Friday, March 23, 2012

Why should the devil have all the good music?

Welcome to the latest edition of Flashback Friday. By way of introduction to my new readers, Flashback Friday is where I introduce my readers to the pioneers of Contemporary Christian Music, beginning with the Jesus Music Era of the Late 1960's and the 1970's. As we progress each week we shall move into the Seventies, and Eighties and perhaps beyond. Not exactly sure where I should end a flashback. Maybe with the year 1999/2000.

If any one person could be labeled the "First Father" or "Adam" of Christian Rock, that person would be, by almost unanimous choice (dare I say consensus), Larry David Norman (April 8, 1947 -February 24, 2008). He certainly was recognized by Servant.
S: No, No, Doctor, you've got it all wrong. Oh Well. Now then, I've also brought you some Servant.
L: Oh, what a stroke of luck, why two of my servants ran away last week, Larry and Normany. They ran into the shallow water and the crocks got them. I suppose they're in another land now.
That was the closing line of the Jungle Music Skit, and two artists were referenced here, Larry Norman and Servant. We shall get to Servant next week, and we will get to still more bands as we move into the eighties, which is known as Christian Music's Golden Age. If you didn't get the reference, Livingstone had two servants Larry and Normany (Larry Norman). Referenced also was In Another Land (1976), which was Normans sixth release as a Christian artist. He had actually been in the music industry since 1965 with the bands Back Country Seven (1964-65) and People (1965-68). He had a hit single "I Love You", with People, which reached #14 on Billboard's Hot 100. After a brief musical hiatus he returned to lead the nascent Christian Rock scene with Upon This Rock (1969).

With the rise of Christian Rock as a major force, a reactionary movement arose among the mainstream Christian community. A reaction in itself wasn't surprising, in fact Newton's Third Law of Motion required it (For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction). What was always surprising was where the reaction came from. It would be easy to slough off an attack from "the world". It really hurt when the bullets were fired by your fellow brothers and sisters. Christianity has always been plagued with friendly fire casualties.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 lays out the principle of "All things to all men" or "every available method" to getting out the Gospel. Paul would have been on TV, Radio, the Internet, etc. (He would have also booked passage on The Titanic, but that's another story). Organized Christianity (aka Christen-dumb) has opposed just about every major technological innovation of the 20th Century as being of "the devil", with the result that, with a few rare exceptions, the Christian Church has always been seen as a bunch of Luddites.

Norman struck back with one of the most well known "defense songs" ever released entitled Why should the devil have all the good music. Even though a live video of this exists, the quality is poor. Here is an audio only version for your enjoyment.

One of the best things about this song is it's biting sarcasm, with the parts like "I grew it out long to make room for my brain". Boldness like this was a rarity, and paved the way for CCM's Caustic Clone Prince Steve Taylor, but we shall deal with him at another time.

Six Degrees of Larry Norman

Larry Norman isn't only one of the most influential and respected people in CCM History, his is also one of the most "well-connected" people in CCM history. His Street Level Artists Agency represented legends such as Randy Stonehill, Daniel Amos and Mark Heard, but the connections go much further, and include artists as diverse as DC Talk, Switchfoot and Rebecca St. James. Even more surprising, he is also one of the founders of a Protestant Denomination of sorts. Not surprising, they don't have a problem with Rock and Roll. For more information on these connections, check out my Six Degrees Page.

That concludes this edition of Flashback Friday. We shall return next Friday with Servant, the last band listed in the Jungle Music Skit. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

p.s. - Check out the Larry Norman page to purchase music on Amazon and support The Night Beat at the same time. Thanks.