I just learned that Larry Norman passed away yesterday. Even though I haven’t thought about him in years, I know the world will be the poorer for his absence.

In 1972, his record, Only Visiting This Planet, was light-years ahead of anything else in Christian music, both lyrically and musically, and ironically, it still is. I don’t listen to CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) much these days. My wife likes it, but she is of a generation that knoweth not Larry Norman, or Randy Matthews, or Keith Green.

Hell, you can’t even get these pussified “positive hits” Christian stations to play anything by Keith Green these days. The last time I called in to request “The Grace By Which We Stand”, about a decade and a half ago, I was told that Mr. Green was considered “too controversial”.

Just like his Master, I guess.

Norman lost the public ear after releasing his best record In Another Land in 1977. He did a lot of idiosyncratic music, including Bright Light Into Darkened Places, an anthology of “spiritual” rock songs written by “unregenerate heathens” like Jagger and Richards, or Randy Newman. but Christian music’s new darlings were Phil Keaggy, a virtuoso progressive-rock guitarist who put out increasingly blander and blander albums until he rocked like a neutered cat, or a squeaky-clean-gosh-ain’t-she-cute little minx named Amy Grant. Larry, in perfect character and to his credit, soldiered on in increasing obscurity and accumulating personal problem.

Thank you for the music, Larry. I’m certain you’re hearing some great stuff now.

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