MUSIC MONDAY Christian Rock Pioneer Larry Norman’s Songs Part 10 more on Album “Only Visiting This Planet”

Christian Rock Pioneer Larry Norman’s Songs Part 10 more on Album “Only Visiting This Planet”

I posted a lot in the past about my favorite Christian musicians such as Keith Green (I enjoyed reading Green’s monthly publications too), and 2nd Chapter of Acts and others. Today I wanted to talk about one of Larry Norman’s songs. David Rogers introduced me to Larry Norman’s music in the 1970’s and his album IN ANOTHER LAND came out in 1976 and sold an enormous amount of copies for a Christian record back then.

 

1. Only Visiting This Planet – Larry Norman

ONLY VISITING THIS PLANET

Larry Norman

Prophet…scoundrel…poet…thief…comedian…clown…rock star…fallen star…

A living, breathing contradiction in terms, Larry Norman passed away on February 24th, 2008 at the age of 60. I attended the funeral, arriving late and “listening” to it from outside the doors of a Church near Salem, Or.

*          *          *          *          *

Also included on this album would be the first version of the song that would define both him and the Jesus Movement for all time, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” The song would be covered an inordinate number of time, not only by other artists but by Norman himself, appearing on more than just a handful of albums that would follow.

The Jesus Movement had a focal point of its ministry the idea of the soon coming secret Rapture of the Church. Theologians CI Scofield and Louis Sperry Chafer were primary influences as well as the Latter Rain Movement, a Pentecostal movement that emerge after World War ll that taught that the return of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Charismatic “gift” experiences would be a sign of the end times. Evangelist and “hippie prophet” Lonnie Frisbee would also play a major in the burgeoning musical genre.

The above coupled with the growing popularity of the unique “Dispensational” position on eschatology, the “Secret Rapture” was a major component of the Jesus Music and his rapture-ready song became the movements anthem. The song would even play a major role in the popular evangelical movie, “A Thief In the Night.”

Normans’ music and appearance would not play well in mainstream Christian circles that still argued that drums were inherently evil and the use of modern musical styles violated God’s ordinance. there is no doubt there was also a racial component to this issue as well. Norman’s music was heavily influenced not only by modern folk and rock of the time, but by Black Gospel music as well.

It would be the last nationally distributed album for Norman until the release of “Only Visiting This Planet” in 1972. In the years in between he would record and release two independent projects called “Street Level” and “Bootleg.” Both would feature grainy, underground looking black and white artwork. Both would also be “double albums” mixing live concert recording, studio demos of previously unreleased songs and future classics.

These albums would also reveal the smart and piercing humor Norman would always be noted for. Norman concerts were part rock and roll show, part revival meeting and part stand up comedy. This facet of his life and ministry would be introduced on these two albums. One section from “Bootleg” in particular really shines as he addressed the National Youth Workers of America Conference introducing “Sweet Sweet Song of Salvation.”

Larry Norman- Sweet Sweet Song of Salvation

Several songs from the two “independent” releases would find their way on to what is known as the “The Trilogy.” The Trilogy of albums include Only Visiting This Planet, So Long Ago the Garden and In Another Land. Though recognized as a trilogy of records Norman only stated that they were informally created to deal with the present, past and future (respectively) with each album focusing on one of those topics.

Norman had left Capitol after “Upon This Rock” and singed with MGM to release “Only Visiting This Planet” as well as the following album, 1973’s “So Long Ago the Garden.” On both albums he received production help from George Martin, the famed producer of the The Beatles.  Norman stated that he had previously met Paul McCartney and that Paul had tracked him down to talk about his music. This is interesting as we will discuss when we talk about “Only Visiting This Planet.”

The album was decidedly more “secular” in content than any of Norman’s other releases. But much of the controversy in Christian circles came from the original cover (pictured above) because many argued the picture of the lion in the field superimposed onto Norman’s body was an attempt to cover the fact that Norman is naked in the cover as his navel is clearly visible. The later cover (below) would be cropped at a much higher point.

But it is true that the content was not as blatantly spiritual as other Norman releases. This may have caused him to not perform those songs as often in concert, which in turn may have impacted the general longevity of many of the songs. Mus9ically the album was very “current” for the time and flawlessly produced. Martin brought in the same “mellotron” keyboard used on the Beatles, “Strawberry Fields Forever” to use on the song, “Lonely By Myself.” There is a story that while recording the album in one studio Paul McCartney was in the adjoining studio recording “Live and Let Die.”

The album combined Norman’s penchant for 60’s blues, 50’s pop vocals and current social commentary to create a true classic worthy of more attention than it ever really received. Highlights include Fly, Fly, Fly, Be Careful What You Sing, Baroquen Spirits, Nightmare #71 and the haunting beautiful, “She’s a Dancer.” One interesting note is the “cover” of “Christmastime.” The song originally appeared on Randy Stonehill’s “Born Twice” album and is credited as being written by Stonehill. On this album the songwriting credit is given to Norman.

In response to many critics that he had “sold out” his Gospel message on the previous album, Norman followed up with “In Another Land.” It would take nearly three years to record and release this album that ranks a VERY close second in the list of great Larry Norman albums. This album would be released on Norman’s Solid Rock label and receive distribution by Word records in 1975.

“In Another Land” would mark the first nationally distributed “Christian” album for Norman and would also mark the on again, off again love/hate relationship Norman would have with the Christian music industry and, in turn, the industry would have with him. Consider that despite his in arguable multiple contributions to the industry he was not inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame until 2001.

The album was not free of controversy despite its very evangelical content. The first and most obvious issue was the unseemly longhair he sported, which in 1975 was simply unacceptable at the time. The cover also received complaints because Norman’s thumbs are supposedly switched with the right thumb on the left hand and vice versa, and that, it is claimed, is some sort of Satanic imagery.

SERIOUSLY!

“In Another Land” would contain many of Norman’s classics that would remain favorites for all time. The production is stellar and the use of limited spacing between songs keeps the record moving in non-stop fashion. Highlights would literally include the entire album! But I will note some interesting points.

The cover of Stonehill’s “I Love You” in a little odd since the only line from Stonehill’s original from “Born Twice” is the first line of the song. “The Rock That Doesn’t Roll” continues the theme of “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music” and would inspire countless musical defenses of Christian Rock. But rather than being a song about Christian Rock it is simply a play on words to describe Jesus. It is also the song that contains the lyric the album titles is based on.

__________________________________

larry norman – the rock that doesnt roll

 

1978 Prolife Pamphlet from Keith Green’s ministry has saved the lives of many babies!!!!

Francis Schaeffer Whatever Happened to the Human Race (Episode 1) ABORTION _____________________________________ 1978 Prolife Pamphlet from Keith Green’s ministry has saved the lives of many babies!!!! Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism(from Part 4 of Whatever happened to human race?) Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical […]

Tribute to Keith Green who died 32 years ago today!!!

This is a tribute to Keith Green who died 32 years ago today!!! On July 28, 1983 I was sitting by the radio when CBS radio news came on and gave the shocking news that Keith Green had been killed by an airplane crash in Texas with two of his children. 7 months later I […]

“Music Monday” My favorite Christian music artist of all time is Keith Green.

My favorite Christian music artist of all time is Keith Green. Sunday, May 5, 2013 You Are Celled To Go – Keith Green Keith Green – (talks about) Jesus Commands Us To Go! (live) Uploaded on May 26, 2008 Keith Green talks about “Jesus Commands Us To Go!” live at Jesus West Coast ’82 You can find […]

MUSIC MONDAY:Keith Green Story, and the song that sums up his life (Part 10)

To me this song below sums up Keith Green’s life best. 2nd Chapter of Acts – Make My Life A Prayer to You Make my life a prayer to You I want to do what You want me to No empty words and no white lies No token prayers, no compromise I want to shine […]

MUSIC MONDAY:Keith Green Story (Part 9)

Keith Green – Easter Song (live) Uploaded by monum on May 25, 2008 Keith Green performing “Easter Song” live from The Daisy Club — LA (1982) ____________________________ Keith Green was a great song writer and performer.  Here is his story below: The Lord had taken Keith from concerts of 20 or less — to stadiums […]

MUSIC MONDAY:Keith Green Story, includes my favorite song (Part 8)

Keith Green – Asleep In The Light Uploaded by keithyhuntington on Jul 23, 2006 keith green performing Asleep In The Light at Jesus West Coast 1982 __________________________ Keith Green was a great song writer and performer and the video clip above includes my favorite Keith Green song. Here is his story below: “I repent of […]

Keith Green’s article “Grumbling and Complaining–So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” (Part 4)

Keith Green – So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt (live) Uploaded by monum on May 25, 2008 Keith Green performing “So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt” live at West Coast 1980 ____________ This song really shows Keith’s humor, but it really has great message. Keith also had a great newsletter that went out […]

Keith Green’s article “Grumbling and Complaining–So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” (Part 3)

Keith Green – So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt (live) Uploaded by monum on May 25, 2008 Keith Green performing “So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt” live at West Coast 1980 ____________ This song really shows Keith’s humor, but it really has great message. Keith also had a great newsletter that went out […]

MUSIC MONDAY:Keith Green Story (Part 7)

Keith Green – Your Love Broke Through Here is something I got off the internet and this website has lots of Keith’s great songs: Keith Green: His Music, Ministry, and Legacy My mom hung up the phone and broke into tears. She had just heard the news of Keith Green’s death. I was only ten […]

Keith Green’s article “Grumbling and Complaining–So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” (Part 2)

Keith Green – So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt (live) Uploaded by monum on May 25, 2008 Keith Green performing “So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt” live at West Coast 1980 ____________ This song really shows Keith’s humor, but it really has great message. Keith also had a great newsletter that went out […]

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: