Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?

Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock

eBook - 2018
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The riveting, untold story of the "Father of Christian Rock" and the conflicts that launched a billion-dollar industry at the dawn of America's culture wars. In 1969, in Capitol Records' Hollywood studio, a blonde-haired troubadour named Larry Norman laid track for an album that would launch a new genre of music and one of the strangest, most interesting careers in modern rock. Having spent the bulk of the 1960s playing on bills with acts like the Who, Janis Joplin, and the Doors, Norman decided that he wanted to sing about the most countercultural subject of all: Jesus. Billboard called Norman "the most important songwriter since Paul Simon," and his music would go on to inspire members of bands as diverse as U2, The Pixies, Guns 'N Roses, and more. To a young generation of Christians who wanted a way to be different in the American cultural scene, Larry was a godsend-spinning songs about one's eternal soul as deftly as he did ones critiquing consumerism, middle-class values, and the Vietnam War. To the religious establishment, however, he was a thorn in the side; and to secular music fans, he was an enigma, constantly offering up Jesus to problems they didn't think were problems. Paul McCartney himself once told Larry, "You could be famous if you'd just drop the God stuff," a statement that would foreshadow Norman's ultimate demise. In Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music', Gregory Alan Thornbury draws on unparalleled access to Norman's personal papers and archives to narrate the conflicts that defined the singer's life, as he crisscrossed the developing fault lines between Evangelicals and mainstream American culture-friction that continues to this day. What emerges is a twisting, engrossing story about ambition, art, friendship, betrayal, and the turns one's life can take when you believe God is on your side.
In 1969, in Capitol Records' Hollywood studio, Larry Norman decided that he wanted to sing about the most countercultural subject of all: Jesus. To a generation of Christians who wanted a way to be different in the American cultural scene he was a godsend. To the religious establishment, however, he was a thorn in the side; and to secular music fans, he was an enigma, constantly offering up Jesus to problems they didn't think were problems. Thornbury examines the conflicts that defined the singer's life, as he crisscrossed the developing fault lines between Evangelicals and mainstream American culture-friction that continues to this day.
Publisher: New York : Convergent, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781101907085
Branch Call Number: eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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Justices
May 28, 2018

I'm guessing many of you have never heard of Larry Norman. He was a Christian musician from the sixties and seventies, the father of Jesus rock, and an influence on both Christian and non-Christian musicians alike.

Throughout his career, Norman struggled with balancing evangelizing and creating true art. He felt like most of Christian music was propaganda, only enjoyable by Christians. Unsurprisingly, he had a rocky relationship with the Christian community- at times they called him a backslider or a Satan-worshiper, and viewed him as a wolf in sheep's clothing, luring the Christian youth away from the Christ.

This biography, released ten years after Larry Norman's death, captures this struggle extremely well. I would go so far as to say that it's a must-read for any Christian artist, of whatever kind.

n
nordstrom
Apr 30, 2018

Bought the book a couple weeks ago. It's OK. It's nice that they've made a biography of sorts. As a fan, it's nice to have a reference point to help fill in some of those gaps in his story.

It's hagiography. It essentially posits that Norman was flawed and misguided, but generally trying to do what he felt was right. I think people will get more out of the book if they treat it as a devotional more than a biography, per se.. Thornbury assumes certain Christian truths in his narrative that no journalistic biographer would assume. However, since it was published under Penguin/Random House's Christian imprint, it fits. It's just worthwhile to consider its publication status, lest one be disappointed by the book's hagiographic tone.

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