Larry Norman is the Father of Christian Rock, integral to the Jesus People movement, an American Kierkegaard with a guitar, and the perfect figure to wrestle with the tangled shape of evangelicalism. Plus Larry Norman remains one of the most influential figures in my own faith journey. First, I encountered him through my Dad’s records, discovering a unique prophetic voice set against the country and church’s neglect of the poor, lust for war, and desire for more. Then I came to know Larry talking to him after his shows. I saw him 17 times before he passed. He learned my name, remembered my story, encouraged my intellectual quest, gave me song writing tips, and let me sing a verse of The Rock that Doesn’t Roll with his band at a show in Florence, South Carolina (that was on my bucket list).
PS I deleted 1200 words of love about Larry… the point being, what’s the chance I would actually LOVE a book about him?
It is rare that I love a book, the topic, and the guest this much! Not only that, this book isn’t even by John Cobb, about process theology, or involve a visit from Catherine Keller. There is no exaggeration needed when I say that Gregory Thornbury wrote a fascinating, stimulating, and intoxicating biography of one of my heroes – Larry Norman. His newest book, Why Should the Devil have all the Good Music: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock, is so good I have read it twice. The first time I couldn’t slow down to savor the book, because I wanted to know all the details about Larry I didn’t know and the second time I only read a chapter a day and was sad when it ended.
I hope you enjoy this conversation with Gregory 1/4th as much as me. Then you will want to get yourself the book and check out some old school Jesus rock for yourself. I even posted a cover of his tune The Great American Novel almost 8 years ago on YouTube.
The New Yorker has a great piece up featuring Gregory titled The Unlikely Endurance of Christian Rock that the interested should definitely check out.
Gregory Alan Thornbury has been a college professor, dean, and president of The King’s College in New York City. A popular writer and speaker on philosophy, religion, and contemporary culture, he currently serves at the New York Academy of Art.
Once you decide to be wise and purchase Why Should the Devil have all the Good Music: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock you can head over the book’s webpage for resources, info, and whatever extra praise you need to put you over the line!