Jeff Raymond's Reviews > Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? by Gregory Alan Thornbury
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This is a biography of Larry Norman, one of the forefathers of modern contemporary Christian music. A genre I have basically no knowledge of, I was hoping for a lot more from this book both in terms of insight into the genre’s creation itself and of Norman, presented here as an important cog in the CCM machine. We basically get neither – the book assumes a lot of knowledge about CCM that may be clear to fans of the genre, as you get basically no context for the genre itself or where it’s at along the same lines of Norman’s growth/changes as a musician, and Norman himself, to this reader, is portrayed as more of an eccentric crank than a musician of import. It would be fine if the book was trying to present that point of view from the start, but the narrative instead comes across more as a bait-and-switch.

I hesitate to criticize a book for not being what I want the book to be, but I instead criticize this one for not being what it was presented as. It’s a missed opportunity, and I am interested in seeing another book that might better explain Norman and the modern history of the genre.
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Reading Progress

November 12, 2017 – Started Reading
November 12, 2017 – Shelved
November 12, 2017 – Shelved as: books-i-own-on-kindle
November 12, 2017 – Shelved as: arcs-manuscripts
November 12, 2017 – Shelved as: netgalley-edition
November 24, 2017 – Finished Reading
November 25, 2017 – Shelved as: read-biography-memoirs
November 25, 2017 – Shelved as: read-nonfiction
November 25, 2017 – Shelved as: read-music

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Phil Princey Thanks for your honest review Jeff. I hear your frustration. I think the book is written more for fans or the curious who have heard a bit about him. It met all my expectations and I loved it because I've been a big fan over the years and was waiting for his life story to come out.

If the book was more historically about the Christian rock movement or history of CCM with Larry Norman as it's biography, it would have missed the key ingredients, the criteria for any biography and why one would pick it up to read. Unlike the larger than life secular rock and roll stars and legends, Larry kind of fizzed out in the larger arena because of controversy and his rebel image in the Church. Why? What happened? What was his story? Because his music was trapped between the sacred and the secular (not what he wanted) it was bound to thwart his ultimate success even though he still held his hard core fans. This book enlightens the reader to how success alluded him because he made really bad business decisions and also burnt his bridges too often with friends, partners, and the Church etc. For this reason the book has a lot to deal with; a lot of questions to answer. If Elvis Presley became obscure in the history of rock and roll, serious rock and roll buffs would want to know why. So the author is writing for the 'insiders' who really want to understand what happened with Larry Norman and all the rumours that continue to this day among Christians of his vintage.

If you really want more of a historical account on the CCM I suggest you read about the Jesus Movement of the 1960s where it all began. There are YouTube documentaries and books and websites etc. Larry Norman will be mentioned but you'll be surprised there's a lot more to it.

I feel I should explain and justify the title of the book in answer to your complaint. It was because of the Jesus Movement that Larry was able to bring his music into the church. Not the other way round. It allowed him to write songs about Jesus in kind of a rebellious way (the Main Church would be uncomfortable or horrified with) that was still evangelical yet appealing to secular audiences or at least marketable, and not the 'middle of the road' typical churchy music, with religious overtones that for non Christians would be rather cloying. Thus it was a break through for christian music to have expression this way. Expression for the young Christian people in the Church being hounded by the established older Christians who probably burnt Elvis records in the 1950s along with rest of white America, those who supposedly upheld good Christian morals. Thus his songs like Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music was an anthem for the Christian youth to wave in front of the stale organ hymn playing Church to bring about a revolution along with the Jesus Moment.

Thus the title of the book which mislead you, conversely makes the book clear for the 'insider' as to what it will be about.

Hope that was helpful somewhat.

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