Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#41 SEASONS OF THE SOUL by Michael & Stormie Omartian (1978)

SEASONS OF THE SOUL by Michael and Stormie Omartian (1978)
Myrrh – MYR 1073

Ms. Past, she's such a wicked lady

Ms. Past, she's always there waiting

She's the devil's favorite tool

She'll play you like a fool

She'll try until she rules...

She wants you paralyzed by all she knows


At the time, I had no idea. 

I thought Ms. Past was just the latest in a long line of catchy pop songs by Michael and Stormie Omartian

It was much more. 

Ms. Past is one of several songs on Seasons of the Soul that deal with overcoming a troubled history, a fairly common theme in Christian music. But few of us knew at the time just how personal these songs were to the Omartians. Stormie is a best-selling author now, and the intervening years have brought great transparency. We're now aware of the horrific difficulties that were a part of daily life for these two throughout childhood and beyond. We're also happily aware of the mercy, grace and power  of God that brought them together and healed them completely - body, soul and spirit.






Born November 26 in Evanston, Illinois, Michael Omartian latched onto music at an early age, playing piano at age four and drums a year later. He studied percussion, composition and theory as an adolescent, composing and arranging original songs by age sixteen. He played in clubs with several bands in the Chicago area and attended two colleges before relocating to California in 1970 to pursue a career in music. 





The Beatles had became a huge influence in my life,” says Omartian, “and that opened the world of pop music to me. I noticed that all of these albums, which I studied in minute detail, were recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and different parts of England. Since very little commercial recording was done in Chicago, I boarded a plane for LA as a 20-year-old, with $3,000 in savings, no prospects of any kind and just the idealistic enthusiasm of youth.”

After arriving in the Golden State, Omartian worked with Campus Crusade for Christ. He had become a Christian on Christmas Day, 1965 at the age of 19, so it was quite natural that faith and music would intersect for him through working with groups like New Folk and Armageddon Experience. He arranged much of the music and assisted in training the singers. 


Jimmy & Carol Owens (1970s)

Omartian was roommates in LA with Paul Johnson, a burgeoning composer/arranger who later married Kathie Lee (of Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee fame). Jesus Music visionaries Jimmy and Carol Owens paid for both Michael Omartian and Paul Johnson to record their first studio demos of their own music and employed Omartian as a vocalist with the Jimmy Owens Singers

A little later, Omartian landed a job playing piano for a group called Gator Creek, which had a singer by the name of Kenny Loggins. After Loggins hooked up with Jim Messina, Michael Omartian became more or less a permanent member of the Loggins and Messina band, playing on the duo's first three albums. He declined an invitation to tour with the group, preferring session work in the LA area. 


It wasn't long before Michael Omartian had truly made a name for himself, in both the secular music industry and the fledgling Jesus Music genre. A highly gifted musician, singer, arranger and producer, Mr. Omartian had already found success as a founding member of the 70s disco/funk band Rhythm Heritage, and as a session keyboard player for acts such as Jerry Garcia, Billy Joel, Larry Carlton, The Four Tops, John Lennon, Steely Dan, Lee Ritenour, Johnny Rivers, Boz Scaggs and others. He also dabbled in the early Jesus Music world, playing on records by Barry McGuire, Pratt & McClain, Mike & Kathy Deasy, Jamie Owens, the 2nd Chapter of Acts, and Richie Furay among others.  Having earned a Keyboard Musician of the Year award from NARAS, the Grammy Award presenters, he also served as a staff producer with ABC Records and later with Warner Brothers. "I just made myself available from the very beginning," Omartian recalls, "and was taught by veteran musicians and producers who went before me to be humble, willing to work for nothing in order to get started and have a cooperative attitude." 

He recorded two amazing Christian albums marked by exceptional production values and top-shelf musical performances in 1974 (White Horse) and 1976 (Adam Again). The Jesus Freaks were ecstatic. They had a spy (so to speak) on the inside of the mainstream rock world. And, in Omartian, they had a king-sized talent of which they could be quite proud. 





Although Michael's wife Stormie had written the lyrcis to all the songs on White Horse and Adam Again, and sang background vocals, she was seen as peripheral. After all, it was his name on the album cover. She was just that beautiful girl in the pictures on the lyric sleeve. That all changed in 1978. If White Horse and Adam Again were about an artist, Seasons of the Soul was about a marriage. Stormie Omartian had been promoted.






They first met when Stormie was engaged to be married to another man, a man that she knew in her heart she did not truly love. But she had decided that marriage just made sense at that particular intersection of her life. Michael Omartian has written that he thought Stormie was "a babe" the first day he met her. She had been asked to contribute background vocals to a Jimmy & Carol Owens musical titled Show Me!; Michael Omartian was there, singing and playing keyboards for the album. Stormie was smitten. "He was the cutest guy I'd ever seen," she writes in her autobiography Stormie. "He had thick, dark, curly hair, beautiful olive skin, and large, expressive brown eyes that confirmed his Armenian heritage. He had an intensity about him and a sense of purpose that was very attractive to me." The two were inseparable over the next several days and, according to Stormie, never ran out of things to talk about. 

Now, Stormie was not yet a believer. In fact, she was extremely wary of Christians, considering them to be either insensitive and obnoxious or bland and boring. Michael attempted to share his faith with Stormie but was rebuffed; he also tried to talk her out of marrying a man that she didn't love, but failed to persuade her. The two went their separate ways, and Stormie Omartian entered into a marriage that was doomed before it even began.

Stormie grew up in rural Wyoming, but the family moved to Southern California during her junior high years. A motivated student, Stormie threw herself into her school work and acted
Stormie (far right) on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour
in school plays. She ended up studying music at UCLA. From there, she found steady work in show business...but found herself barely able to function on a daily basis. She made a living as a background vocalist at the various LA area recording studios and as an actress, playing what she described as "dumb blonde comedienne roles." She'd been a regular on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, one of Glen's "on-camera-blonde-blue-eyed-size-eight-singer-dancers," living in a tiny two-room apartment. She was a workaholic, lending her talents to national TV shows every week, such as The Dean Martin Show, The Mac Davis Show, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and singing on as many albums and commercial jingles as she could, and working with established stars like Neil Diamond and Ray Charles


Despite living the show business dream of millions, Stormie was perpetually depressed and waged a daily battle with suicidal tendencies. "I awakened every morning to the thought 'Should I kill myself now or can I make it through one more day?'" She kept drugs close but kept friends at arms length. "I did find that drugs helped," she revealed in her 1986 autobiography. "Because it was the late 60s, drugs were everywhere. In fact, they were almost difficult to avoid. Simple marijuana was good enough for me. I found that as long as I was working or stoned I could survive life. I smoked and drank, and marijuana was a part of every gathering." She also lived dangerously on the relationships front by intentionally dating married men. A particularly dark detail from Stormie's pre-Christian life is the fact that she underwent two illegal abortions, resulting in depression, hopelessness and disgust. An entire chapter in her book is dedicated to reliving those nightmares. 

At this point, if you know Stormie Omartian only from her Christian recordings or as "that woman who writes those prayer books," you're probably wondering where in the world all of this horrible negativity came from. The answer is that she experienced what has been described as a hellish childhood, due primarily to an extremely dysfunctional relationship with her mother who suffered from mental illness. When Stormie was a child she had no way of knowing that her mom was an undiagnosed schizophrenic; all she knew is that her mother would literally lock her in a closet for hours on end as a form of punishment. Or sometimes for no reason at all.

Stormie's mother was verbally, physically and psychologically abusive toward her; meanwhile, her father worked long hours and was very passive, failing to protect his daughter or rescue her from her tormentor. This very painful and confusing start in life is what resulted in the busted relationships, drug abuse and suicidal thoughts of Stormie's young adult years. "I drank impressive quantities of alcohol, took dangerous amounts of drugs, went deeply into eastern religions, the occult, and unhealthy relationships," Stormie recounts on her website bio. "But these things gave me nothing more than a temporary relief, after which I was worse off than before. I wanted to die. I planned to kill myself with sleeping pills, as soon as I could get my hands on enough of them to do the job right."

At this point God intervened. And He used a friend and a famous Bible teacher to do it.


Pastor Jack Hayford

The friend's name was Terry. She invited Stormie to meet with her pastor, a man named Jack Hayford. He pastored what was then a small church called Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California.

Pastor Jack talked with Stormie, gave her some books to read and asked her to come back to see him. A week later she made Jesus her Savior and Lord. "I left his office feeling light and hopeful, though I didn't know what it all meant," she later wrote.

Stormie began to learn more about Jesus and started reading the Scriptures and fellowshiping with fellow believers. Church On The Way became a literal Sanctuary for her - a place where she would go to seek safety and refuge from the pain that had plagued her for so long. During church services, she would just sit and weep. She smiled and told her friend Terry, "I think I'd better not go to Church On The Way anymore without waterproof mascara and a box of Kleenex." In her book, Stormie writes about experiencing strength and a "supernatural presence of love" inside the four walls of that church. 

But she soon realized that all of her issues had not magically disappeared. 

Depression and suicidal thoughts returned from time to time; Glen Campbell's television show was cancelled and Stormie was dropped by her agent because she refused to act in commercials that involved liquor, cigarettes, or skimpy costumes; and since her then-husband wanted no part of this new God trip she was on, Stormie was unable to save her first marriage. "She had been so wounded and bruised, so injured, she was broken at all points," Jack Hayford remembers. "Yet she was remarkably gifted, with a ready heart and a quick mind. There was a childlikeness in Stormie's heart toward God that she has always maintained."

Time for Michael Omartian to re-enter Stormie's life.

The "hot new piano player in town" visited Church On The Way on a Sunday morning, and the two got reacquainted. "He looked wonderful," Stormie noticed. "His hair was too long and in need of a good shaping, but he was still the best-looking man I'd ever seen."





Michael and Stormie began to see each other almost immediately. After a year of dating, praying together, and attending church together, Michael asked Stormie to marry him. And so began a partnership that would bless so many people, both inside and outside the Kingdom of God...through extraordinary music and intelligent lyrics, full of depth and substance. 

But like many marriages, theirs got off to a rocky start. 

Michael was wrestling with some issues of his own that were hold-overs from his childhood (more about that later). Meanwhile, Stormie continued to battle depression and thoughts of harming herself. "The problem of depression was never completely eliminated," she revealed in her autobiography. "I could not understand why. I had the gift of eternal life and total forgiveness from Jesus. I had a loving pastor who taught me much about God and the Bible. I had a wonderful husband and financial security, so I no longer had to work to survive. Yet I still felt like I had nothing to live for. What was the matter with me? Was a part of me missing, just like with my mother? I was afraid that I would end up crazy, just like her."

As suicidal feelings increased, Michael suggested that Stormie seek counseling help at their church. After talking with a pastor's wife, it was determined that she needed to go through a spiritual process known as deliverance...which, frankly, scared Stormie half to death. "It sounded like a strange activity with red-eyed demons and whirlwinds," she worried. But she was assured that it was a simply a way of removing past brokenness and bondage from a person's life, a Biblical process of releasing them from spiritual oppression. 


I'll not go into the details here -- they're all laid out in Stormie's book -- but suffice it to say that after some intense prayer, fasting, a literal renouncing of a long list of sins, and, perhaps most importantly, a true forgiving of her mother, Stormie reports that one by one, spirits that had tormented and oppressed her were forced to flee. 

One of the counselors began to speak prophetically to Stormie: "My daughter, you have been locked in a closet all your life -- first physically and then emotionally. but I have the keys. I'm giving the keys to you." The depression and suicidal thoughts left that day and never returned. "I had gone into that office knowing Jesus as Savior," Stormie says, "but I came out knowing Him also as my Deliverer."

At this point Stormie began to discover that she had a way with words. "I had always written songs," she recalls, "but now I began to take my writing seriously as more and more song lyrics about Jesus came to my heart and mind. I could barely write them down fast enough as they came stream-of-consciousness style. I rewrote and pared and honed until I had the right word with the right note and each song said exactly what I wanted it to say."

Her songs began to be recorded by a Christian artist by the name of Ron Harris. And then came White Horse and Adam Again. Since then Stormie's lyrics have been sung by The Imperials, The Katinas, Debbie Boone, Evie, Dave Boyer, Russ Taff and others. "The thrill of hearing these songs recorded by Christian artists, and knowing that God was using them to bring happiness to people, was a privilege that I valued highly," she says.

After writing all of the words for her husband's first two solo recordings, it was time for Stormie to assume a greater role. "My husband and I had been recording albums together since we were married," she recounts. "On White Horse and Adam Again, he was the soloist while I sang background and wrote all the lyrics. However, on the next three albums, Seasons of the Soul, The Builder and Mainstream, he insisted that I sing a solo or duet with him on some of the songs."

Stormie also reveals in her book that she wasn't nearly as comfortable in the spotlight as her somewhat-famous husband. "Those albums, plus the concerts we did together, were all very frightening," she admits. "The only way I got through them was with praise. Every time fear came over me, I began to praise and thank God for all He had done in my life and for the voice He had given me. More and more I had success in that area and saw myself and my circumstances being transformed."

No longer a solo act, the Omartians' first offering as a full-fledged musical team was Seasons of the Soul. It exhibits the kind of quality, sonic excellence, sparkling production, and attention to detail that we had by now come to expect from anything that had the name Omartian on it. Seasons of the Soul was a bit of a departure, however, in that it moved away from the progressive AOR style of White Horse and Adam Again and toward a more accessible pop/rock framework. Reviewer Ken Scott describes the album, overall, as a "bouncy, sometimes lightly jazzed-up Steely Dan style." He rightly assesses that Stormie's solos seem to be aimed more at airplay on Christian radio stations that were beginning to switch from preaching to all-music formats all over the country at that time. "It ain't rock 'n roll but it ain't bad either, and it sure beats 90% of the gook coming out of those softie stations," Scott wrote.





As usual, Omartian assembled an amazing cast of characters to play the instruments: fusion-jazz band Seawind members played horns, legendary studio player Abraham Laboriel was on bass, Paul Leim sat behind the drums, and last but certainly not least, Phil Keaggy brought his electric guitar to the party. With Omartian himself on keyboards, there was no way this record was going to be anything but amazing.



Abraham Laboriel & Michael Omartian


Michael Omartian's distinctive piano playing kicks off the album with the aforementioned Ms. Past, a pop gem that encourages the listener to stop allowing the past to dictate the future. Stormie's voice is the the first that we hear as she sings...

Don't look, don't look back, just let her go
Lately all she's done is lay you low

Considering all that she'd experienced, the temptation might've been there for Stormie to blurt out all of the answers and tools she'd discovered as ways to effectively overcome the devil's schemes and put down the demons of the past; she wisely avoids that temptation and takes a more subtle approach, urging the listener to simply stop looking back, let it go, and avoid falling for that trap. She tells us what to do but doesn't tell us how to do it. Of course, it's just the first song on the record...and how much can you say in one 3 and a half minute pop song, anyway? By the way, kudos to Michael for some nice synth work on this one.







Next up was Travel On With Me, one of the record's standout tracks. The Omartian production style is on full display here -- described by author Mark Allan Powell as "distinctively slick with an emphasis on synth-pop and rhythms." Phil Keaggy's lead guitar shares an instrumental break with Michael Omartian's synthesizer, and the incomparable Matthew Ward can be heard lending background vocals. The lyrics of Travel On With Me are very poignant and telling in light of Stormie's history. It's written from a male perspective, and Michael sings this one more or less as a solo, but the message of total reliance on the Lord is definitely from Stormie's heart.

I lived long enough to know that I couldn't look back
And short enough to be confused
Sailing on a sea called compromise
I didn't have a lot to lose

So I gambled with my soul for security
But all I ever won was pride
When the tide came in and the devil won out
Something told me deep inside

I was dying...

I went sailing further down to the eye of the storm
Knowing I was being used
The Someone took my hand as I started to sink
And said "Now boy, it's time you choose."

"How far, how far will it get you?
How far, how far will it get you 
If you don't travel on with me?"

Well, I learned to live the way that He wanted me to
I could see that He was boss
And anything I tried outside of His will
Would come to be a total loss
But just about the time I was riding high
I tried to take control again
When goin' my own way began to get me down
Somethin' told me deep within: 

I was falling...

It wasn't 'til the dark and unanswered prayer
Began to give me great concern
That He broke my fall with the palm of His hand 
And said "Now boy, it's time you learn..."

"How far, how far will it get you?
How far, how far will it get you 
If you don't travel on with me?

Gonna Write Me A Song was Stormie's coming out party as a soloist. She has what sounds like a trained voice...polished diction, phrasing, enunciation. She doesn't necessarily sing with a lot of grit or emotion (think: the opposite of Ashley Cleveland). Most of her solos on this and subsequent albums were ballads that had more of an "inspirational" feel. These songs were high-brow stuff compared to, say, Fat City or Wachersign or Mr. Trash Man. Over a bed of strings and acoustic guitar, Stormie sings...

Gonna write me a song
Gonna be about You
I can sing it when I want to
Lay it down inside when I'm through

Gonna write about Your love
Keep it fresh on my mind
When my soul needs a love song
It will be there all the time

Of course, her personal testimony was never far from her mind...

All along I thought life had no song for me
I was wrong, You were there with a symphony
You loved me when no one could
And when the pain went on and on and on
You held me close 'till all the fear was gone

So I'll write me a song
To keep in my heart
When I feel the dark around me
The melody will start

More Like You wraps up Side One of Seasons of the Soul. It's a catchy pop song that was also covered later by The Imperials (and by The Bachmann Brothers Band on our self-titled custom recording in 1981...but I digress). This song was basically a simple prayer set to music. The sax solo and some "tuned percussion" add interest.

Seasons Of The Soul was recorded at Buckskin Studio and engineered by Buck Herring and Wally Duguid. It was mixed by Jay Graydon at Garden Rake Studio






Harry Langdon took the photos of the Omartians for the back cover and inside sleeve. By this time, Michael's hair was under control. He's sporting a no-collar shirt (popular at the time) and a thick patch of chest hair (also quite acceptable in 1978). And he's right on the money when he says that his wife has always been "a babe"...although few people use that word anymore. But that's alright, we know what he means. I've never seen a bad picture of the always-photogenic Mrs. Omartian. 

Bob Anderson was responsible for the front cover photo/illustration. Seasons of the Soul continued the Omartian tradition of using conceptual artwork or illustrations for album covers, rather than photos of themselves. Not sure if the butterfly cover helped sell many albums (I'd guess not)...but it was different.

Michael Omartian produced and arranged the record. In addition to the aformentioned players, Bud Nuanez contributed rhythm guitar, and Myrna Matthews helped out with backing vocals. Matthews has sung on projects by everyone from Aretha Franklin to Dolly Parton, from the Captain & Tennille to Olivia Newton-John

The "Seawind Horns" were played by Larry Williams (sax and flute), Kim Hutchcroft (also sax and flute) and Jerry Hey (trumpet).





Side Two of Seasons of the Soul opens in rip-roaring fashion with what is easily the most rocking track the Omartians would record on this album - Where I Been. Before the first word is sung, we are treated to twin-lead, harmony guitar parts from Phil Keaggy and some synth parts by Omartian that are reminiscent of some of the work he laid down on the Adam Again record. Michael sings with authority here...with a bit of a chip on his shoulder...

Well I may not be far along as you
But I started way behind
While you were makin' choices
I was tryin' to survive
While you were feedin' from your mama's hand
I was tryin' to begin
Before you start in judging me consider where I been

Think about it
Think about where I been

We've talked about Stormie's troubled past, but what about her husband? He'd turned his life over to the Lord at 19 and his young adult years seem to have been quite stable...but he also had much to overcome early in life. In her book The Power of a Praying Husband, Stormie reveals that Michael had been raised by a strict, overbearing, controlling mother. An undiagnosed dyslexic, he struggled in school and failed to live up to his mother's 
expectations. 





"Michael's family had lived in Armenia," Stormie explains,"where most of them had been killed by the brutally oppressive Turkish army. Michael's grandmother had been forced to watch her children be tortured and murdered right in front of her, a situation so horrendous I can't even bring myself to write out the details. After the slaughter of her family, Michael's grandmother escaped to America and eventually started a new family, into which Michael's mother was born."

Stormie says the terrifying memories of what had happened, and the dangers and consequences of being poor, uneducated, and part of a minority in a hostile country permanently marked the hearts of Michael's mother and grandmother. They were certain that education and hard work was the only way to ensure that this kind of devastation would never happen again. "Any member of the family who did not do well in school was an embarrassment," Stormie wrote. "And being a musician was not considered a real job that had any kind of future." 

In his late teens Michael Omartian experienced what today would be called a "nervous breakdown." With the help of a family doctor, Michael's mother actually had him committed to a mental hospital for a period of several weeks. "That experience did more to damage Michael than it did to help him," Stormie reports. Michael's mother eventually acknowledged that she was far too hard on him, overly critical, and that the mental institution stay had been a huge mistake. She passed away from cancer at age 50, not long after Michael and Stormie were married.

The strife and turmoil in Michael's home growing up and the mistakes that were made by his family of origin resulted in an anger problem for him as an adult. Yes, he was a Christian. Yes, he loved Jesus and Stormie, in that order. But criticism, harsh words and judgment were too often part of how he dealt with those around him.





"He could be rude and he had a frightful temper," Stormie revealed in a 2004 interview with Christianity Today. "He would rather watch sports on TV than have a conversation with his wife. He came home late for dinner and didn't apologize. He often seemed to care more about his golf game than his children. My husband would not do something he didn't want to do. And if he ended up doing something he didn't want to do, his immediate family members would pay for it. We do not have a perfect marriage. We had gut-level struggles, and we almost lost it."

But they didn't lose it.

For much more information on how they kept it together -- and continue to hold it together -- consult one of Stormie's books (such as The Power of a Praying Wife or The Power of a Praying Husband). They're definitely overcomers, these two. But their testimonies are also a powerful witness to others who find life's twists and turns difficult to bear.

It all makes lyrics like these much more powerful:

But if you think compared with you
I don't hold up quite as well
Well, Jesus had a lot to do
When He brought me back from hell

Think about it
Think about where I been

Before you think of things to say
Think about where I been
Before you write my life away
Think about where I been

The power and intensity of the performance of this song really helps to drive the message home. This is another song that features both a guitar solo by Phil Keaggy and a synthesizer solo by Michael Omartian. It doesn't get any better than that.





Stormie's Side Two solo was up next, a MOR ballad titled It All Comes Down To You. This one was a little more generic, although it's a fine "testimony song" that presents Jesus as the ultimate answer for those who are searching for meaning in life. I'm a little surprised they didn't pitch this one to The Imperials. Jim Murray would've also done a fine job on it.

Kim Hutchcroft's sax leads the way on Heaven Will Wait For Me. Loaded with an Omartian-esque rhythm, an Omartian-esque melody, and plenty of Omartian-esque chords, this song could've been a big hit on mainstream Top-40 radio...if that sort of thing had been allowed in 1978.

The Omartians often ended their albums with an epic song. On White Horse it was the title track. On Adam Again, it was Here He Comes. On The Builder, it was End Times. And here, they did not disappoint. Seasons of the Soul clocks in at just under seven minutes; it glides through several different musical movements (the first vocal isn't heard until 2:10 into the song), features some amazing individual musical performances (especially from Michael Omartian on piano and Keaggy on lead guitar), and delivers perhaps the album's most memorable message. 

If you haven't heard the song in a long time, read these lyrics again in light of Michael and Stormie's testimonies)...   

Whenever summer dreams start to fade and lose their light
And when the spring in your heart seems so cold it can't be right
And you feel like you've lost control
And the valley seems so low
Well it's not forever, just a season of the soul

So when you look for the Voice that you've known and no one's there
And when it seems the Caretaker's heart just doesn't care
It's the seasons of the soul
It's the seasons of the soul
Well it's not forever, it's the seasons of the soul

Beautiful stuff.

But don't take my word for it. I'm going to do something here that I've not done on any of these posts to date -- and that is to include some YouTube comments from average people. Now, you probably know that the comments section of social media sites is often described as the dark underbelly of the internet...and for good reason. But in this case, the comments are a sweet-smelling testament to the power of this much-loved song. Here's a sampling...

"...a treasured piece of vinyl. This one song helped me keep things in perspective through ups and downs."
-danjlanier

"Amazing song that has stuck in my head all these years. Got the dusty LP in another house I own. It's not forever...it's just a season of the soul!  God brings us through all in his overcoming grace through our Messiah Jesus."
-Nealix D. 

"This is the first time I have heard this song in many years, though several phrases have stuck with me through the years. 'When you feel the Caretaker's heart just doesn't care...it's the seasons of the soul.' Thank you, Michael Omartian, for your faithful use of what God gave you to share with others...for SO MANY years. That has to be Phil Keaggy on that guitar solo. No one else could do that, then or now!"
-Daryl Phillips







Michael and Stormie Omartian recorded three more albums together - 1980's The Builder, 1982's Mainstream, and a live album in 1983 with the 2nd Chapter of Acts. From there, Stormie capitalized on the 80s aerobics craze and recorded a couple of exercise albums (yes, exercise records were "a thing" in the 1980s). 



But Michael's career blew up in a huge way in 1980 when he produced the debut album of a then-unknown Austin, Texas singer/songwriter by the name of Christopher Cross. The album became a certified smash hit, winning several Grammy awards and shining a spotlight on the talents of Mr. Omartian. All in all, "Omar" (as his friends call him) has contributed his talents to over 350,000,000 albums sold worldwide as a producer, composer, arranger, artist or musician. He is the first record producer to chart #1 hits in three consecutive decades. With seventeen Grammy nominations including Producer of the Year, Album of the Year and Gospel Album of the Year, Omartian is a multiple Grammy Award and Dove Award winner. And yet, these accolades and milestones mean little to the Omartians. 





"There is really no way to measure your effect," says Stormie. "Ministry should be inspiring hearts. But you can’t put numbers to that. The only indicators are in the artists’ lives. God says that He will prosper those who are humble, and that as we give we will receive. That’s what you’ve got to look for. Michael and I are increasingly made aware of how little we have to offer apart from the Lord."





For her part, Stormie has become an in-demand speaker and best-selling author. Best-selling is an understatement. More than 28 million books have been sold that bear her name. That's a staggering number. Most of them come from her Power of a Praying series. In May 2002, The Power of a Praying Wife broke a 21-year industry record by claiming the number one spot on the CBA Marketplace bestsellers list for 27 consecutive months. It has stayed on the bestseller’s list for over 14 years. Through her books, Stormie has strengthened marriages and families, and has helped literally millions of people learn to experience a closer walk with God.





On the personal front, the Omartians have been married for more than 40 years and are parents to two adult children. They relocated in the 1990s from Southern California to Nashville.





Theirs is quite a story, the gory details of which were unknown to most of us during the 70s and 80s...but today their testimony of God's power to not only save and forgive, but also heal and set free is a vital part of their message to the world. A lot of that story was told on an album called Seasons of the Soul, for those who had ears to hear. When I think about Michael and Stormie Omartian, I'm reminded of a Bill Gaither chorus that we sang in church when I was young...



Something beautiful, something good

All my confusion He understood

All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife

But He made something beautiful out of my life


  



Fun Fact:
Stormie Sherk & Steve Martin

Stormie Omartian (then Stormie Sherk) dated Steve Martin when they were both young performers in Hollywood. Yep, that Steve Martin. In his memoir of his early days in comedy, Born Standing Up, Martin refers to Stormie as beautiful, witty and bright. In her book, she described him as bright and sensitive (not wild and crazy). She says it was her first normal, head-over-heels-in-love romance. She writes: "Steve made me feel beautiful, feminine and desirable for the first time in my life. However, our destiny did not include marriage. There was no sad parting, only an uncalculated drift. It would prove to be the only relationship in the first thirty years of my life for which I would have no regrets or bad feelings."

And, with apologies to the late Paul Harvey...now you know the rest of the story. 


Saturday, December 31, 2016

#42 BOOTLEG by Larry Norman (1972)

BOOTLEG by Larry Norman (1972)
One Way Records - JC4847
"This is rock and roll. Rock and roll, as you know, if you're an adult, means repetitious. So that's why the words are the same all throughout the song. Now if I give you a pattern it will be, uh, it will have a beat, you know? What is that word that man who thinks rock and roll is of the devil uses? Syncopation. Yeah, syncopation. I don't use words like that. Syncopation. Well this is rock and roll, so we'll syncopate it so you'll all know which side of the pearly gates it's on." 

-Larry Norman


Larry Norman was a prophet, a poet, and a public relations mastermind. Did he sometimes contradict himself and exaggerate his accomplishments? Yes, he did. But there’s no denying his foundational role in the birth and growth of Jesus Rock. He was there. His contributions were pivotal. His look, his voice, his mannerisms, his weirdness, his skill, his talents, his eccentricities, his aura -- whether authentic or contrived -- were all an indispensable part of the Jesus Movement milieu. The effect and importance of his songs cannot be overstated. He was a peaceful revolutionary who sometimes got in his own way and stepped on his message…but always pointed people to Jesus. Larry David Norman was there. On the front end. And Bootleg is auditory proof.  





Bootleg is to Jesus Movement devotees what the Holy Grail was to Indiana Jones. Which is silly to even say, since the Holy Grail is an unproven literary legend and Indiana Jones is a mythical character. But you get my drift. Bootleg is an important artifact from the Jesus Movement era; listening to it is almost like watching a documentary. Here, Larry Norman preserved a nice slice of history for future generations to discover and enjoy.

Larry Norman was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in April of 1947, the oldest of four children
Elvis Presley
of Joe and Margaret Norman. His father was a high school English teacher. The family moved to a what Larry described as a predominantly black neighborhood in California in the 1950s, placing Norman in the right place at the right time to (eventually) start a cultural revolution. It began innocently enough, with Larry performing his own rock ’n’ roll songs (such as they were) at school in the Bay area and in Sunday school at his church. Having trusted Christ at age five, Norman would later say that he felt Elvis Presley had stolen rock and roll from the black Pentecostal church in America and he was “determined to steal it back.” It’s been said that the genesis of his idea for marrying Christian lyrics with rock music began right then and there, resulting in his writing songs like Moses (which would later appear on his first solo album Upon This Rock). Norman would later claim that he was nine years old when he began to ponder this idea of combining the musical sounds of Elvis with the words of Jesus Christ (it’s fitting that Larry and Elvis were both inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in the same year – 2001). Meanwhile, while he did teach himself to play guitar and piano, Norman never learned to read music.


One of Larry’s childhood friends, Paul Tokunaga, would grow up to be an author and a high-ranking staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. But back in the 50s, Paul and Larry were just kids with competing paper routes (Paul delivered for the San Jose Mercury while Larry worked for the San Francisco Chronicle). Paul’s description of Larry is fascinating.

“Larry was white white,” Paul says. “He would’ve given chalk a good name. Back then his nearly white hair was in a crewcut. Crewcuts had been out for at least five years, maybe ten.”

Tokunaga was a few years younger than Norman, and says Larry kept his paper route well into his high school years, which was unusual. “I heard about Larry being constantly taunted by the jocks,” Paul remembers. “Once he was beaten up. He never fought back because he was a pacifist.”

Larry’s interest in and love for music helped him land a slot on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour, a forerunner to American Idol and America’s Got Talent. Norman formed a band called the Back Country Seven during his high school days with his sister and a friend. After opening for a band called People, he was invited to join the group as a lead singer. Norman ditched the crewcut and grew his hair down to his shoulders. Paul Tokunaga recalls watching People play as Larry “danced, pranced and sang, his wild mane of nearly white hair taking on a life of its own.”





People ended up with a hit on their hands – a million-selling cover of I Love You (originally released by The Zombies). They opened for the likes of Jimi Handrix, The Doors, The Who, Janis Joplin, and many other heavyweight secular acts of the late 60s.  






Larry Norman left People to begin a solo career and spent several years witnessing and performing on the streets of Hollywood, as well as writing for musical theater. During these years, Larry’s classic Upon This Rock was released on Capitol Records, an album that is generally credited with being the world’s first Christian rock album. Technically released in 1969, Upon This Rock has been approved by the author of this post (yours truly) for inclusion on this list and will be thoroughly explored and reviewed in a future post on this blog. For now, let’s just call it a Game Changer, not just for Christian music but for Christendom at large. Never mind that it didn’t sell briskly initially; the whole way we communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ through music changed forever the day Upon This Rock hit store shelves.





The next couple of years for Norman were marked by an association with First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, more street ministry, and well-timed appearances at Explo ’72.

A young Steve Camp was in attendance at Explo ’72, a week-long gathering in Dallas, Texas that made the cover of Life magazine and has since been called a “Christian Woodstock.” 





“My most vivid remembrance of the heart of Larry Norman is something I witnessed at Explo '72,” Camp wrote in his blog upon Norman’s death in 2008. “Larry had just done an outdoor concert at Southern Methodist University. He was heading downtown and several of us followed to see what he would do next. We saw him talking to some policemen. A few minutes later they were kneeling at that street corner with Larry, praying to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. I will never forget that powerful image as long as I live. Larry had an unmistakable evangelist’s heart and a burden for those that the established church either rejected or alienated.”


All of this was happening against a backdrop of a far-reaching, grass-roots, organic, authentic, spiritual revival among young people on the West Coast. Hippies were turning away from the empty promises of drugs and sexual promiscuity and embracing Jesus. Churched kids who had rejected the piety and legalism of their parents’ religion were finding God on their own terms. Leaders like Chuck Smith, Arthur Blessitt, Jack Sparks, Ted Wise, Jim Durkin, Greg Laurie, Duane Pederson, Kathryn Kuhlman, Hal Lindsey, and others either founded para-church ministries to help reach and disciple these new converts or simply welcomed them into established churches.   

During this time Larry was reportedly running a halfway house, performing his songs for anyone who’d listen, and earning $80 per month for “refining and polishing songs” for Capitol artists.

While Larry Norman played a huge part in exhorting and exciting the young people who were becoming believers during the Jesus Movement, he at times seemed disconnected from the movement itself, telling reporters that it made him uncomfortable. Since he himself was not one of the youth who had recently come to Christ and had no ‘personal testimony’ of ‘getting high on Jesus’ and forsaking drugs and sex, he didn’t feel completely at home with the new converts or with the established Church, feeling caught somewhere between. Consider this excerpt from Mark Allan Powell’s Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music:

If there was a “conversion experience” it was not from the hippie culture to the Church, but the other way around. Norman came as a young Christian to embrace parts of the counter-cultural youth movement, while clearly rejecting other aspects of it. He never did drugs and he was not noted for protesting the Vietnam War or for supporting civil rights. He did, however, grow his hair down to his waist and learn to play protest songs of Dylanesque stature. He spoke in the idiom of the day (minus obscenities) and he espoused enough anti-institutionalism and showed sufficient disrespect for (selected) authorities to earn him a place in the hearts of America’s hippie youth. Most of all, he embraced rock and roll…







Norman’s message was finding an audience and making its mark. His appearance was striking, his approach confrontational, and his lyrics provocative. Blogger Michael Spencer wrote that Norman had an eccentric personality that made every concert and interview memorable…with total disregard for what was accepted or acceptable among Christians. The totality of the package that was Larry Norman was very intriguing to a whole lot of people, and won him a loyal following among the Jesus freaks, first in California, and then across the country and even overseas. Author and historian Mark Allan Powell wrote that Larry Norman would end up “the single most important individual in the development of the genre” of Christian rock music.

Unhappy with the way he’d been treated by record labels, both secular and Christian, he established one of his own – One Way Records. He reportedly used a $3,000 loan from a forward-looking, sympathetic Pat Boone and used the money to record three albums: Street Level, Bootleg, and Randy Stonehill’s debut, Born Twice.



Bootleg made this list for its historical importance, not for its production values or musical performance. It’s been called “the original unplugged album”…”another underground winner for Larry”…and “one of the finest albums of Norman’s career.”

Despite the title, Bootleg was perfectly legal. Intimate and unpretentious, it is a 2-album collection of songs, monologues, and interviews that gives the listener an excellent sense of what God was doing through the Jesus Movement. The album’s Wikipedia entry describes it as a “retrospective covering four years of Norman's career [1968-1972] compiled from demonstration recordings made while at Capitol, private recordings from his friends, and various interviews and live performances.” A full dozen or so of the songs on Bootleg would appear (or had already appeared) in more fully-produced studio versions on his proper record label releases...so, as the album title suggests, these are basically demos or 'bootleg' recordings.


It was claimed that the album was deliberately recorded to sound like an unauthorized recording to ensure reception by street people. "Many songs which ended up being released on Bootleg weren't really finished,” Larry said in 1999, “but I had to release the album immediately so it wouldn't violate the terms of my MGM contract which was soon going to be in effect. I just didn't have time to finish it. I didn't have the budget to make it a real album, I just used songs laying around to fill it up, which I regretted."

[Make of that what you will. You’ve probably noticed that I include very few quotes from Larry in the posts on this blog. That’s because, in all honesty, I don’t consider them to be reliable. I love the man. He had, and continues to have, a tremendous positive influence on me, both musically and spiritually. If there was a Christian Rock Mt. Rushmore, his likeness would be the first one chiseled in granite. But he was the consummate promoter, always concerned about projecting a certain image and controlling how he was perceived. Like I said earlier, he was prone to exaggeration and contradiction. So you won’t read a lot of Larry quotes in these posts because, sadly, he’s gone now…so they just can’t be corroborated.]



Now...this is a Larry Norman album, so of course there were multiple versions of Bootleg released for you collectors out there -- lots of label and cover variations. Larry was always good about giving you several different versions to track down, because, well, that's just fun, right? Happy collecting!

Side One of Bootleg was labeled "The Early Tapes" and covered the year 1968. It begins with a rambunctious romp - just Larry at the piano, singing a song called I Think I Love You. The raw, bootleg quality of the recording is evident from the very beginning, with mistakes on the piano clearly heard. It seems that this song is unique to Bootleg; it begins as if it's a love song to a girl, but later it becomes clear that Larry is talking to the Lord:

I think I love You
I've only known You for a couple of hours
I think I love You
When You're near it's like a roomful of flowers

We met last Monday in the L.A. heat
In the downtown section on a one-way street
The man with the Bible dropped a track at my feet
You know the rest, Your way is always the best

I think I love You
You're the best thing that's happened to me
I think I love You
I used to wonder where You could be

I used to seek after truth and follow where it led
So many facts and philosophies inside my head
I heard so many people telling me You was dead
I bet they all owned a Bible that's never been read

All my life I've been wondering what I should do
Suddenly I stopped wondering
'Cause I really found the answer when I fell in love with You

I think I love You
And I know that You love me

I think I love You
And I know You first loved me

You're not dead
You're not even sick

A 2:15 stripped-down version of Walking Backwards Down the Stairs follows. For my money, this song is better experienced on Upon This Rock...but Larry's vocal here does give it an intimacy that's almost eerie.

Larry sings a somewhat sloppy harmony vocal with himself on the brilliant Ha Ha World, another song that sounded much better on Upon This Rock. This definitely sounds like a demo. One reviewer said this is what Ha Ha World would've sounded like had it been recorded by Jefferson Airplane.

After a brief instrumental sidebar titled Classical Mandolin, it's yet another song from Upon This Rock - I Don't Believe in Miracles. Larry's plaintive vocal over mandolin and a drumming performance by Hilly Michaels that is, um, interesting. 

Side One of Bootleg wraps with a Yuletide classic called The Day That a Child Appeared. There weren't very many bonafide Christmas classics among the Jesus Music artists. Christmastime recorded by both Larry and Randy Stonehill would definitely fall into that category, as would Stonehill's Christmas Song (For All Year Round). But this one is also very special. It certainly seems right at home on this collection of stripped down, intimate rarities. Larry turns in a chilling vocal performance over slow, piano bar blues as he calls on us to refocus on the purpose of the Christmas season for the Christian...


I was thinking just last Sunday
That the world confuses one day
With the rest throughout the year
And that one day is the day that a child appeared.

Just a baby in a manger
But the room was filled with strangers
And the star hung in the sky
Like an angel on the day that a child appeared.

Little children please remember
Why we celebrate December
It's much more than Santa Claus
But you're right about the gift and tree
A gift of life at Calvary

Larry's playing in a major key as he sings about Santa Claus, but subtly shifts to minor chords as he talks about the cross at Calvary...a technique that can go unnoticed, but was highly effective. The Day That a Child Appeared would turn up again on a 2002 Collector's Edition CD reissue of Upon This Rock, and on a 2014 release titled Christmastime...but for many years, it was found only here on Bootleg.

Side Two of the first record is labeled The "One Way" Sessions and covers 1969. 

What Goes Through Your Mind was recorded with a full band, but it's a bit of a downer. The song is talking to a female friend or lover who apparently has big doubts about the afterlife and whether God is even real. With lines like You know your life is hell / But you've learned to hide it well and If you're trying to flee the world / You're gonna be let down / And the sea of people don't care / If you live or you drown...well, it's a little depressing. This is another track that turned up on some of Larry's many compilations decades later, but it was heard first on Bootleg.

Along with full-length songs, Bootleg also contains what one reviewer called "evocative little snatches of music and lyrics," tracks that seem like pieces of songs or song ideas. The next track, No Change Can Attend is a good example. Clocking in at about a minute, I would've loved to hear this fleshed out into a more complete song. The lyrical sentiment is that while human affection, opinions and moral views change, God's love remains constant, a rock we can cling to and depend on. 

Every human tie may perish
Friend to friend unfaithful prove
Mothers cease their own to cherish
Heaven and earth at last remove
And the music world grows garish
While the moral codes regroove
But no change can attend Jehovah's love

We're back to just piano for this one, with Larry delivering a raw and passionate vocal performance.

The classic anthem One Way is up next, again just Larry at the piano, sounding very much like an intimate live recording. This song, of course, appears on other albums as well.

A Song Won't Stop the World was a departure, with its country Gospel feel. Unique to Bootleg, this one had lyrics that gave a nod to societal changes in the late 60s and took a jab at the press (as Larry was wont to do)...

This world's in trouble
You know it's true

But who has the answers
To help us get through?
We look to our leaders
They politely yawn
The press gives coverage
And the world goes on

The radio's blastin'
The music's loud
A message is given
To a face in the crowd
By a prophet of music
A poet of song
The truth is spoken
And the world goes on

A song can't stop the world
From goin' round
This song won't stop the world
From being unsound
But it might change a heart
Change a heart or two
No, it can't stop the world 
But it might stop you

Blue Shoes White is a lively rock and roll performance, this time Larry on a terrible sounding acoustic guitar. He uses 'a pair of shoes' and 'rhythm and blues' to effectively present the salvation message: If you're steppin' through life, then my appeal / Is to follow in His footsteps and get your soles re-heeled / And if ya wanna give your feet a treat / Then get ready to walk down that golden street...



By the way, the rough and raw sonic quality of a lot of these songs does not diminish them; to the contrary, it reminds the listener that he or she is hearing something special...that he or she has the next best thing to a front row seat to the history that Larry made with these songs in the late 60s and early 70s. Besides, with a title like Bootleg, you kind of know what you're getting, right?

Next up was a pre-In Another Land version of the very dark, end times warning Six Sixty Six (The Anti-Christ). Backing himself on guitar, this one sounds very much like a stripped down demo. 

After an interesting song snippet - Taking My Time - Side Two of the first record concludes with another Norman masterpiece that was later recorded on In Another Land. Here, I've Searched All Around is a little raw, but Norman is backed by a full band. 


Now we're getting to what really makes Bootleg special. Side Three, labeled Mixed Media (1970-1971), is a section of the album that might not hold up well to repeated listening...but, more than anything else, this is what qualifies Bootleg as a prized audio documentary.

AllMusic's Jason Anderson wrote, "Listeners who are so inclined should pay special attention to the spoken section on Side Three of Bootleg. The 'grandfather of CCM' testifies eloquently about his belief and how it is translated through his music. Many a CCM artist and preacher (of any faith) could learn from Norman's delivery, which is typically humorous and humble." Mark Allan Powell wrote, "These interviews and spoken monologues provide valuable and authentic documentaion of the thinking that fueled the Jesus Movement...enthusiasm, unflinching commitment, and a generous amount of sardonic joy."

The first track is titled Television Interview. In it, a TV news reporter attempts to learn more about the Jesus People, their music and their beliefs. Larry deftly and patiently explains the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus, and the validity and veracity of the Scriptures. Larry often complained about the press, but he was great in moments like these. He had a way of answering these questions that just drew you in...commanding your attention and causing you to hang on every word.





Next up was, for me, the undisputed highlight of the album. Norman addressed Let the Lions Come to Russia for Christ Ministries, which was founded by David V. Benson in 1958. It is scary...beautiful...haunting...prophetic. In a 2008 eulogy for Larry, fellow Jesus Music pioneer John Fischer called him a prophet. He then wrote, "There are undoubtedly those who would challenge me on that statement, but I will not recant. He was an enigma--an iconoclast. He could be so far off you wondered if he was only visiting this planet, but he could be so on the mark that you could only credit the truth and light of the Holy Spirit for it." Beautifully put.

I listened again recently to Let the Lions Come for the first time in a very long time. Tears filled my eyes and spilled over; it is as powerful today as ever. To print his words here would only serve to cheapen them; you'll have to listen to the track yourself. But I suggest that you listen through headphones in a dark room for full impact.





Jesus and the Movies suffers from poor audio quality, but it puts Larry's humor front and center, complete with impersonations of John Wayne and Walter Brennan. It's funny stuff.  

Another of the album's highlights is something called Addressing the National Youth Workers Convention which is actually a hilarious live recording of Larry's classic sing-along, Sweet Sweet Song of Salvation. The song was one of the hits from Upon This Rock and would later be recorded by everyone from Evie to the Imperials, from Selah to Rebecca St James, and probably dozens more. Here, Larry's wit steals the show as he tries to get a convention of youth pastors and leaders to clap and sing along with him. Larry drops into what today might even be called a free-style rap, as he reminds these leaders that they are first and foremost followers...of Christ. Interestingly, he also name-drops President Nixon and the UN, drawing more laughs from the crowd. It's basically a 12-minute demonstration of the kind of hold Larry Norman could have over an audience...with just a microphone and a guitar. Classic stuff.






The final side of Bootleg is labeled Maranatha (1971-1972). This one contains no fewer than eight tracks.

When I First Met You is a little over a minute long and features a beautiful melody over some rich chords. 

When I first saw you I was all alone
Wishing for a love I could call my own
Watching a dream step out of time
Suddenly this came to my mind
When maybe you...
I'm hoping that maybe we...
I'm praying that maybe you and I
Can spend our lives together

This was another one that was just begging for a longer, full-length treatment. Gone way too soon!

Without Love You Are Nothing (AKA Righteous Rocker) get a gritty, fuzzed-up, full band treatment. It's one of the more hard rock moments on Bootleg. But more impressive versions of this song appear elsewhere.

Another one-minute snippet at the piano comes in the form of A Love Like Yours. It's a heart-cry to God...

With a love like Yours
A man could live in beauty and in grace
If I were a king I'd give everything
Just to see Your face

With a love like Yours
A man could be completely satisfied
He'd have no more fears
He'd shed no more tears
And have no more need to hide

You have saved me
You have saved me
You have saved me from myself 

The bluesy You Can Save Me was a standout track. It's a live recording with Norman accompanying himself on guitar. It's a prayer to the Lord that is alternately touching and funny...

You can save me
If You want to
Come and save me
'Cause I want You to

Come inside me
I will let You
I will let You wash away my sins
I sure am glad I met You
God, You know I love You
But I've been so bad, God
How can You love me?

I can't see You
But I know You're there
And I can't touch You
But I know You care
God, I love You
And I just bought Your book
I took it home and had a real long look
And this may not sound nice
But my favorite part is where You died for me

God I love You
I'm so happy
You saved my life
I was messed up
I was honky-jive
You know what I'm talking about?
Got Your Spirit
Now I feel so young
You have saved me
Even gave me tongues
Jesus, I'm so happy
I just wish that all my friends would let You in


Larry's back at the piano for a Second Coming ballad called Even If You Don't Believe. This one had a really nice chord progression and hit on a recurring theme of the Jesus Movement.


Even if you don't believe it's gonna come true
Even if you don't believe it's gonna happen to you
He's gonna come down
Take a last look around
And with both feet off the ground
You'll be homeward bound

We'll all be homeward bound...

Bootleg closes with a trio of tunes that would later be recorded either on Only Visiting This Planet, In Another Land, or both.

UFO works on one level with just Larry and his guitar, but it would later benefit tremendously from the production values that a bigger budget would buy on In Another Land

Bootleg gives us a garage band version of Why Don't You Look Into Jesus, a song that one author said established Norman as "the ultimate Christian rocker." I'm sure this version of the song was wildly exciting in early 1972; better recordings of this classic song were on the way, thankfully.

Larry closes out Bootleg with Song for a Small Circle of Friends which contains some shout-outs to friends and fellow musicians, along with his desire that they would all recognize and experience the reality of God's love.

At the time of this recording, Larry Norman's reach and influence was already being felt in a powerful way, both in the Church and beyond the Church. But we hadn't seen or heard nothin' yet. He was just warming up.

In his 2008 obituary for Larry, John Fischer also wrote these words:

"I have always likened Larry to John the Baptist--a non-conformist living in the desert wearing funny clothes, eating weird foods and hearing voices no one else heard... In a time of spiritual revolution, Larry Norman carried the torch. He was and will remain, through his enigmatic music, a voice crying in the wilderness." 




I'm not particularly afraid of what's going to happen in the United States. 

I'm glad, in a way, because it's going to force a lot of people to make a choice and not be so casual. 

When you don't have a church to go to, you going to wish you had fellowship. 

And those of you who are Christians are really going to treasure your Christianity more, and it's going to mean something to you, and it's going to work more for you because you're going to commit yourself to it more. 

And you'll start tearing out pages from your Bible.

I'm not afraid of the Russians coming or the Chinese or the World Council of Churches, if that's gonna be our enemies, too. 

Let them come. 

I'm not afraid of the lions. 

Let them eat me. 

They can't swallow my soul. 

They can't touch us. 

They can't get us. 

We've been bought with the price and nobody's got enough money or enough force to buy us back. 

They can't touch you. 

And when they come you just pray for them. 

And when they lead you away, you just sing "Glory to God." 

And when they shoot you... 

Just smile.

-Larry Norman