Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#49 CHUCK GIRARD by Chuck Girard (1975)

CHUCK GIRARD by Chuck Girard (1975)
Good News • MYR-1025
In the early 90s my Dad was pastoring a church in Taylors, South Carolina. I don't remember the details as to how it came about...but at some point I learned that Chuck Girard was coming to our church for two services - a Sunday morning and Sunday night. Now, I gotta tell ya…I was just a little star-struck at the thought of meeting Chuck. Yeah, my brothers and I grew up in south Alabama, but we knew full well who Chuck Girard was and the role that he played in Love Song and the Jesus Movement. We had even recorded one of his songs – You Ask Me Why – on our very first custom LP when we were still kids. A friend of ours (who also happened to be the worship leader at our church) was just as smitten as we were. Chuck Girard was larger than life to all of us.

Chuck arrived on schedule and he not only ministered to our church in a very meaningful and anointed way, he also took time to talk and visit and fellowship with some guys who had been somewhat in awe of him during their formative years (that would be us). We were able to share a meal with him and also spent some time around the piano, just talking, laughing, playing snippets of songs, telling stories, and listening. It was one of the perks of being a PK, I suppose. (Um…PK means preacher’s kid, by the way.)

That's me with Chuck Girard sometime in the early 90s.
I'm the one with the unfortunate haircut.
Standing, L-R: Dohn Bower, Tim Bachmann, Chuck Girard.
I'm seated at the piano.
Living Praise Worship Center, Taylors, SC

Author and historian Mark Allen Powell has written that “Chuck Girard is without question one of the most important people in the history of Contemporary Christian Music.” He says that while Larry Norman introduced Christian rock to the world, Chuck Girard introduced it to the Church. He did that as front man for the band Love Song before embarking on a promising career as a solo artist. But Girard’s musical journey began much earlier than his spiritual one.

A lot of Jesus Music fans seem to think that Chuck Girard’s musical output began at that ‘little country church’ in Costa Mesa. Nope. After growing up in Santa Rosa, California, Chuck formed a band called The Castells while still in high school. The Castells, with their early 60s California sound, had 4 songs that charted nationally, allowing a young Chuck Girard to share the stage with artists like Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee, and others. This was about 2 years before The Beatles arrived in the USA.

After three years with The Castells, Chuck and Joe Kelley left the group to form The Hondells with Gary Usher, Brian Wilson and Glen Campbell. This group had three national hits, including Little Honda, a song about a motorcycle that went to #9 in the country and is still played on oldies rock stations today. Little Honda was written by Brian Wilson (later of Beach Boys fame) but Chuck Girard sang the lead vocal.

In the late 60s Girard grew his hair long, became a vegetarian, grew a beard, began searching for ‘enlightenment,’ and started experimenting with eastern religions and hallucinogenic drugs. In other words, he became a full-fledged California hippie. He embarked on a 5-year journey to find God through music, philosophy and LSD. The only thing he found was a little jail time (he was arrested twice for possession).

"I got more and more into alcohol during this period, and slowly but steadily my life went out of control," Chuck recalls. "I needed booze on sessions, I thought, and often got so drunk I couldn't sing. Later I discovered marijuana, and wondered where that had been all of my life! About a year into marijuana, the publicity began to hit on the hippie scene, and I got into LSD."

At this point Chuck was in a group called Six The Hardway. They wound up playing at the Pussycat A Go Go on the Vegas strip with another band that featured a young man by the name of Denny Correll. "One night on a break, Denny got us all in the back room," Chuck remembers. "'You have to accept Jesus, man, you have to repent and get your life right,' he preached. The force of his conviction, his boldness and his personality deeply affected me, and I knew I had to look into this."

Girard relocated to Hawaii for a while and basically dropped out of society. When he arrived back in the mainland, the Holy Spirit drew him through a series of events to a place called Calvary Chapel where he met Pastor Chuck Smith. He also met Jesus. And he finally found the peace and joy he’d been searching for. He received the Holy Spirit baptism about a week later.

Early Love Song promotional photo
L-R: Fred Field, Chuck Girard, Tommy Coomes, John Mehler, Jay Truax
Now, Girard was already in a band called Love Song, writing and performing songs about a generic
spiritual quest that none of the members really knew much of anything about. It was truly the blind leading the blind. But once Jesus got a hold of their lives, the band’s songwriting took a radical turn and their performances were truly anointed. Their debut album caused quite a stir within Christendom and is dearly loved to this day. Something tells me we’ll be taking a close look at that record much later in our countdown.

But after three whirlwind years with Love Song, the members went in different directions (although they would often reunite through the years for sporadic live performances and reunion projects). Love Song members Tommy Coomes, Jay Truax and John Mehler formed Wing and a Prayer with Al Perkins and Tom Stipe. Truax and Mehler later became part of the Richie Furay Band, while Coomes became an executive with Maranatha! Music. Coomes and Mehler also released solo recordings along the way. But it was Chuck Girard who had been most responsible for giving Love Song its signature sound. A solo career for Girard just made sense.

Which brings us to our featured recording. In his Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, author Mark Allen Powell calls this record a “masterpiece” and “a flawless collection of pop songs with powerful evangelical themes.” Blogger David Lowman says it’s “an essential Jesus Music album that belongs in everyone’s collection.” The so-called California sound dominates much of the album, recalling Girard’s early association with Brian Wilson and company. But 70s-era rock and roll also makes an appearance, as well as what would now be considered intimate worship (ahead of its time in 1975). The album is marked by excellent musicianship, with several members of the band Ambrosia lending a hand in the studio.

It’s a self-titled album…but it wasn’t intended to be. Girard originally wanted to name the album ‘Rock and Roll Preacher’ after the record’s first track. But the suits and ties at Word Records nixed that idea. “They told me that if the album appeared with the words ‘rock and roll’ in the title, none of the Christian bookstores would carry it, and if they did, no one would buy it, therefore the album would be a flop,” Girard remembers. After all, this was 1975. So it was decided that the album would be eponymous. Chuck has said it was not his usual style to bow to conventional wisdom or industry advice, but he saw the wisdom in this counsel. He said that since this was his first solo album, he wanted to make a record that would ruffle as few feathers as possible.

Side One opens with the aforementioned autobiographical rocker Rock ‘N Roll Preacher. No mystery here: the teenaged Girard literally spent all of his spare time listening to music and, like the song said, picking out the chords and melodies to popular songs by ear on his family’s piano. Back in the era of the Big Three major television networks, American Bandstand was a hugely influential vehicle for exposing audiences to new music, so Chuck has said he wanted to mention the show in the song, and he did. Christopher North of Ambrosia actually played piano on this track, not Chuck. The track relies heavily on the bravado and swagger of David Pack's electric guitar (also of Ambrosia) and a crisp horn section (Chuck Findley, Jackie Kelso and the aptly named Jim Horn). The piano and brass give the song a retro feel that fits nicely with the lyric content.

I want you to know I still love rock 'n' roll music
But now I have something to say
I'll sing you my song and maybe you'll sing along
And we'll make us a noise they'll hear in Heavenly places

Who'd ever thought I'd be a rock 'n' roll preacher
'Stead of just singin' the blues
Who'd ever thought I'd be a rock 'n' roll preacher
Singing my song so you can hear the Good News

"It was my simple, obvious idea in this song to communicate two ideas," said Chuck. "One, that we never know where we will end up in life for sure - I never dreamed there would ever be a time when I would be singing 'Jesus Music.' The other idea was to communicate the joy of discovering the real reason anyone is given a gift or talent - to serve God."

You Ask Me Why first came to my attention on the Jubilation, Too double LP sampler set. I later played it many times as my brothers and I performed it and even recorded it. Girard admits that this upbeat, pop song was based on a variation of a Carol King riff. Chuck says, "It speaks of the joy and optimism that can be a part of the Christian mindset if we choose it. In a world which is coming unglued at the seams, the Christian has perspective that God is in control, and no matter how bad it may seem in the natural, Jesus is Lord. I wanted to include the idea that while people are screaming for answers, the answer is right there if they are open to receive it." Interestingly, background vocals on this song were supplied by two of Andrae Crouch's Disciples: Bili Thedford and Perry Morgan.

The next song, Evermore, was written earlier during the Love Song years and lyrically, it shows (not that that's a bad thing!). It's typical of the "I'm just so glad I'm saved!" mindset of early Jesus people:

I love the feelin' when I get up in the morning
And my heart is beating fast with gladness
Oh what a feeling when I rise and think about you
You wash away all morning sadness

I know that I am walking
In the lighted path and you are watching over me
I know that I was blinded
But you came into my life and touched me and now I see

I know that you are faithful
And you love me even if I grieve you for awhile
And even though I make you sad
You look upon me and forgive me with a smile

According to Chuck, Evermore had a most unusual genesis: "Evermore was one of two or three songs that I received in dreams," Chuck revealed. "The song is completely written in the dream, and when I wake up, it lingers. If I go right to the piano, I can capture most of the basic idea." Love Song were living rent-free with some members of Calvary Chapel during their first year as Christians (to help them get on their feet). Maybe that's one reason Chuck was loving the feelin' he had when he woke up in the morning! No, seriously...they were literally benefiting from the generosity of God's people, enjoying close fellowship with brothers and sisters, and having their needs met like the early believers in the book of Acts. No wonder Chuck was inspired to write about the joys of this new life with Christ!

Chuck worked overtime on the ending to Evermore, supplying stacked background vocals that sounded like a small army!

Quiet Hour was a melodic ballad that Chuck said was "a love song to God." It talks about what a lot of us today would call 'devotional time' or 'quiet time':

When the day is done and gone, and shades of evening come along
I sit alone and think of you,and thank you that I have this quiet hour
Alone with you
My quiet hour, to be with you

I don't have to say a word, and yet I know each word is heard
Makes no difference where I am, you're there to join me in my quiet hour
Alone with you

And my desire, my desire is to be with you

Once again, the stacked vocal harmonies are worth the price of admission (did anybody do that better than this guy?). Acoustic guitars figure heavily into this one, played by Ambrosia bandmates David Pack and Joe Puerta. "The high, tinkley sound throughout the song was achieved by tapping a pencil on the side of a glass ash tray that was in the studio," Chuck reveals. "I was just playing with it and liked the sound, so I recorded it. In the 'hoo-la-la-la-la' part, I used an actual conch shell which I purchased and actually learned to blow myself. It gave it that 'Hawaii' sound."

Pre-Christian Love Song. Clockwise from top left:
Denny Correll, John Mehler, Chuck, Jessie Johnston,
Jay Truax, Bobby Guidotti. Center: Larry Brittain.
Speaking of Hawaii, Side One closes with a song that Chuck wrote with the late Denny Correll while they were living there, before they even became Christians. "I love Everybody Knows For Sure," says Chuck. "I had just learned a few chords on the guitar, and I wrote this in a whisper voice which actually kind of united with the sound of the wind outside. The vocal arrangement was intended to be kind of a vocal orchestra. The instrumentation is just guitar, organ and organ bass pedal with the voices being featured. The lyric is just a device to give the song a little something to say, intended to be a plaintive beckoning invitation to know God."

This moody, ethereal gem features Christopher North on organ, Tommy Morgan on harmonica, and Chuck himself on the organ bass pedals.

Chuck Girard boasted some stellar studio musicians including guitarist Dean Parks and drummers Jim Keltner and Ambrosia member Burleigh Drummond (who went on much later to play drums for the Lost Dogs). Produced by Chuck, the album was engineered by Billy Taylor and Chuck Johnson and recorded at Mama Jo's in North Hollywood. Tom Trefethen mixed most of the album and is credited with "additional recording." The song Lay Your Burden Down was mixed by Billy Taylor. 

The front cover photo, taken by Joel Nussbaum, is a dramatic close-up portrait of Chuck. It's as if he's saying, "Yeah, I was in a band. But it's just me now." [You may remember that neither of the two early Love Song albums featured the band members on the front cover.] Dean Torrence provided the art design & layout for the cover.

In the album's credits, Chuck sends special thanks to his wife Karen, Pastor Chuck Smith, Freddie Piro, and the group Ambrosia.

Every decent mid-70s Jesus Music album had to have a Bible story set to music...and Galilee did the trick on this record, leading off Side Two. Girard relates a funny story that goes with the song: "There was a gospel group I enjoyed even before I was a Christian. They were called the Jubilee Four and were on the same label I was with the Castells. I actually got them into the studio to do the background vocals. They were in the studio, but had some kind of falling out regarding the money for the session, and actually did not sing on the record....walked right out of the studio! So we hired the women singers, who just burned up the track. Ironically, this was an all-white singing group who really did a great job." Their names were Kathi McDonald and Lea Santos-Roberti. Galilee also features a great sax solo by Jackie Kelso.

Chuck Girard says he's received more questions about the next song than any other throughout his long and storied career. "Who was Tinagera?"

Here's the scoop, from Chuck himself: "The opening line of this song was 'She was young, she was born in the teenage era.' To me, the teenage era was when I became a teenager, the 50's, when in my opinion, teenagers came into their own as a social group in a way unique in history. I believe this is true because of the ability of 20th century media to shape our perceptions of culture. Elvis and rock 'n' roll provided a music that was just for teenagers, birthed out of a kind of rebellion indigenous to the teenagers of the time. Movies like Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and the persona in particular of James Dean epitomized the teenage image and the kind of 'cool' that teenagers wanted to be like no other time in history. So this song was intended to reflect the fairly recent phenomena of teenagers who are forced to confront grownup problems before they are adults, and are effectively robbed of their youth. As I worked with the first line, which I always intended to change later, the words 'teenage era' sort of slurred into 'Tinagera,' which sounded to me like a girl's name. I thought it would be artsy to use it as a symbolic name representing every youth who fits the description of the girl in the song. I don't know why I specifically chose a female image, perhaps it seemed more sympathetic to me. As I crossed that first bridge, I decided to also call the place she came from 'Tinagera.' Musically, I wanted to use the format of a 'doo-wop' song, but did not want to create a parody. I wanted to use the genre in a serious way to underscore the teenage aspect of the theme, as that was the music of my teenage years and many who would be listening to the song. I put all the '50s influences I could into the song, from the chords to the Phil Spectorish castanets at the end. The original background vocals were sung by The Innocents, who had several hits in the '60s. When we got the vocals on the song, they seemed too low and a bit dated for the track, and I blew them off, a decision I regret today. David Pack and I re-arranged a more contemporary but very busy background vocal arrangement which took days to record. Many of the subtleties were lost in the mix, and though the vocals served the track, I really would like to have heard The Innocents' vocals which would have been more fitting as I look back on it. This song touched a chord with many people, and even today I hear testimonies of how God had used this song.

For me, the highlight of this album is the 3-song suite that closes the record. While they do not cross-fade into each other, the songs Lay Your Burden Down, Slow Down and Sometimes Alleluia combine to create a mini-trilogy of tunes that minister in a very effective way to this day.

"When I sequenced this album with those three songs in succession, I caught some resistance from some record company execs that putting three such ballads in a row would create a 'boring' segment and may hurt the sales of the album," Chuck recalls. "To their credit, I was never dictated to in those days, and my decision stood, as I felt that this would not be a boring segment, but would really minister to many people. I believe my decision was the right one, as no other segment of my work has ever garnered more favorable response."

Chuck has said that he wasn't exposed to a lot of Gospel or spiritual music growing up, but after becoming a Christian he noticed the phrase "lay your burden down at the cross" in several gospel songs and hymns and wanted to pen an update on this concept. "I thought this was an idea that needed to be contemporized, and I set about to write a song that would communicate this idea to my audience," Girard explains. It's a timeless message...

Lay your burden down, lay your burden down
Take your troubled soul, your tired mind
And lay your burden down

Lay your burden down, get your feet on solid ground
Take your worries to the foot of the cross, and lay your burden down

You've been tryin' hard to make it all alone
Tryin' hard to make it on your own
And the strength you once were feelin', isn't there no more
And you think the wrong you've done, is just too much to be forgiven
But you know that isn't true
Just lay your burden down,....He has Forgiven you

Lay your burden down, lay your burden down
Take your burden to the cross, and lay it down
Lay your burden down, lay your burden down
Take your worries to the cross and lay them down

In the song's fadeout, Chuck said he was trying to simulate the sound of a hammer on wood, as if it were nailing the hands of Jesus to the cross.

Song #2 in this set is based on the Scriptural directive to "Be still and know that I am God." Slow Down contains a clear and simple message, one that is even more important today than when it was first written and recorded.

In the midst of my confusion

In the time of desperate need
When I am thinking not too clearly
A gentle voice does intercede

Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He is God

In the time of tribulation
When I'm feeling so unsure
When things are pressing in about me
Comes a gentle voice so still, so pure

At this point, there's an exaggerated pause or hold, as Chuck lingers on the word slow...which serves and illustrates the meaning of the song perfectly...

Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He is God

Interestingly, Chuck recalls that the session players were having a difficult time on this one, so he brought in his sister-in-law, Gina Price, to play piano on the track. She had never played in a studio setting before, but did a great job on this now-classic song. Girard has said that Slow Down generates more mail and comment than any other song he's ever written.

Chuck Girard wraps with Chuck Girard's most well-known song and the first worship song he ever wrote: Sometimes Alleluia.

Girard tells the story of how this anointed song came to be: "One weekend someone gave us the use of a cabin in a Southern California resort area, and a bunch of us went up for a weekend of R&R. I'm not sure who all went, but it was wintertime, and we sat around the fireplace the first night to just worship. I had a guitar and I began to think about the different ways in which we express our heart to God. 'Sometimes alleluia...sometimes praise the Lord,' etc., and the chorus was born. I didn't think much about it then, and basically just forgot about it. A few years later when I was preparing to record the Chuck Girard album, I told my wife Karen that I wanted to put a worship song on the album. She reminded me about the little chorus we sang up at the cabin. I said 'Nah...that's too simple, I need a real song.' Karen said, 'No, I have a feeling about that song. You need to finish it.' I went to the piano and the verses were written in about 20 minutes."

Little did he know he had just written the signature song of his career.

The song was a preview of the direction Chuck's ministry would take in the future, as he became a true worship leader, inspiring and teaching others to follow his lead.

Sometimes alleluia
Sometimes praise the Lord
Sometimes gently singing
Our hearts in one accord

Oh let us lift our voices
Look toward the sky and start to sing
Oh let us now return His love
Just let our voices ring

Oh let us feel His presence
Let the sound of praises fill the air
Oh let us sing the song of Jesus' love
To people everywhere

Oh let our joy be unconfined
Let us sing with freedom unrestrained
Let's take this feeling that we're feeling now
Outside these walls and let it rain

Oh let the Spirit overflow
As we are filled from head to toe
We love you Father, Son and Holy Ghost
And we want this world to know

"An interesting side note is that a few years later I was introduced to the sermons of Charles Spurgeon for the first time," says Girard. "I was reading through a sermon, and read the line 'Oh let our joy be unconfined, let us sing with freedom unrestrained.' This was a verbatim line that I had received from the Spirit when I wrote the verses of this song. You can imagine, it fairly blew me away."

Some Jesus Rock heavyweights participated on this song; Andrae Crouch's drummer Bill Maxwell played on it, and the 2nd Chapter of Acts sang on it. Another interesting note: Sometimes Alleluia was one of the few Jesus Music songs that mentioned the Holy Spirit baptism. It was covered by many other artists, as disparate as The Imperials, Danny Gaither, Dino, Sonlight Orchestra, Dave Boyer, and even Jimmy Swaggart. It's somewhat unusual for the last song on an LP to become the highlight of the album...but that's exactly what happened here. It seemed like the perfect place in the song order...Sometimes Alleluia just seemed to tie up the loose ends and put a fitting cap on what was a very impressive, memorable and anointed debut album. [When The Imperials recorded it a year later, they also put it at the end of their album.]

Reviewer and blogger David Lowman calls this record "legitimate, authentic pop music with a distinctly eternal message." Chuck Girard sold very well (by Jesus Music standards) and really gave Girard the identity he needed as a solo artist. He was no longer just "that guy from Love Song."

Chuck Girard released a handful of other albums throughout the remainder of the 1970s, none of them having the impact of his debut. At the end of the decade, things began to change for Girard and for the CCM "industry" as a whole. "My relationship with my label was a little bit rocky through the whole 10-year period," Chuck revealed in a 2006 interview with CrossRhythms. "At the end of the '70s/early '80s I was looking for another situation. It was a mutual thing. We mutually agreed to go our separate ways. I had another contract pending with Light Records. I went through this time of tremendous spiritual renewal and upheaval in my life in 1980. God dealt with some things that needed to be taken care of in my life. And as a result of that I began to examine a lot of my decisions, my direction in life."

In the end, Chuck asked to be let out of the deal with Light. "By my own decision I got out of the
industry," Chuck said. "I never really regretted it. I never really looked back. There were times where it's been very difficult because when you get out of the industry, first thing that happens is you have no visibility anymore. You don't have the money to take out ads and magazine covers and all that. So people think that you've dropped out of the scene. Well, that wasn't true but that's how people perceived it. Then you're making your own albums with your own money, which is extremely stressful. I just took all that on. It was very difficult to put your own albums especially in the day when I started because we didn't have the $10,000 home studios in those days. It was a huge financial burden and there was no real promotion, no ability to promote. No way to get it on the radio. So you shift a lot of things to do that. But again, I don't regret it. I'm happy that I made the decision that I did."

Many years later, Chuck publicly disclosed that he had actually lapsed back into alcoholism toward the end of the 1970s. He would sing his songs in churches and concert halls, then retire to drink alone in his hotel room. He eventually overcame that struggle in 1980.

Chuck told Crossrhythms, "After I became a Christian I was delivered from drugs. But I could justify alcohol with what I called the 'loophole Scriptures'. 'Take a little wine for your stomach' and all of that...Jesus drank wine, blah, blah, blah. You know? Some people can handle it. Well, I couldn't. So as much as I tried to rationalize it and justify it, I got back into addiction with alcohol. That continued to spiral through the '70s and by the end of the '70s I was in a really bad place. I really needed to be delivered again and the Lord did that in 1980. There was a time when the circumstances of my life came together in a crossroads. Marriage difficulties and a lot of other things that stressed out my life just came crashing down on me. It broke me. It was exactly what I needed and the Lord started to pick up the pieces from that day. It was just a time of new beginnings and tremendous trauma in my life but sometimes you have to go through those things to be restored and to be repaired. It literally was the beginning of the second phase of my life. A whole new way that I looked at my ministry and the future of my music and the whole thing. So it was almost, in some ways, as life-changing as my born again experience."

That personal revival that Chuck experienced greatly affected his music. "A couple of things happened that really turned the tide of my thinking and the whole way I viewed my ministry," Chuck shared. "I felt from the Lord, He said, 'If you're going to call yourself a Christian musician, why don't you see what I have to say about music?' So I did my first Bible study where I really concentrated and focused on music. Through that, I discovered that music was always about worship in the Bible. So that was the first thing. This kind of new awakening into, 'Whoa! Maybe this is the real reason we have music in general! It's about worship! And maybe one day that's all music will be about?' I started to put all this stuff together."

He continues: "Then the second thing was, it was the first time in my whole Christian experience that
I began to worship God in my private times. Well, in the process I discovered this whole area of spontaneous singing. Pretty soon I just started to express my heart in a very free way that kind of broke a barrier that I'd never experienced before. So I began to go deeper into the whole area of spontaneity."

Chuck began to write and record music with a bent toward the prophetic, as well as songs that took the listener before the throne of God in intimate worship. Chuck and especially his friend Terry Clark--who had both asked to be released from their contracts at the close of the 1970s--have spent the rest of their careers (for lack of a better term) pioneering deeper, authentic, intimate worship. For Terry Clark, who had been a member of the Chuck Girard Band as well as a label mate of Chuck's at Good News Records, this change in direction began with two powerfully anointed albums, Living Worship and Let's Worship, and continued on from there. For Chuck, this new paradigm was expressed through albums like The Name Above All Names and Fire And Light. Chuck later released two projects of free-flow, spontaneous worship (Voice of the Wind and Evening Shadows). Chuck broke new ground on these CDs, as they contain prophetic utterances and what Charismatic believers call The Song of the Lord (or "spiritual songs" as the Bible says). I firmly believe that there are no two men more gifted and anointed by God to speak and teach on the subject of intimate worship than Terry Clark and Chuck Girard. At one point, Chuck had a 4-CD Worship Seminar available for purchase, and I purchased the set when my brother brought Chuck back to our town for a concert in the early 2000s. I don't know if it's out of print...but that set of CDs should be required listening for every worship leader in America, and around the world.

My brother Tim (L), me (with back to camera, Dohn Bower (obscured).
Chuck Girard is sitting at the piano.
Living Praise Worship Center, Taylors, SC. Early 90s.

My mind goes back to the time in the 1990s when we were privileged to host Chuck Girard at my father's church. I remember like it was yesterday...we were sitting about halfway back in the sanctuary, discussing the state of Christian music at that time...Chuck, my brothers, our church's worship leader and me. Somehow the ol' tried and true "plumber analogy" came up in the conversation. You know what that is, right? Well, Chuck Girard had an answer for it - one that I agree with wholeheartedly. The 'plumber thing' must've been a sore spot with Chuck (as it has been with me) because I discovered an interview online during which he shared the exact same thing with journalist Bob Gerszten that he had shared with us some twenty years ago.

The Chuck Girard Band:
TopLR: Virgil Beckham, Chuck, Jay Truax
Bottom: Larry Myers, Terry Clark, Mark Walker
"Remember the old comparison about a Christian plumber?" Chuck asked. "'Does he have to go in and talk about Christ as he fixes your toilet?' Well, plumbing is not an occupation that expresses ideas and thoughts. Music is. And so I never bought that excuse where people would say 'I’m a Christian musician but I don’t have to talk about God in my lyrics anymore than a Christian plumber has to talk about God while he fixes your toilet.' The big difference is that all music espouses some sort of idea about a lifestyle. In general, art is a means by which we convey philosophy, and we convey thoughts, and we reflect life. So you can’t just compare a Christian musician to a Christian plumber in my opinion. The fact that you have this platform to express a philosophy or a thought about life, if you are a Christian, then I think there is a responsibility that goes along with that. Whether you wear the hat and say you're a minister or not, may not be that serious, but at least you have the responsibility to communicate something about your positive experience with Christ though your music, and through your art, and I think God will call you to account if you have that platform."

Over the years, in addition to his involvement with Love Song, Chuck has released ten solo albums, and has toured the US, Europe, and Australia several times. He has ministered in Indonesia, Africa, Mexico, Canada, and the Middle East.

Chuck Girard

Chuck Girard has been a pioneer twice in his career -- first as part of the ground floor of the Jesus Movement with his band mates in Love Song, and then in a new capacity...teaching the Body of Christ about the simplicity of genuine, authentic worship. Sometimes 'alleluia'...sometimes 'praise the Lord'...sometimes gently singing...our hearts in one accord.

Monday, May 16, 2016

#50 SO LONG AGO THE GARDEN by Larry Norman (1973)

SO LONG AGO THE GARDEN by Larry Norman (1973)
MGM Records - SE 4942

  • CloseStyle: MLA APA Chicago
  • lightning rod


    One that is a frequent target of criticism or focus of controversy -Merriam-Webster

    Well, he was certainly that.

    Oh, he was many other things, too: singer, poet, musician, philosopher, songwriter, producer, photographer, pioneer, revolutionary, Father of Gospel Rock, and much more…but Larry Norman was definitely a lightning rod for controversy.

    This is the first album of Larry’s to make this list. There will be many more, as his greatest creative output (by far) came in the 1970s. Yes, there will be many opportunities to applaud Norman’s legacy and laud his undeniable genius. But, alas, his life, career and ministry also require us to acknowledge accusations, misunderstandings, shortcomings, contradictions and controversies. So let’s just get that out of the way, shall we?

     So Long Ago the Garden was released in 1973 as the second album in Larry Norman’s much-heralded "trilogy" of projects (which began with 1972’s Only Visiting This Planet and concluded with In Another Land in 1976). So Long Ago the Garden was perhaps Larry Norman’s most controversial work. The criticism came on two fronts: the lyric content and the cover photo.

    The Larry Norman albums that preceded So Long Ago the Garden all contained songs that presented an overt Gospel message. The Outlaw was basically a 4-minute biography of Jesus Christ…there was I Wish We’d All Been Ready, which centered on the second coming of Jesus…while songs like Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation, One Way and Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus were musical tracts to a lost world. But So Long Ago the Garden raised questions and created controversy because here was a pretty dark album, Larry’s fifth by my count, which presented more veiled content. It had more of a “secular” feel and appeal to it.

    While most of his contemporaries were releasing records that just praised Jesus and invited others to do the same, Larry put on his Artist hat and took a more conceptual view. While Only Visiting This Planet was grounded in the present and In Another Land was looking to the future, So Long Ago the Garden examined the past and focused on the relationship between broken people and their heavenly Father. Instead of an overt evangelistic message, these songs explored the human condition and focused on sorrow, loneliness and broken relationships. Meanwhile, the songs that did contain a more overt spiritual message were surreal visions and/or nightmares with meanings that were clear, perhaps, only to Mr. Norman himself! That didn’t help.

    "These songs which examined The Fall were mostly written from the perspective of the scarred, and Larry’s public just could not take the idea of an artist taking on another persona to make a point,” explains British journalist Steve Turner. “To them he was a backslider who had broken with his wife and was seeking fame (with those ideas being taken from his songs)."

    Christian audiences in 1973 were unaccustomed to hearing songs written from the perspective of a fictional protagonist in order to present an over-arching theme and tell a story. As a result, rumors circulated that Larry had forsaken his faith in a quest for secular fame and fortune. Such was not the case, obviously.

    In 2016, at the time of this writing, all of the hand-wringing over lyrics and writing style back in the early 70s seems completely overwrought, if not tragic. Today, audiences are much more open and sophisticated.

     “Lyrically, So Long Ago the Garden is one of Norman's more elliptical efforts in terms of its Christian references,” admits music reviewer Jason Anderson. “However, the message is quite clear. Just underneath the '70s British rock dialect and shimmering songwriting is a defiant sermon that staunchly proclaims Norman's identity as a devout Christian outsider.”

     Well, it’s quite clear today; not so much in 1973.

     Years later, Larry Norman himself reflected on the controversy, revealing his personal fondness for So Long Ago the Garden: “It is my favorite album, and one of the most banned and misunderstood albums that I've recorded. Christians don't seem to be as aware of, or as sensitive to, the dire state of humanity as they are about the pleasant growth of their Christian walk. So Long Ago The Garden was as definitive a statement as I could make about the emptiness of our lives without Christ, just how lonely and wretched we truly are. It was all a very premeditated and carefully written album.”

     It should be noted that many people now suspect that all of this talk about art and themes and concepts and The Fall and the Human Condition, blah, blah, blah, was a bunch of hooey. Just more spin from Larry. Many people suspect that several of the songs on this album were actually based on real-life experiences and directly related to Norman’s marital difficulties (which were not known to the general public at the time). We report, you decide.

    The other controversy had to do with nudity.

    You read that right. Nudity.

    I’m guessing that Larry Norman is not on the short list of artists you’d like to see naked on an album cover. But that’s exactly what he was accused of.

    Due to the artistic photography and design used on the front cover of So Long Ago the Garden (or SLATG), some people insisted that the cover revealed a naked Larry Norman. They were just certain that his pubic hair was visible in the photo. This “shocking,” “provocative” album cover was taken as further proof that Norman had “fallen away from God.”

    In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast.”

    Could it be that the offensive “pubic hair” was nothing more than a patch of grass from a photo of a lion? Could it be that the blending of the two photos created a false impression that was entirely unintended?

    "The cover did feature a seminude Norman with a photo of a lion superimposed on his skin,” explains author John J. Thompson. “The symbolism -- an Old Testament prophecy referred to the Messiah as 'the lion of the tribe of Judah,' and C.S. Lewis' Narnia series made a Christ-like figure out of a lion named Aslan -- as well as the obvious insinuation of Adam in the Garden of Eden, flew over the heads of many people, who focused instead on a patch of grass that they thought was covering Larry's nether parts."

    Was Larry completely naked when the picture was snapped? Who knows? Who cares? It’s obvious, from the album title and the symbolism used on the back cover – an apple and snake skin boots – that Larry was standing in for Adam on the front cover. As such, it would’ve looked awful strange for him to have been wearing a jacket or T-shirt or, oh, I don’t know, a football jersey. To my eyes, a shirtless Larry was impersonating Adam on the front cover of SLATG and doing a darn fine job of it. As long as I don’t see genitals, I’m cool.

    The end result of the controversy was that many Christian bookstores refused to stock the album, and many of Larry’s concert dates were canceled.

    Larry Norman’s
    career was replete with such controversies. Some were misunderstandings by a legalistic and paranoid fan base, some are hear-say and may never be fully adjudicated, and some were most definitely of Larry’s own making. His stories about past career decisions and events were sometimes exaggerated or, one sometimes got the feeling, made up entirely. He constantly felt the need to link himself to well-known secular stars, again relating stories that were at the very least embellished. “Norman never crossed a bridge he didn’t seem to burn behind him,” Andrew Baeujon wrote in SPIN magazine. He seemed to have broken relationships with all of the Solid Rock artists he discovered and/or produced…sometimes because of personal issues, sometimes as a result of business disputes. I sat across the table from one of the artists who had been in Larry’s Solid Rock stable, saw the pain on his face, and watched tears leak from his eyes as he recounted the wrongs that he felt had been done to him. And this was some 4 or 5 years after Larry’s death. The wound still hadn’t healed.

    Larry with the old Solid Rock gang
    As you are probably aware, a “film maker” released a documentary on DVD several years ago, claiming to set the record straight and call Larry to account for all of his failings. The release date, coming so soon after Norman’s death, was at best unseemly. Production values were sub-par, but the film was at once fascinating and heartbreaking for any Norman fan. It reminded us at times of why we were so attracted to him in the first place and why we still love him so. But it also put meat and skin on the bones of accusation, innuendo and rumor. Numerous former protégés and colleagues were happy to go on the record accusing Norman of lies, paranoia and all sorts of financial treachery. He was accused of intentionally taking false credit for the “One Way” sign. He was charged with manipulating people and fabricating an aura and a mystique that was completely inauthentic. The fact that Larry Norman later married (and subsequently divorced) the first wife of his one-time best friend, Randy Stonehill (the subject of Randy’s classic Song for Sarah) was shocking to many. But the saddest revelation from the movie – one that as far as I can tell has been substantiated – is that Norman “had a baby out of wedlock” (the irony!) in the late 1980s and never adequately supported or even acknowledged the child.

    Randy Stonehill (L) with Larry Norman
    Now…the older we get, the more grace we seem to extend to pastors, teachers, politicians, artists, and everyone else around us. Because we become increasingly aware of our own propensity to sin and do evil. It’s a condition that’s been with us all of our lives. We were born that way. I have close personal acquaintances that have made a royal mess of things where their private lives and relationships are concerned. I’m sure you do, too. At age 30 I found myself a separated and soon-to-be divorced Christian radio DJ whose wife was working as a waitress at a strip club. [At least she told me she was just a waitress. I never visited the club to verify that.] My point is that we all live in a fallen world. Things get very messy. Relationships turn really ugly. None of us is above or beyond waking up one day and finding ourselves in what feels like a really bad Jerry Springer episode. Not me. Not you. And not even the Father of Christian Rock and Roll.

    The silver lining is that God’s gifts and callings are without repentance…His grace is truly amazing…and His mercies are new every morning. He tapped a young man by the name of Larry David Norman on the shoulder in the late 60s and gave him a job to do and the tools with which to get it done. In spite of whatever demons Larry wrestled with, in the end he was, at least on some level, true to his calling and faithful to point a lost and unbelieving world to their only hope of salvation.


    Ok, let’s say you’re Larry Norman in 1973. (Just go with it.) There’s really no “Christian Music Industry,” no Christian radio to speak of. You’ve already released what is generally regarded to be the first Christian rock album ever. You followed that up with 2 cult classics filled with amazing songs. You performed in front of up to 200,000 people at Explo ’72. You then released an album that would end up in the freakin’ Library of Congress as "the key work in the early history of Christian rock." What do you possibly do next?

    Why, So Long Ago the Garden, of course!

    Larry Norman
    entered AIR Studios in London, England on August 7, 1973 to make this record with The Triumvirate, a very capable British production team comprised of Rod Edwards, Roger Hand, and Jon Miller. By October 1st the sessions were complete and MGM Records was in possession of what reviewer Ken Scott says are “some of Larry’s most fascinating, enigmatic and personal songs.”

    Now, it should be stated that this album, like so many others in Larry’s discography, has been released and re-released, packaged and re-packaged, on multiple labels with multiple cover graphics, with different song orders and different bonus tracks. That’s typical of a Norman album. Standard operating procedure. For purposes of our discussion, I’ll be following the track order found on the 1973 MGM release SE 4942.

    According to Larry, he was somewhat victimized by the record company (wasn’t he always?). He charged that MGM forced him to drop several more Christian-oriented songs, including If God Is My Father, I Hope I'll See You In Heaven and one of several versions of Righteous Rocker, among others, in favor of songs that would be more palatable to a general market audience.

    “The record company, obviously, was more concerned with commerce than art,” Larry charged in a 1991 interview. “They wanted Fly, Fly, Fly and Christmastime on the album. These songs were B-Sides, recorded for singles. I was of the old school from where the Beatles had come, believing that singles should be recorded for single release and that albums should not contain the singles but be works of art, separate unto themselves. I tried to keep the polished ‘commercial’ singles separate from the artistic music made for the album, as I intended with I Love You during my days at Capitol Records. It was disappointing to me when the music was mixed together in the same format.”

    Good Lord…how would he react to life in the digital download era? I don’t imagine he’d be too keen on it. 

    SLATG opens with the poppy, upbeat Fly, Fly, Fly, a song about a man who is excitedly on his way to see his true love. Musically, the distinguishing features on this track are the electric piano performance and some gorgeous, reverb-drenched harmonies that Larry overdubbed on the song’s bridge. The protagonist in this song is looking forward, with a lot of love and some help from above, to spending eternity with his ‘baby’ in Heaven, ‘locked in each other’s arms.’ 

    Same Old Story
    presents a much more cynical view of love over a solid pop arrangement and musical performance. If you stop for a moment and put yourself back into the Jesus Movement milieu of 1973, I think audiences from that time can be forgiven for being a little confused, hearing Larry sing lines like these:

    Well it's the same old story and you know just how it's gonna end
    You're gonna wind up losing so there's no reason to pretend
    But you go through the motions and you tell her that you'll never part
    You say your love will last forever but you know she's gonna break your heart

    At a time when other Jesus Music artists were putting out songs like Jesus Is The Answer and Clean Before My Lord, Larry Norman was singing You're in love with the lady and you know she's gonna break your heart. Which isn’t wrong or evil, but is somewhat depressing and does stop short of offering hope through Jesus. We have the benefit in hindsight of knowing that he was playing a part, so to speak, and singing from the point of view of a fictional person (or was he?)…but you have to put yourself in that time period to truly appreciate how different this approach was from what was typically being offered by other Christian artists of the era.

    Larry was still trying to explain it as late as 1980: “I alternated songs. One song would talk about a man trying to find satisfaction and true love, and expecting a woman to somehow fill all of his needs and be his whole world. The next song would be about a man looking for something, and he doesn't know what it is. We know it's God, and he knows it's something like great universal love, but he can't find it, and it causes him Ecclesiastical despair.”

    This theme continued on Lonely By Myself, a song that began quietly with Larry’s perfectly measured falsetto, but gradually built into an epic, piano-based, power ballad. Larry reportedly saw the words Isn’t anybody out there? Doesn’t anybody care? spray-painted in the New York subway and was inspired…

    If I could find someone who really cared for me
    someone to share my love and keep me company
    If could find someone I'd let them take control
    and in exchange for love I'd give my very soul

    It's such a lonely life
    I almost cry each night
    cause faith has put me on the shelf
    I get so lonely, so lonely by myself

    If I could find someone who'd really love me right
    they'd make my life complete they'd make my soul shine bright
    I've looked around the world I've walked down every street
    still I can't find no one to give me what I need

    Resisting any temptation to resolve this crisis with easy answers, Larry instead ends the song asking Who can I turn to? Is there anybody there? Doesn't anybody care?

    “Despite the censorship problems which butchered the album, 'Garden' remains a beautiful record,” wrote reviewer Dougie Adam. “Ballads such as It's The Same Old Story and Lonely By Myself have well-crafted arrangements devised by Larry alongside George Martin and The Triumvirate production team.”

    Lonely By Myself
    was supposedly recorded using the same mellotron The Beatles used on Strawberry Fields Forever while Paul McCartney was in the next room recording Live and Let Die.

    Lyrically and musically, we turn a bit of a corner with Be Careful What You Sign, a rock and roll track that has been described as “wonderfully eerie.” The song recounts a really weird dream that Larry has said represents “a choice between God and Satan.”

    Reviewer Ken Scott described Be Careful What You Sign as “
    slow, swampy funk-blues” that grows “better and better with each listen.”

    Wrapping up Side One is Baroquen Spirits, another melodic song about a troubled romantic relationship. According to Norman, it was about “
    making a choice between your own integrity, or giving up your integrity for things like love – whatever momentary, ephemeral things that we look to for lasting happiness.”

    The album’s liner notes tell us that SLATG was
    recorded on a 24-track quadrophonic console built for George Martin and installed in Air Studios, London. Larry Norman played guitar, piano, arranged and co-produced the album, and sang most of the harmonies.

    Other details revealed in the “linear notes:”

    • Drummer
    Mike Giles quit the band King Crimson and joined a musicians’ union before signing on to play on SLATG. He played Ludwig and Hayman studio kits on the album.

    Malcolm Duncan and Roger Ball from Average White Band played saxophones.

    Dave Wintour played a Fender Precision Bass with Rotosound strings through a Traynor Bassmate amp while wearing new shoes.

    • Guitarist
    Mickey Keene played an Epiphone Crestwood with “super slinky strings” through a Supro amp with 12 inch speakers while wearing a Marks and Spencer t-shirt (Marks & Spencer is a major British retail clothing company).

    Graham Preskitt played violin but had to get a new one because his old one was stolen outside of Broadhurst Gardens the day before the session.

    Who but Larry Norman gives you that level of interesting detail? Ya gotta love it.

    Additional musicians include Randy Stonehill on guitar and background vocals, Bob Brady on piano; Rod Edwards on keyboards (including Wurlitzer electric piano and MiniMoog); Graham Smith on harmonica; Dave Markee on bass; and Roger Hand on percussion. The Hollywood Street Choir is credited with adding extra background vocals (most likely on Soul Survivor).

    George Martin
    recorded the album. Bill Price served as engineer, while Gareth Edwards was assistant engineer. The record was mixed by Tony Scotti and mastered by Tommy Vicari.

    Side Two opens with a real treat. From 1992 to 2007 I hosted and produced Rock of Ages, a Christian rock radio show on a 100,000-watt mainstream classic rock station in Greenville, SC. Every December, when the time rolled around to mix in a few Christmas songs on the show, I always chose Christmastime by Larry Norman as our official on-air start to the holiday season every year. It’s a rollicking rocker that uses humor to deliver a stinging blow to commercialism. Written by Norman, with some additional lyrics by Randy Stonehill, it was first
    recorded on Stonehill's Born Twice album in 1971. One reviewer noted that it has a certain “footloose, Rolling Stones swagger.” In the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, author Mark Allen Powell asks, “Who but Larry Norman would begin a Christmas song with the words, Santa Claus is comin’ and the kids are getting’ greedy?

    In his review of SLATG, Dougie Adam says the next song, She's A Dancer, demonstrates the same quality that marked George Martin's work with The Beatles on songs such as Yesterday, Michelle and For No One. “Larry's vocals fit the songs perfectly,” he writes, “and the combined effect of the songwriting, arrangements and performances is a strong one.” The strings on this track are mesmerizing.

    She's a dancer in the garden
    And she dances with the flowers
    In the early morning hours
    When the wind shifts
    And the fog drifts
    She's a dancer

    She's a dancer and she knows it
    Everywhere she goes she shows it
    Not pretending
    No regretting
    Nor forgetting
    She's a dancer

    And on my early morning walks I often find her
    I sit pretending that I'm looking at the paper

    It has been suggested that although the pronoun ‘she’ is used in the song, it’s really autobiographical for Larry, offering glimpses into a difficult period in his adolescence, growing up in the Bay Area and struggling with self-expression (since dancing was considered a “sissy thing” to pursue). Others have interpreted the song more broadly, taking it as a lamenting of the loneliness and separation brought about as a result of The Fall…resulting in the isolation that we all can sometimes experience.

    Up next is the gospel-flavored Soul Survivor, another song that in hindsight seems like an obvious description of challenges Norman was facing in his personal life:

    My life was good when she was hanging around
    My love was flying so high and free
    But when she left my dreams came tumbling down
    Now I’m the soul survivor of this tragedy

    I’m trying so hard to forget my pain
    And leave my past behind
    But when your life is suddenly filled with rain
    You keep remembering how the sun used to shine
    And I can't stand the loneliness, the constant emptiness
    Why has unhappiness come into my life
    I spend my mornings walking and thinking
    And cry my evenings late into the night

    I never knew that things could go so wrong
    Until this happened to me
    If you're in love you better hold on strong
    Or be the soul survivor of this tragedy

    I’m the soul survivor of this tragedy
    Oh yes I need somebody's sympathy
    Don't leave me here alone, don't let me be
    The soul survivor of this tragedy

     Well, praise the Lord!

    I’m sorry…I don’t mean to make light of it, it’s just that as I listen again to the album, all of this negativity is beginning to pile up and cause me to feel quite depressed. SLATG is definitely an album that serves up more questions than answers, that’s for sure. Author and historian John J. Thompson has written that this album “reflects on the nature of the human condition. The songs deal with characters knee-deep in the madness of life without God."

    SLATG saves the best for last. The record’s undisputed highlight is a song called Nightmare (AKA Nightmare No. 71 and Nightmare #71). It’s been called “the grooviest apocalyptic song ever written” and “a homage to Bob Dylan with mega-bizarre dream sequences.”

    It’s a blues-rock shuffle that is more spoken than sung and it’s filled to the brim with symbolism galore. A deep Google search will reveal what hidden meanings people ascribe to this song. I won’t go into all of that. I’ll just say that it’s an ingenious work of art that is at times fun, prophetic, funny, confusing, and frightening. It’s one of the key songs from the early 70s that established Larry as a serious prophetic voice to his generation.

    In the span of 6 minutes and 20 seconds, you’ll hear references to John Wayne, Billy Graham, Hollywood, the San Andreas Fault, tsunamis, Atlantis, Shirley Temple, Guy Kibbee, Bill Robinson, Harpo Marx, pollution, conservation, overpopulation, Helen Keller, Errol Flynn, Ronald Colman, birth control, space travel, abortion, swingers, violence, urban blight, substance abuse, J. Edgar Hoover, the JFK assassination, and Elmo Lincoln.

    It’s an amazing song, but as Nightmare fades away, I’m left with a troubled, unsettled feeling. Maybe that’s why this was always considered by most fans and critics to be the weakest album in Norman’s famed trilogy. It is, however, indispensable for any student, fan or collector of all things Norman.

    Once the SLATG sessions were in the can (a little record company lingo, there) the recording was submitted to MGM. The official story is that financial problems at MGM prevented the company from promoting the album. It didn’t get the push it deserved. Norman also felt that MGM was interfering artistically by dictating song choices, so he left the company and later started his own label, the iconic Solid Rock Records. It was just as well…not long after this decision, MGM Records folded due to financial difficulties.

    Larry Norman was an eccentric visionary whose mix of religious, political, and social themes helped spark a movement. He is perhaps the individual more responsible than any other for creating the “Christian rock music industry,” although to hear him tell it, that was never his intent. He would later be accused by those who knew him well of lying, cheating, infidelity, paranoia and even psychological disorders. The Church and the CCM industry kept him at arm’s length. But there is no denying the impact that he had. Time Magazine called him “the most significant artist in his field.” Over 300 cover versions of his songs have been recorded by both Christian and secular artists. He played the White House, Olympic Stadium in Moscow, The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, The Palladium, Royal Albert Hall, and lots of places in between. And he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

    Larry Norman
    died of heart failure on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008 in Salem, Oregon. He was 61 years old. 

    With a Norman release, one could always look forward to the album packaging. There were usually lots of photos, an interview, and what Larry called “linear notes.” I will close this post with some of those notes, penned by Larry himself, from the album So Long Ago the Garden. His was always a different take…a unique perspective that caused one to think…

    i have been here for a while, watching, thinking. it seems that the world is becoming increasingly more complex. we earn more money but the money becomes worth
    less. we discover new medical cures but the diseases develop new and more virulent strains which are immune to the medicines. we locate new sources of food yet millions of people starve while grain lies rotting in rat-infested storage houses.

    perhaps there was a time when life was easier and there was less non-essential information to contend with; a time when man lived simply and accurately. i don’t remember, and no one I speak to can remember. perhaps it was before our time; perhaps before people were so obsessed with time.

    today people synchronize their watches. they talk of time travel and light years. they talk of traveling at the speed of light to other galaxies. they boast that we have landed man on the moon when we have never even successfully landed man on earth. well, we did once, but then we killed Him.

    once we lived with houses built with our own hands and ate food grown in our own fields, and walked wherever we wanted when we traveled. but people decided they wanted a “better” life, so now we are a civilized people replete with the conveniences of technology. we now have industrial pollution and automobile exhaust (to breathe), factory waste (to drink), and pesticides and plastics (to eat).

    science has presumed to replace God, with chemistry our high priest, technology our bishop, and the atom bomb our pope. scientists say that soon our laboratories will create life. but to what end? society will do little to nurture it. governments do little to protect it. and business disregards it altogether.

    sometimes find myself wondering…did man evolve from the animals after all? or did man become an animal all by himself?

    i’m not a pessimist. i’ve just been thinking, that’s all.

    Fun Facts:

    • The song Nightmare #71 mentions silent film star Elmo Lincoln. Lincoln has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7042 Hollywood Boulevard. Norman's Solid Rock Records office was next door at 7046 Hollywood Boulevard.  

    • Larry shot the back cover photo in England. He says he could only find green apples, so fingernail polish was used to make the apple red.  

    • From the liner notes: “To be appreciated fully, this album must be listened to at a loud volume and the album must be looked at in bright sunlight to bring out the deep greens of the garden.