, children of the Lamb.”

Larry Norman had just upset everything I thought I knew about my faith, my life, and my relationship to this planet.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Larry Norman & The Grammy's

UPDATE: For those who want to know, the video I linked to on You Tube was posted by someone else. But I was at the concert the night it was filmed. For the record, it was filmed in Denver at "The House of Joy Miracle Deliverance Church" That's the Pastor, Ralph Beechum directing the choir. "Whether You're Man, Woman, Girl or Boy, You're Always Welcome At The House Of Joy!" Yes I was there that night. It was an amazing night.

Judging by the traffic to this blog, I'm not the only person surprised that Larry Norman was mentioned during last night's Grammy awards. Normally I would say that most people reading this don't know who Larry is, but clearly there are few folks around the country, and some from other countries, who not only know of Larry, but felt compelled to search the Internet today to find out what people were saying.

Seems amazing to me to think that Larry has been gone from the planet for nearly a year. I'm just now starting to get used to the idea. Last night's mention on the Grammy's, naming people who had died in the last year, drove me to Larry's official website, where the media page has two amazing photo montages. Both played at Larry's funeral, one with video footage, the photo montage full of family photos, most never seen. Go check it out here.

I've wanted to write about Larry before. For months after his death last year, I started to, but struggled to find the words. I was also caught up in the controversy stirred up by his death, or actually, by his life......and I spent months reading other's words.............some too easy on him, but many too harsh.

I have my own Larry Norman stories. Like most who spent time around him, he was a man not easy to understand, who moved from the outrageous to the ridiculous, to the profoundly spiritual all with in the course of an hour. And then there was the time I ran into him in Nashville, in the lobby of the Ryman, no less. But that's a story for another day........

As a youth pastor, it was how he responded to my "kids" that made the most impact. And respond he did. With love and compassion. His music and his time touched them, and therefore me.

Since we are soon to be looking at the anniversary of his death, I think I will do my best to write something that will honor the impact of that sad, sweet, troubled, profound, gifted, quirky, radical lover of Jesus.

Stay tuned, or come back by................

In the meantime..........check out this video.........poorly filmed and edited.....but what a night, I was there.........and at least one of you reading this was too.............

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Best of Grammy's

Sometimes it's a train wreck of a show to watch.

But like a car crash, sometimes you just have to slow down and look.

If the Right Reverend Al Green is singing, pull over and roll down the window. Justin Timberlake with him???????? Yeah. Not bad at all. Mr. Timberlake grows on me.

I watch the show to find new music. It's usually best to listen to the music and turn the volume down while people talk. It's less political that way.

Coldplay. Finally get why The Husband likes them. Sounds like the 80's.

Side by side............Miley and it alright to

If I had to choose............Taylor. But the girl needs some lung power.................Miley does that nasal, country singer girl "thing". Ewwww. If you're going to do that nasal thing............ Go all the way and be Loretta Lynn. Or........never mind.

Robert Plant and Alison Krause win. I like it when albums I have already purchased win. This album makes you want to take off your shoes, drink some sweet tea, and watch the fireflies.

Jennifer Hudson can sang. Girl with the really tough year........brings it home.

Jonas Brothers with Stevie Wonder???? Seem like great boys and I get the appeal, but Stevie Wonder???? Seems a tad bit sacrilegious. think the one brother choked. I would too............

On to the train wreck portion................Katy Perry.......... is this music or bad Broadway???

Only the balcony people seemed amused..............I was not.

RECORD OF THE Got that one. T Bone Burnett, one of the greatest record producers you never heard of...................

Proof beyond all reason that I am old.............the Rap Pack performance. I am completely stumped.

In 1964, when the Beatles invaded America, I was five years old. I remember seeing the Life magazine cover and all the talk about their long hair. I saw them on Ed Sullivan show. I thought Paul was the "cute one". They are the soundtrack of childhood and adolescence. Even when they are not so good..............they are the best.

I might have to check out that Sugarland song, "Stay".
I might like Adele.

Waited a while to comment about Kid Rock...........when I think of him, I feel like a teenager. I like him but I'm pretty sure I will be in trouble for it. But I can't stop. I need someone to tell me how bad this latest album of his is, so I don't go out and buy it. Is he seeking something? Or has he gone too far??? Must I reject him?

Second Justin

the Four butter. I'll Be There........................Standing in the Shadows of Love...............Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.

Willl we be listening to that Rap segment 40 years from now?

Neil Diamond. I know they call him the Jewish Elvis. But "Hot August Night" was the album of my babysitting days..............As long as he doesn't sing "Blue Jean Queen" I can handle it. And like it, more than a little.

I AM BLOWN AWAY. In the Grammy's tribute to those who have died in the last year, they mentioned a person who I think of as my friend. Nothing like that has ever happened while watching the Grammy's.

Larry Norman. My friend, Larry. Who meant so much to me...........I have never even had the guts to talk about Larry on this blog. February 24th will be the one year anniversary of the day he "moved on." Larry.

Robert and T Bone playing guitar. So good, that if you don't get it, you shouldn't be allowed to listen.

Once again, I own album of the year..............before it was named as such. Does that mean I have good taste?????????

Sunday, February 01, 2009

wow wee what a game

though I was pulling for the Cardinals (because of Kurt). It was an amazing game, down to the last minute.

For the locals, we had us some Elway in the coin toss and in a commercial.

Ahhhh....................the glory days.


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