I just found out that Larry Norman -- the "Father of Christian rock" -- passed away this week, of heart failure. He was 60.
I saw him perform two or three times in the 80s, and I have a couple of his records on CD that I pull out from time to time to try to figure out just what hold his music still retains on me. And that hold is still very much there.
I think Chris Willman's "In Memoriam" for Entertainment Weekly (here) is trenchant and, thanks to his own acknowledged solipsism near the end, chiefly correct. Every time I saw him perform, I was left with the impression that Norman was one exceedingly strange cat. And it didn't matter which record of his I would play, my lasting and final impression was that he was a disturbed and deeply melancholy soul.
People who reach out to Jesus from the strange and terrible pit of their own personal hell sometimes produce a primal sort of work that is very difficult to dismiss. A person so twisted with the anguish of experience and perception has no choice but to speak the truth; the rest of us have no choice but to listen. I'm sorry Norman's voice is silenced.