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"Fallen Angel"

The Outlaw Larry Norman


Larry Norman was one of the early pioneers of Christian rock music in the late 1960's.  He died in February 2008.  In the early days of my life as a real Christian I loved the music of Larry Norman, and I still do.  I got to see him perform in 1972, 1973, and 1994.  Lyrically and musically speaking, his albums were new, raw, relevant, and reached right to the hearts of a new generation of Christians and non-Christians alike.  The traditional church didn't appreciate Norma's style of musical relevance, but many of us back then didn't appreciate the church's style of musical relevance either.     


I've recently watched a documentary DVD entitled, "Fallen Angel The Outlaw Larry Norman".  The video shows Larry Norman's rise in the music world, first of all as a secular rocker in the group called "People", and then later as a Christian rock singer.  Billboard magazine compared his writing ability to Paul Simon.  George Martin, the producer of many Beatle albums produced Norman 's most popular album entitled "Only Visiting This Planet" (1972).  I still have the album as well as the CD version.     


Larry Norman's music influenced thousands of us in the early 1970's in a very positive way. Yet as time went on we started to hear stories about Larry. We wondered if they were really true.  All the way from California to Ontario , Canada a discrepancy between Norman 's music and his life began to emerge.  I didn't know if I should believe these stories or not.  I certainly didn't want to believe them.  


The "purposively" two sides of Larry Norman are documented in the DVD "Fallen Angel".  The story is told by many who were close to Larry, from the beginning years to later years.  Randy Stonehill knew Larry Norman well.  Larry introduced Randy to Jesus in his kitchen, thus Randy's song entitled "Norman's Kitchen".   Stonehill is one of those who speaks in the documentary, along with Norman's first wife, and other musicians.  Sarah, Randy Stonehill's first wife, and Larry Norman's second wife, chose not to be interviewed for this documentary.  This might suggest that she was not in agreement with the DVD, but I don't know this for sure.  As a side note, I believe I now know why Randy Stonehill wrote the song "Sarah".  (Sarah, do you love me, you've got so much more to give )  As a matter of fact, I now see many of Randy's songs reflecting what was happening in the mid 1970's between him and Larry.  That being said, Randy's songs are written from his perspective.      


If you don't want your memory of Larry Norman being  messed with, don't watch this DVD.   If you want to hear his story through the eyes of those who apparently didn't like him, watch the video, but I warn you in advance, it might disturb you.


I have one caution if you do choose to watch.  Let the facts formulate how you think and feel about Larry Norman.  Most of us don't know the facts.  There are lots of feelings and emotions expressed by those who have deep hurts.  Those feelings and emotions belong to those being interviewed, not to you.   Feelings are a product of someone's interpretation of the facts and therefore shouldn't determine the way we feel. These feelings rise to the surface as those being interviewed reflect on past events.  Let the facts determine how you feel, not the feelings and emotions of others.  That being said, for those who have fond memories of Larry Norman, it will be hard not to let the emotions of those on the video affect you.   


You may feel somewhat saddened and disappointed as you pull the video from your DVD player, but I think there's one thing you should realize.  The Bible itself does not withhold the downfalls and sins of those our Lord uses, and I do believe Jesus used Larry Norman, especially in the early years, despite his problems.  That being said, the DVD is one man's opinion.  We don't know its accuracy.  


One thought that comes to mind after watching the video is the fact that God's grace extends to all of us who want to serve Him, even to those whose lives show a dichotomy of sorts.  I look at Abraham as a man whose life showed such a dichotomy, but God still declared him as being righteous, when in fact he wasn't.  Remember, God didn't declare Abraham to be righteous because he was righteous.  God declared Abraham to be in a state of righteousness because Abraham simply trusted that God would do what He said He would do.  That's it.  That being said, I believe the New Testament does raise the bar concerning the way we should live.  We are expected to live more righteously than Abraham, and also than what Larry Norman apparently lived. 


You might ask yourself at the end of this video, "how and why does God choose to use certain people"?  You might even wonder if you're not all that different from Abraham, or the Larry Norman portrayed on the DVD.  I certainly don't excuse Larry Norman's sins.  I'm sure he wasn't perfect, but on the other hand, I didn't personally know Norman to really know what sin he mighty have had.   Neither should we excuse our own sins as we often do.  Let's keep the bar raised high and call sin for what it is, yet at the same time extend grace to the sinner, because you and I are sinners too. 


For Christian music lovers who were around in the late 1960's and 1970's, there's also a sound track to the DVD called "Paradise Sky", sung by Randy Stonehill.  He has gone into the studio and has rerecorded some of his songs from the 1970's with an up-to-date flavour.  It's worth buying this CD.  He does a great job of remaking these songs, and for those of you like me, the CD will bring back lots of good memories.    


May Jesus help us all in the pursuit of living a more righteous and less selfish life than we presently do.   We do represent Him to a fallen world.   




Post Script 


Since I've written the above article, I've now discovered the other side to this DVD.  I'd strongly suggest you visit the following web site.  If you watched the DVD or if you will watch the DVD, you must visit this site, if not for any other reason than to bring balance to the DVD.  





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