Sunday, March 02, 2008

Larry's Going Away Party

On 2008-03-01 05:42 PM, Dave Hollandsworth wrote on the Yahoo Jesus Music board,

"Someone (Greg from Portland) just sent me this... "

"What a gathering! Perhaps 500 (?) of us poured into a church in Salem, Oregon this morning to pay our respects to Larry. As we entered we were>handed 'circus programs' (instead of a boring pamphlet) that read:

"Larry Norman Presents: A Going Away Party."

We were also handed an "admit one" ticket, a sheet of paper on which we were to write notes to Larry's family, most notably any future grandchildren.

Also, depending on which door you entered by we were given an _Only Visiting this Planet_ (Inducted Into The Gospel [Music] Hall Of Fame 2001 version) or _In Another Land_ (30th Anniversary Edition) CD.

It was a gathering of friends, family and fans alike.

As people caught up with one another organ music filled the air. Then, all of a sudden...SCREEEEEEETCH! It was the sound of a record player needle ripping across vinyl. And then his voice that brought to mind these words he wrote:

"I ain't knocking the hymns,
Just give me a song that has a beat.
I ain't knocking the hymns,
Just give me a song that moves my feet."

The organ music was designed to be a "funeral march". So much so that I commented on it to a friend who attended the service with me.

The screech was followed by Larry's voice singing: "
I don't like none of those funeral marches
I ain't dead yet!"

What followed was a wonderful montage of music, photographs, and videos of Larry throughout his life. Friends and family spoke and there were a few performances. After it was all over we ate hot dogs, popcorn and Cracker Jacks and M&Ms. A party! Just like Larry wanted.

Thanks to Charles and Kristin for your efforts! I'm thinking of you.

There were few industry people there. I recognized Alex McDougal (drummer on Larry's 1979 tour) and Dan the keyboard player from his 1986 tour. Donnie and Michael Gossett from Salvation Air Force were also in attendance. I also saw one reporter.

Some of the most memorable moments for me were:

The Program cover
A pastor from Portsmouth who started his first speaking segment with a word given to him by the Lord: phenomenal. Larry was phenomenal because he served a phenomenal God. He also sang (he was the first to admit that he doesn't sing well) the first song he heard Larry Sing "Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation." he encouraged us to join him on the choruses.

An old school friend of Larry's, said that we live life as a dash. When you look at a gravestone you see the birth year and year of death separated by a dash. The years are not important, it's the dash that is important.
Larry had a great dash.

Kristin Norman (Charles' wife) and her musical partner in the Fjord Motor Company sang a few Norwegian folk songs that Larry enjoyed accompanied by a saw player and later Larry's brother, Charles Norman.

Larry's sisters, Nancy and Kristi sang a song that Larry wrote about a trip to the circus to end the tributes.

The pastor from Portsmouth closed the speaking moments off reminding us that we need to live our lives out loud.

After this, we got to do a karakoe (following a bouncing ball until the guitar solo) to "The Rock That Doesn't Roll". Everyone was singing, and a few tears were flowing as well.

The closing photo and video montage was amazing. "The Sun Began to Rain" was played over photos of a Larry up to about age five. The slightly older Larry was backed by one of Larry's rarities--can't recall the title.

Then "Looking for the footprints" backed late teens/late 1960s photos. Then the seventies and eighties and photos and video footage.

The photo that they left us with was one taken from behind Larry during a performance, from about where the drum kit should have been. It was black and white and all you could see was spotlight on Larry and Larry standing with his guitar. I suspect it was from the seventies but could have been any time early in his career.  See you there Larry.

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