This month's cover story is on Larry Norman. Because Larry Norman

 enthusiasts are completists, and because Larry himself is both interesting

 and thorough, VOG decided to make available the full text that, when

 compiled and edited, became the article that ran. It has been checked for

 spelling, but little else. Where there are (##) symbols, they represent a

 portion of the tape that was indeciperable.

 Verbal interview with Larry Norman immediately preceding his Opelika,

 Alabama concert on February 11, 1995 - conducted by Michael Cash and

 Steve Mason.

 

 

 VOG: What do you want to talk about?

 LN: Nothing. (laughter)

 VOG: Well, I wanna talk about some things. Let's start with what's going

 on with you as far as your health and this thing your raising money for. Is

 it a transplant or something?

 LN: No it's an inserted, called a defibrillator and they implant it and sew

 the wires into your heart and you have to have a battery someplace in your

 body that you have to change every three years. 

 VOG: Will that pretty much take care of the problem?

 LN: No, I won't feel any better, but I just won't die from sudden death

 syndrome. All it does is just shock you really hard if your heart stops or

 speeds up. It'll shock you and bring it back to a normal pace.

 VOG: So you had lost half of your heart muscle?

 LN: Well 40%, yeah.

 VOG: How many heart attacks are there?

 LN: Well, technically you don't have a heart attack unless you lose heart

 muscle, and I only had lost heart muscle at that first attack. I've been in

 the hospital thirteen times. One time I had congestive heart failure. That's

 not considered a heart attack, but it can kill you. I had Sudden Death

 Syndrome. That can kill you faster than a heart attack, but is not

 considered a heart attack 'cause you don't lose tissue.

 VOG: So that's why your heart just stops?

 LN: Well, or speeds up so fast, 'cause it's going to go into arrest where it

 just stops. It will stop if it doesn't, if it keeps going too fast it will stop.

 VOG: Well, I know that when I had called you, you were at the studio. So

 does that imply that you are getting some recordings done? I see you've

 got a new CD out there that says "Recorded 93-94." What's going on with

 the recording?

 LN: When did you call me?

 VOG: I've been calling you on and off for the last year and a half.

 LN: I was in the studio?

 VOG: Yes. I talked to someone at Charly's' apartment.

 LN: Oh, you're talking years ago. At least a couple of years ago.

 VOG: Yeah, a year and a half ago at least.

 LN: Oh. I think what they did was gave you another telephone number in the

 house. There's a room in there with some tape machines and I don't hear

 the other phone ring. So that's the studio. I was in the other part of the

 apartment.

 VOG: Were you working on an album?

 LN: Well, I'm trying to. It's real hard. What I basically do is deliberately

 try to put down on tape my voice and try to let other people do all that

 music. I don't really have the energy to really put in the hours and hours

 and months that it takes to make a good record. So, I just try to do a song

 every once in a while and have all the other people do all the work and me

 just sing. 

 VOG: So have you been producing other people?

 LN: I haven't produced for people for years. I got really disillusioned when

 they were talking about Jesus before the album, but then as soon as their

 career started, they stopped talking and started emphasizing that they'd

 be at the record table as soon as the concert was over. Wouldn't stay for

 the afterglow service and wouldn't pray with people. And I just finally got

 so disillusioned I quit producing people. If they aren't going to advance

 God's kingdom, I don't care to help them advance their kingdom.

 VOG: So because of your health, you've kept out of work in Europe as much

 as you have been.

 LN: I don't tour anymore. I can do a concert. Like tonight, I'm doing a

 concert here in Opelica. But I can't go on tour, that's not possible. Touring

 is when you do fifteen to thirty concerts in a row. I came here two days

 early to sleep. I've slept twelve to thirteen hours each day. Then I'm going

 to do a concert tonight, and I stay here two more days. It takes me five

 days now to do one concert. I don't do that many concerts. I'm just too

 tired.

 VOG: So what do you want to be on the record as saying about Mark Heard? 

 LN: I just miss him a lot. I worked so much with him. I stopped working

 with everybody on Solid Rock Records except Mark. I continued to work

 with Mark and did harmonies on his record whenever he wanted, and he

 helped me with most of my recording sessions. We were just really good

 friends After my heart attack, I got together with him and had dinner.

 Talking, I told him I put him in my will. He could have my guitars or

 whatever he wanted. I thought I was gonna die 'cause I had been so sick.

 And then he died, about a month, a month and a half later. I was just glad I

 got to tell him I loved him. I was saying goodbye to him because I thought I

 was leaving. I didn't know he was gonna leave first. 

 VOG: So you haven't really been in contact with the other people from

 Solid Rock, specifically Terry Taylor or Randy Stonehill?

 LN: I have seen Randy a few times, yeah. I'm in touch with Janet, Marks

 wife. 

 VOG: There are so many stories about Larry Norman ... and the fact that the

 records are not being sold in normal stores and the songs are not being

 played on the radio and the magazines doing stories about you instead of

 talking to you ... Are you interested in demystifying Larry Norman?

 LN: It's not a mystification process. It's that the magazines don't want to

 talk to me because they would rather publish information that they pretty

 much know is wrong instead of talking to me and getting a clear answer.

 So, I think recently, people, certain magazines keep saying I was never in

 a airplane accident and I didn't have a heart attack. I only heard about that.

 I never saw the article. I heard about that a few weeks ago. So, that's

 depressing. The lies keep going on, but it's willful. They want it that way.

 VOG: Is there anyway to verify the airplane accident? 

 LN: Yeah. The correspondents from the airlines. And the heart attack I had,

 all the medical records. I have X-rays, after the accident showing how my

 body was inside. My spine was the wrong direction and my neck was

 completely reversed. I don't think you can chase after people and beg them

 to please tell the truth. If they don't like you, they don't want to tell the

 truth. That's the whole point. It's their power and you're not. You're just a

 performer. They have something coming out every month. And no matter

 what you say to them, they can just have somebody else write up

 something else or they can continue writing it up. Usually they switch

 around so that it's not one person all the time writing something. Because

 you then you might be able to prove that he is trying to assassinate your

 character and you could sue him. It's just I live with it and they've been

 doing it for years about many things. So, I could write a book, if I _could

 write a book. If I was healthy enough to write a book, it would include all

 the correspondence from the airlines and the X-rays. But why write a book

 to say, "Hey your telling lies about me." I've always said that I don't care

 what people think about me, but I do care what they think about Jesus. And

 I don't care if it's people like me, I want them to love God.

 VOG: Did you get any compensation from the airlines?

 LN: I thought it was wrong to sue. I didn't realize.

 VOG: Did they offer?

 LN: No, of course not. They had a guy from their insurance company call me

 up and say "Well, your not hurt. Your not dead. You know, you're fine." The

 problem was I had brain damage from the accident so it was hard for me

 to reason my way through a lot of the conversations. And I kept saying, "I

 am hurt. Can't you tell me a doctor to go to?" I couldn't, I wasn't even

 resourceful enough to go to a doctor. I was just going to a chiropractor

 after a while. Unfortunately, because my brain was damaged I just kept

 thinking, well yeah, he's right, I'm not dead. So if I'm not dead, I'm okay.

 And besides, I'm a Christian and I think it's wrong to sue. I would never

 sue anybody cause that would look bad and make Jesus look bad. I couldn't

 even analyze that really you're not supposed to sue another Christian.

 That's what looks bad. And I also didn't know how many years I was going

 to have to have medical treatment, how expensive it's going to be. 

 VOG: And now the statute of limitations had run out?

 LN: Well, it's only a year. Statute of limitations is already here. So I think,

 if I could figure it out how much it would cost to pay all the doctors, I

 would have felt, my conscience would have been clearer to ask them for

 that much money. But I didn't know how much it was gonna cost over the

 next twelve years. Well, I shouldn't die though. I mean, at the time I felt

 like, "Well, the devil's trying to hurt a lot of people and I'm not living in

 China, so I'm not in prison for being a Christian, and I'm not being killed

 for my beliefs, so if I had this accident maybe I've just been baptized into

 the world of pain." You know, there's a lot of people with mental problems

 and because my body was so messed up I thought, "You know, a lot of

 people are crippled , too. You know, I can still walk. I'm in a lot of pain,

 but you know, praise God. Now I have a little more compassion for people

 whose health has suffered cause I'd always had a very strong body." I'd

 been sick with something like a cold constantly since I was little. A lot of

 the recordings I'm singing, you can hear I have a cold on the album. But I

 was never, my structural, you know, problems were never, I never broke

 legs or anything. It's all, I thought, well you know, this is good, I take this

 and count it all as joy. I felt in a way privileged to be in pain and not be

 dead. 

 LAUGHTER BY ALL

 I'd been hit in the head many times. I'd lost my sense of smell when I was

 little. My olfactory nerve was damaged, so I haven't been able to smell,

 ever. But that's nice cause when you're street witnessing (laughter) you

 put your arm around somebody and pray with them and are in no way

 offended by what they smell like. (laughter) I count it all as joy because,

 you know, we're supposed to rejoice in everything. God's the redeemer.

 He'll take all the bad stuff and turn it into something good. 

 VOG: You used numbers extensively on your albums. I was wondering if you

 could give an example of what your symbolizing. Just a brief synopsis for

 each of the numbers. 

 LN: There's a lot of this stuff, easy to figure out. W N A W L ...

 VOG: Oh, I got that.

 LN: What's that?

 VOG: Oh, that's your album titles.

 LN: Right. For how many songs are on each album. But I mean symbolism.

 VOG: Well, you seem to have why the first album, like you did the first

 album, what was the one ## . So I figure, you've got a reoccurring number

 your trying to use in a constant sound.

 LN: Well, only if the numbers that God uses in the Bible, I don't have my

 own numbers.

 VOG: What about the numbers on the album itself? Like on _Streams of

 White Light_ , It's AB777. 

 LN: Those aren't significant in any mystical way. Just numbers to help me

 remember what's on there.

 VOG: But you picked them instead of having a company assign them?

 LN: Yeah. What company though?

 (Laughter)

 VOG: Oh Yeah. And now those cryptic subtle letters at the end?

 LN: Well that's my sons name. G I O Y. What is that?

 VOG: I love you.

 LN: Yeah. MDF and that's my sons name. Michael David Fariah.

 VOG: Okay great. Okay, One mystery found.

 (Laughter)

 Well, is Fehrion a real person or is that symbolic of something or

 someone? 

 LN: You want to know where it is?

 VOG: Well, I know, Yeah. What is the answer to this mystery?

 LN: It's a mystery. (laughter) I know what it means. 

 VOG: Does it represent a human being? Is it a symbol?

 LN: It could be a place. Wherever you are. Like the new Jerusalem, where

 you are.

 VOG: Yeah, but you said, "to Fehrion, where ever you are."

 LN: Yeah. "To the new Jerusalem, where ever you are." Well, that's the way

 you interpret it, see? That's what symbols are for. For interpretation. 

 VOG: You know when you go out on these numbers on (##) side one's a

 period of seven or eight and nine and twelve hours. Are you great at

 numbers or is this just as hard for you to figure out as it is for us?

 LN: I know what it all means. (laughter) Just, people used to be obsessed

 with, they pick up these numbers that were in different places, so I

 thought, Okay, I'll explain every, I'll just put it all down. But no, (laughing)

 I had brain damage at the time. So, I thought that was perfectly clear by

 everybody. I didn't realize it made it more of a mystery.

 (laughter)

 VOG: "Twelve divided by 174 plus 12 plus 13 plus 14."

 LN: Yeah. Well, 12 albums. There's 174 songs on 12 albums. That equals 12

 albums. 156 songs on 12 albums and 174 equals 12 albums, plus 13 plus

 14.

 VOG: Albums 13 and 14?

 LN: Yeah. Well, also 156: 1+5+6=12. 1+7+4=12. I told you I had brain

 damage?

 (laughter)

 VOG: I just need the words.

 LN: It made complete sense to me. During this time I'd figured out a whole

 system for music, too. Relational chords, what are strong cords and what

 are, I can't even remember now. But at the time I started writing a whole

 bunch of songs based on how chords are related to each other in certain

 sequence. And it was so much better to play the piano and just feel all

 these... It's not like I was crazy. It's like I had, see, I've never been good at

 math. After the airplane accident, I would add up things faster than people

 could do it with a calculator. Like after a concert. I was in Holland, one of

 my friends, Frank (Fraunk), was trying to add up how many records we'd

 sold and how much that came up to in Dutch gilders. So he was tapping

 away on the calculator and I said, I kept telling him the answers. But I'm

 not good at math. But I sure was good during those years. Now I'm back to

 normal, you know. Numbers are not something I'm interested in. (Laughter)

 VOG: You want to talk to me about the experience that you told me when

 you were healed?

 LN: No. You know. Nobody cares and nobody believes me anyway. They just

 think I'm trying to be special. I'm trying to make myself special. These

 people don't believe in healing, so, you know?

 VOG: I do. I've been healed.

 LN: Well, I've already told you personally, so you know.

 VOG: So you don't want it in the article?

 LN: No. Because if people think because they write it in a certain

 magazine, that I never was in a airplane accident then they'll think that

 me saying that I was healed is just another lie. So I would rather just let

 them all of them think that I'm lying based on what I've already said

 rather than to tell what's really happened in my life. And then just have

 them say, "Okay, now that's another lie." I'd just rather them think,

 "Larry's just sick, and a liar, and he's a psychotic," or whatever they want

 to think. I'm sick of people so much. Now I have something that's just

 mine. My heart attack. It belongs to me. 

 VOG: There are so many things that are way out there, like you stealing

 Stonehill's wife and suing your mother.

 LN: Now, why would I sue my mother?

 VOG: I don't know.

 LN: Yeah and I got poisoned in Russia. Charlie got poisoned, too. Nobody

 believes that.

 VOG: Didn't I read that you had sold out the Moscow Stadium five nights in

 a row?

 LN: I don't think it says I sold it out. I did five appearances at this big

 stadium. And the place that we sold out was the Kiev Hall, and I did four

 concerts there. We sold out. 

 VOG: Was that before or after the accident?

 LN: Oh, that was after. That was the cleanest city I've ever been in

 because the people sweep the streets constantly. You know, probably, I'm

 the only popular contemporary singer in some countries because my music

 was translated in those countries before they ever knew me. My music

 went all over the world and it wasn't because of a publisher, wasn't

 because of a record company. It was because of (##), because I just, I saw

 what AI wish what(##) already had its power. I never said "Yes, I agree to

 have these twelve nations translate my songs." So when I got over to some

 of these countries just to look around, people found that I wrote all these

 songs. If they responded to me in a certain way, thinking that I was this

 great man, it wasn't because I'd told them. I don't have a publicist and a

 record company and a manager and a booking agent and everything that

 most people have to push their career along. I've never pushed my career.

 People think I'm lazy. No. I just believe in God. I believe that what the

 Bible says is that promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the

 west, nor the south. It's from God, who is in Heaven. He lifts up one man

 and puts down another. So I've always thought, that's what I want out of

 my life. I want to know that I am someplace because God brought me there.

 Not because I pushed there or, I manipulated. I had the right photographs,

 the right haircut, the right clothes, and I suck up to the radio stations by

 putting out mediocre music that would get a lot of air play so that I would

 have mass visibility. I don't want to live my life that way. I want to live

 my life strictly for Christ. I want to sing the songs that I think are gonna

 help people, not encourage them, help them revolutionize their life. And

 When I'm dead I don't care if all the Christian magazine editors come and

 spit on my grave. I'd be proud. I've served my life for Christ. I didn't serve

 it for money and I didn't serve it for the music industry. I think the music

 industry's corrupt. And because I say so constantly and I've been saying

 since 1974-75. Of course I'm not gonna get good record reviews and nice

 write-ups. Because I think that they are evil. What they're doing is wrong.

 Somebody's gonna read your interview and say Larry is really a bad person.

 He's criticizing other Christians. No, I'm not criticizing anybody

 specifically. I'm just saying, those that do evil are evil. But they can be

 redeemed. I also don't believe they're going into perdition because of the

 evil they do because God's a redeemer and He's the savior. So some of

 these people, I've seen a lot of people who are very bad people become true

 Christians. I've even seen true Christians do that, people who are

 Christians for years, but their not really dedicated. They do a lot of evil.

 They sleep around a lot, they get people pregnant, they get a lot of

 abortions, they take drugs, they drink, they do all kinds of stuff. I think it

 was very sad the way Mike Warnke was treated. Because I still believe

 that Christ is more powerful than all the sins that Mike may have

 committed. Cause Christ can redeem that void, and bring to a complete

 salvation. And then maybe if Christians had been more, you know ...

 Supposedly, so many Christians knew about his life for years. Well, if they

 had done what they're supposed to do, maybe Mike would be in a lot better

 shape.

 VOG: So you don't think Cornerstone should have done the articles at all?

 LN: I don't think that the way he was treated was correct. I don't know if

 they thought they had to protect the American public from faith(##) ,

 okay. I don't know if they had to protect everybody from him by exposing

 him. Or that they had talked to him and couldn't get him to admit it. Why

 didn't they take him to therapy, force him to go to therapy, you know? Just

 because someone doesn't admit it to you, they could be in denial and maybe

 through by going away for forty-five days into therapy they could come to

 grips with reality, through confrontation. Maybe Christians don't believe

 in psychology, believe in therapy, believe in counseling. Maybe they just

 believe in, "Well I talked to him and I didn't like his answers, so I'm gonna

 murder him. I'm gonna destroy him." Ya know. If I do interviews with a

 Christian magazine and don't trust them, like I don't trust a certain

 magazine, a music magazine. At times when I've asked, and I said okay, I

 will do one more interview with you, but I will only do it if I get this

 reporter, cause I trust this person. But another person shows up and then

 the record companies pushing me, "You said you were gonna do this

 interview." You know, you've gotta do this interview. But, ##Dave lied to

 me. This is not the person I want to talk to. I know this person. I know

 what his motives are. I know who his friends are. I know that he's a nasty

 person. He's attacked other people. I know he wants to hurt me. But I,

 sometimes I thought, well, I don't want to, I'm a person who doesn't want

 to cause problems. I don't want to make people think I'm uncooperative so

 I'll do it and I'll just hope that it'll turn out right. And then it doesn't turn

 out right. I think that was why Christ was so deliberate with people He

 knew weren't asking Him an innocent question. But if they tried to sound

 like it He would say, "You generation of vipers (##)" and so I've gone back

 to being uncooperative. I want to be the person I used to be . But people

 say that was really a mean person, well I'm just gonna be nice to them

 non-believers and stay strict and strong with the believers of the music

 industry. Cause they're definitely in it for the money. They're definitely

 not in it for the gospel. If they were in it for the gospel, you'd see more of

 the gospel in their work, in their businesses, and you'd see us (##) money.

 We'd be giving money away. I'd like to know how many of those companies,

 what is their contribution to charity? I'd like to know. I'm not going to ask

 them cause I don't care, but, you know. I'd like to be asked the same

 questions I like to ask other people.

 VOG: Right.

 LN: People, the only reason Mark and I remained so close is people are

 constantly talking bad and keep a lot of stress on him. I had a stress heart

 attack. I wouldn't be surprised if Mark died because of all the stress on

 his life, too. People thought he was more uncooperative than I was. He

 would go to a Christian festival and he'd speak truth and peopled get mad

 right there on the spot and hate him. The kids would just think, "Who is

 this guy and what is he saying? I don't want to hear it." And then the

 sponsored say your never coming back here. God bless Mark for trying(##).

 Somebody needs to tell the truth. It's the only (##) in society right now.

 The Christian society is like the last days of the Roman empire. We are

 following society. People like Chuck Colson are trying to draw to peoples

 attention - Get Your Life Together. Get straight, not just because Christ

 might be returning any minute, but because you should do it. Stop being so

 selfish and greedy. Start helping the poor, start reaching out, go and visit

 people in the prisons. Well, when are you gonna do that? Probably never.

 Unless a tyrant comes over to our country. Maybe we'll be as loving as the

 Chinese and the Russians when they certainly acted like Christians. Maybe

 people only come to their best selves when they are under persecution and

 hatred.

 

 

 

 Following are selections from Larry Norman's impromptu between-song

 monologues during the February 11, 1995 show. They do not represent

 everything that he said from the stage.

 

 I'm kinda tired tonight, so I hope you guys are too.

 You know one sound that's gotta be cooler than feedback? One sound that's

 way cooler than feedback ... I don't know what it is, but some nights, when

 it's real dark, someplace is gonna erupt. It's gonna be a lot of noise and a

 lot of lights. People are gonna look up.

 

 Never thought we'd have to pay for water. I mean, God gave it to us for

 free. We redesigned it with industrial solvents and this and that. Now

 _this, they've done something to this I guess ... It says "natural water."

 It's got a lot of stuff in it. It's got some bicarbonates in it. (shakes bottle)

 It's totally flat. It's got 357 of those. It's got 78 Calciums. 24

 magnesiums and some Silica. What is that? You know, this costs like a

 buck fifty or something. Probably 'cause of all the stuff that's in it.,

 although it _is natural. This here happens to be a brand called Evian, which

 if you spell it backwards, spells Naive. 

 

 I used to go to a very small church when I was young. I remember sitting

 there in the _pew. I remember trying to get comfortable, my legs coming

 just to the end of it and I couldn't reach the back of it. As soon as I would

 scoot my legs, my Mom would say, "Would you sit back and stop

 fidgeting?" I'd sit all the way back and my legs would go straight out and

 I'd end up with thread marks on the backs of my calves.

 We had a pastor who was a real nice man who always got so bad ... He'd

 start out talking real nice at the beginning of the sermon but by the end of

 it he'd be yelling and waving and pumping in the air! (Larry is now

 screaming) Thought my Mom must've told him what I'd been doing. 

 We had a choir that sang songs. We had a piano that came out and somebody

 sang solos. He'd be angry too. He was kind of a short man. (Larry's arms are

 all the way out to his sides.) He had black hair greased straight back. He'd

 come out and he was always upset. I don't know what he was upset about,

 maybe his hair. He'd come out and sing this beautiful song, but then you'd

 have a different feeling that wasn't so beautiful. It was like, "He's got the

 whole world in hiiiiis haaaaaaaands." (Larry descends to an ominous note.)

 It scared me so bad. 

 We would sing sometimes too. We'd sing three songs every Sunday. You'd

 come in and sit down and then you'd stand up. You'd sing a song and they'd

 tell you to sit down. And then you'd all stand up because they'd tell you to

 stand up. Pray, sit down, and then sing another song. Then you'd stand up

 again and sing another song. I know they always did that: first you'd stand

 up and sing, then sit down and sing, then stand up and sing. I remember

 that because it's hard enough to sing these songs because they're all in the

 wrong key for me and the words were so long I could hardly get enough air

 to sing the notes. But then the words would be way long, like sometimes

 they would end a verse like, "and salvaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaaa-aaa-aaaa-tion."

 You could just say it faster than that: salvation. So I'd be hyperventilating.

 I'd be dizzy by the third song. I remember that because they'd say, "Let's

 all close our eyes and put our heads down." I'd put my head down. (Hold

 hands out to his sides and totters.) Then one Sunday I opened my eyes to

 keep from falling down and I saw these things there - these things right in

 front. Wooden things with three little holes in them and I thought, "That's

 probably what they're there for, to hold on to." 

 Then I found out there was another church in the same building, children's

 church, so my Mom made me go down there, and that was completely

 different, 'cause like the preacher was a woman and she was in a good

 mood all the time about nothin'. Oh I guess for about 45 minutes we'd just

 ... eat clay. Throw blocks. And then the preacher woman would say, (claps)

 "All right boys and girls, time to get our chairs in a semi-circle for some

 Bible stories." We drag our chairs over in the corner and sit down and

 she'd tell us some Bible stories, but she thought we weren't very smart so

 she thought we couldn't understand the Bible. So she wouldn't read from

 the Bible, she'd read from this book. She thought we couldn't understand

 the book, even though it had big baby words in it. 

 So then she tried to illustrate every story with something like a

 flannelboard, flannel graph. It's like a big piece of cardboard with

 somebody's pajamas wrapped around it. She'd tell us stories up on the

 flannelboard and we were supposed to be able to look at it and tell what

 was going on. Like she'd say, "One day the shepard was out in the field,

 watching his little sheep." (Mimes using the flannel board.) And we'd look

 at the shepard standing in the middle of this drawing looking at his sheep,

 looking like this. (Poses with hands and head skyward.) 

 "And one day the shepard noticed that one of his little sheep was missing.

 So he went to look for it." (Scoots along in said pose.) Looked to me like he

 was looking at those cotton balls the teacher stuck up for clouds. 

 "He noticed the little sheep on the edge of a cliff. So he put it underneath

 his arm and went back to the field." (Scoots back.) Man, he didn't see that

 sheep. And he didn't pick it up. The teacher picked it up. Couldn't even get

 it underneath his arm because he didn't have a little slot. So she stuck it

 on his shoulder. 

 Sometimes the babies would cry in the nursery. We all liked it when that'd

 happen. Because if they cried long enough or loud enough, she'd leave for a

 couple of seconds. "I'll be right back." And we'd tell our own stories: One

 day this shepard was out in a field. Standing on his head. And all the little

 sheep came up and bit him in the nose. The teacher would come back and

 put everything back. She never even noticed that part of the shepard's nose

 was missing. So I started writing songs back when I was seven and that's

 where I got my ideas, from Sunday school.

 

 I lived in a black neighborhood, and I was the only white child until my

 sister was born. She wasn't much help in fights. 

 I remember this one kid - he just knew so much stuff. I used to be amazed

 at all he knew. He'd been to the beach. I'd never been to the beach. Probably

 my parents didn't take me because I sunburn so easily. Well actually I

 don't sunburn, I stroke. 

 So he was telling me about the beach. He'd say, "You ever been to the

 beach, no? You go down there, 'bout twenty-eleven blocks. You turn left.

 You see some water and that's the beach. I been there and I had a lot of

 fun. You never been there. I was." He just always knew so much stuff. 

 We lived in San Francisco where there was seven hills. We lived in a place

 where you could see a couple of them. he'd say, "You see that hill over

 there? You see them big houses? Well that's where the Jews live. In those

 big houses. And I thought, "Oh, good. Their loan came through."

 

 To me the world was this wonderful place. I thought getting beat up was

 just normal. I didn't take it personally. People just beat you up for no

 reason. You just happened to be there when a fight broke out over you. So I

 had a happy childhood at that time. I loved being a Christian. I knew that

 Jesus had a real love for kids. 

 

 Three Years ago I had really bad chest pains so I went to the hospital.

 Well, first of all I called my doctor and said, "I'm in terrible pain." And he

 said, "Well, I think it's just indigestion." And I said, "No, my heart is in

 severe pain ..." except I was screaming it. So the receptionist was very

 upset so I gave the phone to my brother and said, "You talk to them." And

 I'm in the background going, "Aaaaah!" for about nine hours. 

 I called him five times. First phonecall, he said, "Well, it's just

 indigestion." Second phonecall, he gave a prescription for the pharmacy

 and my brother went and got the medicine. I called him back after the

 second phone call because I felt a little strange after I took the medicine

 and I raced for the bathroom right before I did it. So I called him back

 again and said, "Well I didn't keep it down, but can I take it again or am I

 gonna overdose?" 

 He said, "Well, how long have you had it in your stomach?" 

 "Three or four seconds." 

 He said, "well I think you can take it again. You're alright." 

 So I took it again and I called him back and my brother talked to him:

 "Yeah, he did it again. He can't keep anything down." So the fourth time we

 called him he said, "Tell Larry to be a man and bite the bullet." So I just

 called my parents and said, "Would you please pray for me? I'm just in so

 much pain." My parents prayed for me, my friends prayed for me. 

 After the fourth phonecall, when I couldn't find a bullet to bite, I called

 this chiropractor friend of mine and asked him to come see if it was

 muscular pain. He said he was in a meeting but there was somebody nearby

 that was a friend of his, so we ran off to this guy, about four to five and a

 half hours later. I was trying to be patient because I really respect my

 doctor - I've always trusted him. And I thought, "This is some severe

 ingestion."

 So I was at the chiropractors and said, can you tell me if I somehow pulled

 a muscle? And he said, "You need to go to the hospital right now." Because

 I probably wasn't showing all this patience by screaming. So I went to a

 pay phone and called my doctor. He said, "I told you, there is nothing wrong

 with you." And I gave the phone to my brother and he said, "The is

 something wrong with him. We want to go to the hospital. We've been

 waiting all day to go to the hospital. We just want you to tell us what

 hospital to go to."

 'Cause I'm naive about a lot of things. I knew they had baby hospitals, so I

 just thought they had hospitals for different things, like heart hospitals.

 So he told me this hospital to go to. 

 If you ever have chest pain, you're supposed to go to a hospital. They're

 supposed to let you in immediately. They're supposed to give you a

 cardiogram. They're supposed to give you a shot of something that takes

 away the pain. These are very normal procedures if you ever have chest

 pain - go to the hospital and trust them. 

 So I went to the hospital. The lady told me to sit down in the waiting

 room. So I waited for 45 minutes, screaming. I was very embarrassed

 because there was only one seat left. It was right in front of the

 television. So I was screaming my way through a soap opera, just hoping

 that somebody else would go get attention so I could take their chair in

 the back. I didn't want to go outside, in case they called my name, I might

 not be able to hear it above the screams. So finally they sent someone,

 "Okay you can come in." "Praise God, somebody's gonna see me now." 

 So they put me in a room. I said, "Are you the person that's gonna see

 me?" "No they'll be with you in a minute." 

 Somebody came in an hour later and said, "Mr. Norman?" looking at the

 chart.I said, "YES!" "Would you please stop yelling? You're disturbing a lot

 of people." "SORRY!" 

 About three or four people came after that and asked me, "Do you take

 heroin?" "NO!" "Do you do cocaine?" "NO!" "What's your name?" I told

 them my name and two pages of other information. Then somebody else

 would come back and ask the same questions. "You think I'm a drug addict

 and you think this is drug-related. You have no sympathy for me because I

 have long hair and you think I'm an addict." So after the third person came

 and asked me the same questions, I said, "How come you're asking me the

 same questions? Can't you guys just photocopy the answers and pass them

 around?" They said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I don't work here." "Well you're asking

 me all these questions." "Oh, I know. There's a bunch of us here. We're just

 students. We're learning how to ask questions." 

 So finally someone came, and they said, "Okay, Mr. Norman?" I said,

 "Yes?" "I have told you to stop yelling. I may have to move you to another

 room." They moved me farther away and this time they closed the door. I

 don't know how long went by because I wasn't awake through all of it. I

 was in a coma. But they came in at some point and decided it was _severe

 ingestion. 

 First of all, I felt somebody shaking me. And then I heard a voice say (low

 and slow) "Mr. Norman," so I climbed up out of this dark deep hole and I

 started to see light and I opened my eyes and it was a nurse. She turned to

 the doctor and she said (low and slow), "He wasn't even conscious and he

 was still screaming." So they took me out of that room and they put me up

 to a machine and then about two minutes later a doctor came up and said,

 "You had a major heart attack." (weakly) "Oh, praise God. I thought I had

 indigestion." 

 'Cause I was thinkin', "Well, I know they can fix heart attacks sometimes,

 but can you get a Tums that's that big?" So they took me upstairs and I

 had lost a quarter percent of my heart. Shut down. And they did an

 angioplasty with this long wire. They said they were gonna take a look at

 my heart and they cut my leg open. And I thought, "These guys are bad!"

 And they put this wire in my leg and they started poking around with a TV

 camera. 

 I wasn't aware, because during that time, I found out the next day, I had

 died and they thought they couldn't get me back. But they were able to beat

 me back to life. And I woke up in the intensive care unit. I remember a

 couple of times being conscious on the way down to the intensive care

 unit, because the guy that was pushing the trolley that I was on crashed

 my foot into the wall a couple of times. That brought me around a little

 bit. 

 You know, I've always heard that when you die you're supposed to wake up

 in this dark place and see a light at the end of a tunnel. And you're

 relatives are telling you, "Come over here." so you don't get lost. That

 didn't happen to me. I wasn't conscious of anything. But then I started

 thinking about that, you know, and I just wanna say if you ever have some

 serious chest pain and you wake up in a dark place and you see a tunnel

 with light at the end and you start walking down this tunnel and you start

 seeing a bunch of your relatives and you're not sure if you believe it or not

 and they say (low and slow) "Come on over here," don't go. 

 So the next day my parents were there and they said, "I've just spoken to

 your doctor, and he's very angry with you." I said, "Why?" "Because he told

 you for hours and hours yesterday to go to the hospital and you refused.

 That's why you had this heart attack." I was just shocked. I told my mom,

 "That's not true. That's a lie. Ask Charly. He talked to him every time I

 talked to him. And I told him after every time what the doctor said. That

 is not true." 

 I didn't tell the doctor that because he kept coming in every day, "So

 how're ya doin'?" He'd listen to my heart. He's real fast. He probably heard

 half a beat. I didn't tell him, "Doctor, I know you're lying. Why are you

 lying?" I didn't wanna say that because I thought, "I'm in the hospital. I'm

 gonna be here for weeks. I'm strapped down. I just don't want the doctor

 coming back at night dressed up like a nurse." (Mimes a stabbing.) 

 I was just patient and I was fine. I was very disappointed though. I can't

 understand why my doctor would lie. I'd been going to him for years and I

 though he was such a good doctor. He'd been trying to treat me for, what

 do you call that? You get real hot ... and I was sick for a year and a half.

 I'm not joking, I can't remember what you call it. It's something like

 malaria ... You can't breathe ... Pneumonia. I thought I had pneumonia. He

 examined me, he X-rayed me. he gave me antibiotic pills. And I found out

 later I was having congestive heart failure - where your heart is beating

 very poorly and it can't express the water from the blood so it just starts

 gaining water and you're drowning. 

 I found that out because I had the same symptoms later. He checked me out

 of the hospital and gave me about ten different pills and I collapsed in a

 different city. They took me to the hospital and said, "You're having

 congestive heart failure. Why are you taking these pills?" And I said,

 "Because my doctor told me to." And they said, "Well, that's making your

 heart beat very slow. Your heart is losing it's mass. It's becoming very

 soft." So they took me off that pill and it was gone. 

 Well, I started thinking about that doctor, talking to other doctors, and I

 thought that I didn't need to have that heart attack. I didn't have congested

 arteries. I didn't have blockage. I didn't have anything. All I had was stress

 that caused a blood clot to form - it can make you blood thicken like that.

 So if they had given me aspirin, it would've made my blood thinner and I

 wouldn't have had that heart attack. I wouldn't have lost 40% of my heart

 muscle. 

 So I'm doing concerts now because I need to raise money for a

 defibrillator. I have developed this thing called Sudden Death Syndrome. My

 heart can go very very fast or it can stop. I can't move when I have this

 thing happen. It's happened twice and I was near a hospital when it did.

 They've got me on pills for it right now.

 

 When I was growing up, I just sang to people at my school. They didn't

 wanna go to church, so I figured I'd bring the church to them. When I turned

 18, Capitol Records came and offered me a contract. I hadn't sent them a

 demo tape. I don't know how they knew ... decided that I should make an

 album. I didn't know what to do. I signed this contract. My parents had to

 sign it for me - I wasn't old enough. 

 I didn't know what to sing though. Who are these people I'm singing for?

 I'd always known the people I was singing for in the past. People at

 school, people in town ... Who are all these people I've never met before?

 What can I say to them? I'd been a Christian since I was five. All of my

 anger was within my Christian experience. 

 I didn't come to Christ and then become ... like some of you, I was just so

 happy about life, I'd seen a different side of Christ than some people see.

 I've seen a socially concerned Christ. I grew up in a terrible kind of life

 and I think that's the only Christ I could've seen. That's the kind of Christ

 that rescued me. He also died for nice middle-American people who didn't

 carry knives, didn't get in fights. But the Christ I knew was the one who

 wasn't afraid of being beaten, of being crucified in a fight. But what was I

 gonna say to all these people across America? I didn't know. 

 So I thought, well, I grew up in a difficult place, but my life really wasn't

 that bad. Maybe other people's lives are worse than mine. That's what I'll

 write about: I'll write about how terrible life can get, 'cause really that's

 the people I wanna help. I figure the nice people ... God can get to them

 without too much help. I wanna help the people that hate God. People that

 won't go anywhere near a church. You should only write about what you

 know.

 

       I remember when I was in the third or fourth grade they started

 teaching us about dinosaurs. I just loved them. I thought they were so

 cute, the way they were drawn. As I got older, I just don't think that God

 made them look exactly like that, with unusual skin tones: purple and

 green and orange and stuff like that. I don't know how they know what

 color the skin is anyway. They didn't find any. All they found was bones. 

 I'm not sure they put them all together right either. If two animals died

 having a fight and you came along and thought it was one animal, you could

 have an incredible unusual-looking animal. 

 They never have found a missing link. One reason is because man was

 living at the same time the animals were. Dinosaurs were. The fossil

 records show bare human footprints running right on top of the tracks of

 other animals. It's not millions of years and layers different. The world's

 only been around six thousand years. 

 Science says, but don't believe this, that there was an explosion in outer

 space. Earth was just a big rock and it was on fire and it was zooming

 through space and then it stopped. And then the fire went out. And then it

 got water on it somehow. And in the water were these little one-celled

 animals swimming around for a couple of billion years. Then they got tired

 and washed up onto the beach to rest. And after a couple of billion years,

 they got hungry. They would. And they wanted to walk around and find

 something to eat, but they couldn't because they didn't have any legs. So

 they grew some. And they were walking around, looking up at a tree, and

 saw some fruit, maybe a banana. Wanted to climb up in the tree and eat it.

 They grew some arms, climbed up in the tree, grabbed the banana, tried to

 peel it. I guess they didn't have enough arms and legs, must've grown that

 tail. And they're just eatin and eatin and eatin. After that they weren't

 hungry and didn't know what else to do. So they turned into people. 

 Takes a lot of faith to believe that. I don't have enough. I just have enough

 faith to believe that God made us. All of us, all animals, all humans, all

 flowers and things, just like he wanted it. And that's why it fits together

 so well, not haphazardly. I don't see a lot of evidence. I love science. 

 Like I said, I love dinosaurs. I don't know why God would make dinosaurs

 the way he made them, cause God makes things not to destroy them, but to

 last. Maybe a time came when the flood mixed up all the soil and the

 animals drowned with the people and that's why the animals were in a

 different place than the people. Maybe the people were smart enough to run

 to the top of the mountains. Maybe that's why their remains are in higher

 levels of silt than the animals. 

 But I don't think God would've made animals that had this tiny little brain

 the size of a pea and this great huge body This really really long neck,

 'cause you'd get back pain. That wouldn't be very nice. Why would God make

 the Tyrannosaurus Rex with these big huge legs and stuff, knocking over

 trees, kicking leather animals to death, but he's got his front arms so

 small he can't even get the food to his mouth? Man, they would become

 extinct. 

 Science hasn't been A very big help to me in my life. I haven't ever

 particularly wanted to include going to the moon in my schedule. It's nice

 to have medicine. It's better if they don't give you the wrong ones. I'd like

 to get one of them defibrillators and have them put it inside of me so my

 heart can keep going. But if my heart stops, maybe in the middle of the

 operation, I won't really care. I got someplace better to go than back home.

 I wasn't really worried when I was in the hospital about dying. 

 I was very peaceful, for so many days, because I just thought, "I'm right in

 God's hands. Right in God's hands. I can't do anything. I can't even get out

 of bed. This is great. I've never been exactly here before. I've always had

 so many things to do. Don't forget to call so-and-so. Don't forget in a

 couple of weeks to go to the airport. Don't forget to write some songs.

 Don't forget to make another album, after all, it's a new decade." But right

 then at that time I was just right in God's hands, like this. 

 If I didn't die, I was gonna see my family. If I did die, I was gonna see

 other parts of my family. Someday. If I didn't die, I was gonna go see my

 little boy. If I did die, I was gonna go see my father. It didn't seem to

 matter. It just seemed so perfect - I could totally trust in God. 

 'Cause when you're in the music business, you have to trust in some other

 people too. Like the people who don't pay you because they happened to

 leave town immediately after the concert while you're changing clothes.

 And the people who put out your record and never give you any money. And

 the people who write in the magazines and never did like you. And they say

 the biggest, nastiest things that they can, cause you couldn't sue them

 even if you wanted to. And I'm a Christian, so I'm never gonna. 

 To sue somebody for libel, first of all you have to prove that they knew

 what they said was wrong,they didn't say it by accident, and that it

 harmed your life. You have to prove three things, anyway, I don't wanna

 talk about that. 

 It's just that the hospital was a relief. They only tried to kill me in there. 

 Somebody from one of the magazines called up while I was in the hospital

 and my doctor was there and he said, "Should I tell them you're not here?"

 I said, "Oh no! They'll probably think it's just another rumor. They'll

 probably think it's a publicity stunt - that I just said I'm having a heart

 attack." So I said, "Tell them I'm here. Tell them what the problem is."

 "Well, should I tell them you're pretty serious?" "Yeah, tell them I'm not

 expected to live, and if I do, I'll live to be disappointed. At least they'll

 know the whole scope." Well, recently this same magazine, in the last

 year, reported that they don't think I ever was in an airplane accident and

 they don't think I ever really had a heart attack. I just think that's their

 agenda. 

 I know what mine is: that's just to love everyone I meet and tell them

 about Jesus, 'cause that's the only worthwhile thing I know. Often when I

 meet people, I don't even tell them I'm in music. They don't need to know

 that. That might just get in the way. They might like music and that might

 just interfere with their thought process about sin and salvation. 

 

 

 

 Following are questions that Larry Norman responded to by fax

 correspondence with VOG to complete the interview on March 22 and 23,

 1995. 

 

 VOG: Are there records of your airplane accident and your heart attack?

 LN: Yes, I've heard rumors that I've never been injured in and airplane

 accident and that I never had a heart attack. United Airlines Flight 215,

 Head injuries, neck and spinal damage. N.F. Reeder from United Airlines

 was put in charge of corresponding with me during 1978. Additional

 proof? My parents had to cope with me. I had to cope with me. Audiences

 who had to sit through the concerts where I couldn't remember all of my

 lyrics had to cope with me. The "fans" who waited for me to finish my

 albums had to cope with me. There were the doctors and the

 chiropractors-Like Chad Terusa, Who was the best. He was trained as a

 physician before he ever became interested in helping people without

 drugs so he had more diagnostic gifts than the others. Chad is the one who

 was able to straighten my neck back the way it was supposed to be, put

 the proper curve into my spine and stop the headaches and sciatic

 problems. God had to fix the rest of the damage.

 

 As for my heart attack, if you mean the first one, it happened on February

 28, 1992 at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. Someone from Contemporary

 Christian Music Magazine called and talked with one of my doctors after I

 was taken out of I.C.U. into general admission, so they know it's true, no

 matter what might be otherwise implied. A blood clot caused my heart

 attack. They said it was caused by stress. I lost over 40% of my heart

 muscle, unless certain people in the journalistic community believe I'm

 gifted enough to fake my E.K.G. Maybe we can have a televised bake off. If I

 can display my medical files and x-rays and prove my airplane accident

 and heart attack, then the millionaires in the Christian media, who seemed

 to have implied that I'm a liar, can buy me the defibrillator which I need

 to help me stay alive. I've been in the hospital many times in the last

 three years. So if by heart attack you mean one of the more recent

 problems you can examine my E.K.G. on the back of the Totally Unplugged

 album.

 

 I'm just a simple kid who wanted to change Christian music so we didn't

 have to listen to nothing but hymns and white southern gospel quartet

 music, and have nothing against either of them. I just didn't think that God

 needed to be limited to such an ancient repertoire. I've been in trouble

 with some Christian or another since 1956. Forty years later I don't really

 think I have to prove that I've had a heart attack or prove anything else

 just because some comedian wouldn't prove that he had been a Satanist, or

 whatever it is which is currently the impetus for people's doubt and. But

 if someone wants to get a medical update on my problems and my

 diagnosis, they can write to Street Level Ministries at 3760 Market Street

 N.E. #306 in Salem, Oregon 97301 and receive a newsletter which is being

 sent out to people who have written to me in concern over my health. They

 can also receive a free music newsletter which list all of the CDs,

 cassettes, and videos of mine which are not available in Bible bookstores

 in America. If someone wants to help me with my heart operation, buying

 one of my Cuds would move me a few dollars closer to having surgery. I'm

 grateful for all of the letters of encouragement I've received and for the

 people who have written to say that their family prays for m, or their

 church is praying for me. I finally feel like a real part of the Body of

 Christ instead of some musical outcast. 

 VOG: Sorry again to address rumors. You have, in the past, sometimes been

 accused of financial wrong-doing and various other things. We would like

 to bring your music more attention and clear the air on many of the issues

 the have been created by other articles and other musicians' comments.

 

 LN: Oh, I would love to write a book and tell what really happened at each

 juncture and publish all of the correspondence I had with artist and

 different lawyers, publish the most recent royalty statements I finally

 wrangled out of the mother company computers in 1993, show the x-rays

 from my airplane accident, take depositions from people who were on tour

 with me in Russia when Charly and I were dosed, get statements from the

 E.R. room doctor, the physician who attempted an angioplasty procedure,

 the Dutch physicians who injected me with Procan the night and following

 morning when I suffered severe arrhythmia and sudden death syndrome,

 and finally dispose of all the gossip and weight on my back which caused

 me to have a stress attack in the first place. But I don't have that luxury.

 

 I'm supposed to obey scripture. I'm not supposed to defend myself. I'm

 supposed to turn the other cheek and let God be my Salvation and my

 Defender. And I and commanded to be careful and kind when I talk about

 other people even if they are libelous and slanderous when they lie about

 me. The Bible says that vengeance belongs to God. It's also important that

 I not saddle people with the evidence of how they lived their lives fifteen

 or twenty years ago because, with Christ's help, people are capable of

 eventual change. Think about it, wouldn't it be a terrible thing to have to

 go back in time and be forced to face all your petty maliciousness and

 willful disobedience, if you have since then tried to turn away from those

 things and follow Christ more closely. If someday, someone were to sue

 me, I would be forced by law to tell the truth, and I would have no choice

 but to document everything in a court case. I used to think that would be a

 blessing for me, but as I've gotten older I don't really see how it would

 bless anyone not involved, like a Christian music enthusiast, to know

 about everything which happened in someone's life so long ago. It wouldn't

 edify anyone. It wouldn't enlighten anyone spiritually, and it might even

 hurt a lot of peoples feelings, or make them feel very let down.

 

 So suffice it to say that Mark Heard was there when all of this stuff

 happened and that he and I continued to work together for years. If I had

 been a bad person or stolen money from any artist or any of the other

 things I have been credited with doing, Mark would have been the first

 person to never speak to me again. He was as highly moral and analytically

 judicial as anyone I've ever know, musician or theologian. He was more of

 a brother to me than any artist I've ever know.

 

 VOG: For many reasons, Larry Norman has become a mysterious figure. Are

 you interested in demystifying him?

 

 There is no mystery to me. I know who I am. My friends know me. My

 family, my pastors, past and present. Anyone who has not become my

 friend who is hoping to advance his career or get me to produce his music

 has remained my friend through these decades. You know, here's a bum rap.

 Certain artist stopped being friends the minute I told them they were free

 to produce their second albums by themselves. That was the whole point

 of Solid Rock, to educate artist to become self-reliant. I don't ever want

 to be a label head of babysit someone's career for years and years. That

 will make you a lot of money but it won';t bring you peaceful,

 contemplative life. And managing and artist's career might make them a

 business associate, but it doesn't make the a true friend. I wanted more

 out of life. 

 

 I'm not saying it's wrong for others to be in business. But I don't want

 anyone telling me that I should have given up my street witnessing to

 work full time in the music business. I know what God has fashioned me

 for. Establishing a new church, or bringing a new person to Christ takes

 total precedent over producing new music. I'm just speaking for myself.

 I'm not criticizing anyone else. In fact, what a blessing it would have been

 to have found an honest manager back in the sixties and seventies.

 

 VOG: Looking back ion the period of time before you were healed from

 brain damage ... I recall the video at the Christian Artists' Seminar

 concert when you were forgetting lyrics ... others say that you would

 forget in the middle of making a record ... how do you feel about that

 period?

 

 LN: It's embarrassing when you can't do what you've always done. But

 that's just the pride of the flesh, isn't it? Like when your legs go or your

 hair falls out. I don't really feel bad about those twelve years anymore,

 because God let me develop my emotions when I had so little access to my

 intellect. In a way, it was a gift. I don't know how I would ever have

 gotten to this place in my life without that airplane accident. I'd probably

 still be an isolationist. I;d probably still be leading people into salvation

 hoping to produce some great albums for God instead of bringing them to

 Jesus for the sake of their souls. I thought I was doing something good for

 God, but I was also hurting some of the artist by co-writing their lyrics,

 over-printing my visions onto their work, which later made it impossible

 for them to live up to their initial reputation. I think that was a big

 mistake. Zeal without wisdom. That can be sin.

 

 I think it caused them pain to be traveling around the world with me and

 then several years later they were having trouble making a new album or

 even getting many concerts. In fact I don't think I'm a good producer for

 that very reason. I tried to give everyone their own identity and their own

 sound, but really I was just recording different aspects of my

 personality.I can write funny songs, classical songs, art songs, a lot of

 different kinds of songs. I thought it was the job of the producer to make

 albums for non-Christians, or for the church. I was trying to show how

 versatile God's music can be. I never meant to paint any artist into a

 corner and stick them with a direction that they could not pursue on their

 own. So I've lost confidence in helping artist because I always tried to

 make an ultimate statement with one album, and make an album which

 might be the best one they ever made. That was my biggest sin, as a co-

worker. I didn't leave enough room for the artist, you could say. And since

 I still would want to do the same thing - make an excellent album to the

 best of my ability, and try to make an ultimate statement - I realized that

 I had no business being in business. All I cared about was the art, for God's

 use. Not building a career, not creating a commercial following, or making

 money. So I don't belong in the gospel music business industry, do I? So I

 talk myself out of it.

 

 It sounds very elitist, doesn't it? It sounds like I'm trying to distinguish

 myself in some way. And I'm not. I'm just saying, I want to be me - the

 person who I'm supposed to be. I don't want to fit into the music world.

 It's hard enough to live in the real world. I was born with a certain

 imprint and that was God's business. God created me in this way. Being

 successful is man's business. Executives try to create artists. They create

 prestige and fame through advertising and choosing the right producer and

 forcing the artist to sing certain songs and forget about others. If that's

 success then I don't want it. I want peace of mind. I'd rather record what

 I've been inspired to write without interference from some matriculating

 executive who came out of accounting or the legal department. It's my

 great pleasure to record music by inspiration, not by calculation. Now I

 make it available only through the mail. I don't care if I don't get radio

 airplay. I don't write songs for the radio, I write songs for the people. And

 I get to know these people very directly through the mail, through their

 letters.

 

 VOG: Do you have opinions on LP format versus CD format?

 

 LN: Vinyl albums are bigger and you can see the artwork better. It's more

 fun to hold a big glossy 12X12 piece of colored cardboard than it is to hold

 a CD and, boy, has anyone figured out a way not to start misplacing their

 cassettes once they have more than twenty or thirty of them? CD's have

 more groove time than a vinyl disc. They sound cleaner. But some albums

 sound better with analog colors and slight surface scratches. Digital can

 be cold. I don't know. You can make a religion out of anything. We've got

 the Lord to focus upon. Let the secular world argue the theoretical merits

 of digital and analog recording frequencies.

 

 VOG: Are you still interested in what goes on in the world of music? Any

 thoughts on the current state of rock? Cobain, trends; that kind of stuff?

 

 LN: I've gotten in trouble for having opinions. Anyone can, really, can't

 they? So either print my whole answer or don't print any of it. I have

 friends who are not Christians. I always have. I always will. It's not easy,

 because you don't want them to think that by your friendship you are

 condoning all of their choices. But for a season I am in their life and they

 aren't interested in Christ, I find that I float out of their life, in the same

 way I floated in. I'm friends with the singer Joe from the band Wax. I've

 never met anyone with his energy. I like talking with him. He's very

 sincere. And he's intelligent. I'm friends with Dizzy from Guns and Roses.

 He's very earnest. I really love him. I think Slash is really a sweet guy.

 He's been soft spoken to me. I like Matt a lot. On the other hand, I've sat

 nest to Axel, knee to knee, and never said a word, because I didn't feel led

 to. You know, I don't drink and I don't smoke and I don't take drugs, but

 sometimes I find myself talking to someone who is doing all three, and a

 lot more than that in their life. It doesn't phase me and no Christian is

 going to tell me that I can't witness to someone the Holy Spirit is bidding

 me to minister to. And don't try to talk to someone unless I feel God wants

 me to. It's not a question of who's good or bad. We're all bad. It's a

 question of what does God want me to do at this moment with this person.

 

 Jesus had lunch with Zaccheus. He ministered to prostitutes at a time

 when, culturally, a rabbi wasn't even supposed to address a woman, period.

 He walked among lepers. He was unconcerned about the opinions of the

 religious community. So we need to go where God tells us, no matter what

 it looks like to other Christians. But if you're not specifically called by

 God to b be in a certain room when you should stay out. You shouldn't even

 go to rock concerts if it brings you into temptation or confusion. I grew up

 in the rock world and it holds absolutely no allure for me. I cannot even

 imagine why so many Christian artist desire to "cross over into the

 mainstream." There's nothing there except subterfuge, mammon, deception

 and a load of stress and ungodly perquisites.

 

 Sometimes I've ended up being someplace without realizing that I was

 being led there. I went to see The Pixies because I enjoyed their musical

 textures and word play. Black Francis evolved into Frank Black and I went

 to see him one night, and he said from the stage, "I think I see my favorite

 man in black standing back there...Larry Norman is that you?" So I went

 backstage and we became friends. I've gone to rock and roll parties in

 hotel rooms and quietly witnessed to roadies, musicians, and their

 stripper girlfriends, whoever was there. Some Christians would identify

 them through their sins, their over-indulgences. I see the people

 underneath the habits and the addictions and I feel bad for them. I'm very

 sad about Kurt killing himself. I would be sad if any of these children

 killed themselves. They are lost. They are in darkness. They're being

 manipulated by people in the music business, sometimes enforced labor is

 happening even to young millionaires who want to come off the road but

 aren't permitted to until the three year plan is in hiatus. Most people have

 no idea about the kind of ordeal which musicians are struggling to survive.

 

 VOG:  Do you maintain contact with Stonehill or Taylor?

 

 LN: I've seen Randy several times in the last few years. I haven't seen

 Terry for I don't know how long. Sometimes I come across one of Randy's

 and Terry's albums or a friend plays me some of their songs. Very talented

 guys. They keep on getting better. I'm please to have known them and think

 fondly of the old days. After I stopped working with Daniel Amos they

 were at a festival in Holland. Terry was sick and couldn't sing. The band

 wasn't going to get paid. I thought it was a nice opportunity to show them

 how I felt about them, even though we weren't getting along,so I went on

 stage and was their lead singer. I did the whole set with them, they got

 paid, I felt blessed, the audience had fun. It was a very nice situation.

 

 VOG: What do you see yourself doing in the future? Do you need to slow

 down? Will you be producing more European acts? Do you have any interest

 in doing more records for labels outside of your direct mail label? Any

 unreleased albums in you vault? Any plans to release them?

 LN: I have never known what my future will be like. I don't have a manager

 so I don't have a game plan. Sometimes I feel like God is telling me to stop

 and grow closer to Him. So I'm gone for a year. Now I've got a serious

 heart problem which has slowed me down a lot. I need a heart operation

 and I can't really go mush further because the medicine I've been taking is

 losing its effectiveness as it always does. If I have an operation I will be

 able to record again, but for right now Pushing Back The Darkness is an

 album I don't know if I'll ever be able to work on again. No, I don't have

 anything against recording for another record label. But right now, that's

 not an option.

 

 It's really no big deal to make a record and have some company send your

 music to magazines and disc jockeys. To be honest, I used to think it

 meant something, back in 1966 and 1967. But then I found out that it was

 a hollow victory to be in the Top Twenty radio Charts and sing on Dick

 Clark's American Bandstand and tour all over and perform in concert with

 the Doors and The Grateful Dead and The Dave Clark Five and whoever. On e

 night I was singing on stage and Janis Joplin was sitting behind the front

 curtain watching the concert with a bottle of Southern Comfort in 

 one hand and she was sipping whiskey from a paper cup. She was drunk and

 really unhappy. And every now and then, she would start yelling at me. I

 wrote "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus" about Janis. I felt really sad for

 her. I felt sad for all of them. They seemed so unhappy and so lost. I

 couldn't easily break through the haze of drugs by using music. I felt like

 the only time I had any real effectiveness was in personal conversations.

 At one point I even felt that maybe music was of no use at all. So I gave it

 up. All I did was street witness. And months later the music stated

 coming to me in my sleep. And I realized that somehow, perhaps because I

 was willing to give it up, the music had changed.

 

 So I wrote "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" and some other songs and then

 Capitol said they wanted me to record and album of songs and that they

 wouldn't censor anything, so I signed with them again and recorded Upon

 This Rock. Then I recorded Only Visiting This Planet and So Long Ago The

 Garden for MGM Records and I just kept on making records pretty much the

 way I wanted to until In Another Land got so heavily censored. After that I

 knew I should fulfill my contractual obligations as quickly as possible and

 get out of the commercial music industry. And so I started Street Level

 Records in 1978 and Phydeaux Records in 1980 and moved to Europe. And

 my life since then has been part of a totally different set of chapters

 which has very little to do with the music I wrote before. As far as new

 releases, there's going to be a 1956 to 1996 CD set available through the

 mail, whether I'm around or not , and in the meantime there are already

 five of six CD's available which have never been in the stores as well as

 old albums being released, like Bootleg and Street Level and all of those

 early albums. The only way to get a catalog is to write to Street Level

 Ministries at: 

                               Street Level Ministries

                               3760 Market Street #306

                               Salem, Oregon 97301