Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock (Book and CD)
This critically acclaimed book by Greg Thornbury comes with a companion CD of rare and previously unreleased tracks spanning Larry's entire career. This CD is not available anywhere else but here at the Solid Rock Shop.
"Norman’s role — and struggles — in the cultural landscape of the time is worth remembering. 'God gave me a gift,' Norman once said, in a line that any rocker might adopt, 'not to be popular, but to be invasive.'"
—New York Times Book Review
"You don't need to know anything about Larry Norman to be fascinated by the story of his high wire act as a Christian artist, ably told by Greg Thornbury. Open this book to be drawn in, pleasantly surprised, and uncomfortably challenged, just like a member of Norman's original audience."
—Peter Thiel, entrepreneur, investor, and author of Zero to One
“Much of the emotion and movement in American popular music derives from Christian, church-based traditions. Despite that, rock musicians who have made explicit their Christian beliefs have often been treated like objects of discomfort. Larry Norman went headlong into that strange situation to create something unprecedented. This book, beautifully written, gives us the first real look into a man who broke down walls so that others might build homes.”
—Warren Zanes, bestselling author of Petty: The Biography
"There's a lot in this Larry Norman book I was curious about; I was both happy and unhappy to have Larry Norman's earthly arc fully explained. How the hell did he survive all that? Way Harder Than Vaudeville would be a good alternate title. The world can be a pretty crummy place, but sometimes there are really nice people like Larry in it, somehow. If Norman was only visiting this planet, he did love it regardless.”
—Black Francis, songwriter and lead singer, Pixies
The riveting, untold story of the “Father of Christian Rock” and the conflicts that launched a billion-dollar industry at the dawn of America’s culture wars.
In 1969, in Capitol Records' Hollywood studio, a blonde-haired troubadour named Larry Norman laid track for an album that would launch a new genre of music and one of the strangest, most interesting careers in modern rock. Having spent the bulk of the 1960s playing on bills with acts like the Who, Janis Joplin, and the Doors, Norman decided that he wanted to sing about the most countercultural subject of all: Jesus.
Billboard called Norman “the most important songwriter since Paul Simon,” and his music would go on to inspire members of bands as diverse as U2, The Pixies, Guns ‘n Roses, and more. To a young generation of Christians who wanted a way to be different in the American cultural scene, Larry was a godsend—spinning songs about one’s eternal soul as deftly as he did ones critiquing consumerism, middle-class values, and the Vietnam War. To the religious establishment, however, he was a thorn in the side; and to secular music fans, he was an enigma, constantly offering up Jesus to problems they didn’t think were problems. Paul McCartney himself once told Larry, “You could be famous if you’d just drop the God stuff,” a statement that would foreshadow Norman’s ultimate demise.
In Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music?, Gregory Alan Thornbury draws on unparalleled access to Norman’s personal papers and archives to narrate the conflicts that defined the singer’s life, as he crisscrossed the developing fault lines between Evangelicals and mainstream American culture—friction that continues to this day. What emerges is a twisting, engrossing story about ambition, art, friendship, betrayal, and the turns one’s life can take when you believe God is on your side.