Gregory Alan Thornbury: ‘Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?’

33877924Today I finished Gregory Alan Thornbury’s brilliant biography of Larry Norman, Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock. Here’s the response I wrote on Goodreads:

I was a Larry Norman fan in the 1970s and 80s but lost touch with him after that. I heard stories about his failings, but was never really familiar with his story. However, songs like ‘The Outlaw’, ‘One Way’, ‘Reader’s Digest’ and ‘The Great American Novel’ were permanently etched on my musical imagination and I continued to listen to the old albums with great enjoyment.

So I was excited when I heard about this book, and it did not disappoint. Larry Norman emerges from these pages as a real human being, one who struggles with weaknesses and failings as we all do. And yet, his influence on my life as a Christian and a musician was entirely positive, and I suspect thousands of others could say the same thing. Having heard some of the rumours about him I expected to think less highly of him after reading this book, but the opposite is the case. I will go back to the old records and listen to them again with more appreciation for the real human being who created them, and I will gladly own up to being a Larry Norman fan.

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? on Amazon.ca.

Here’s the song the book is named after:

And here’s another favourite Larry Norman song:

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Be Mery and Glad This Gude Newyere!

Here’s a medieval New Year’s carol.

What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

“Lyft up your harts and be glad”
In Cryste’s byrth the angel bad;
Say eche to oder, yf any be sad:
What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

Now the kyng of hevyn his byrth hath take,
Joy and myrth we owght to make.
Say eche to oder, for hys sake:
What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

I tell you all with hart so fre,
Ryght welcum ye be to me.
Be glad and mery for charite!
What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

The gudman of this place in fere
You to be mery he prayth you here;
And with gud hert he doth to you say:
What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

(From a manuscript from Balliol College, Oxford, MS.354. Described as ‘Richard Hill of London, commonplace-book in English, Latin and French, including transcripts of late medieval poems and carols, London annals, family memoranda, etc., first third of the 16th century.’ Original here. The Clerk of Oxford has a modernized text here.

‘Nowell Sing We’

This is beautiful:

 

Here are the lyrics (close enough):

Nowell sing we now all and some,
For Rex pacificus is come.

In Bethlehem, in that fair city,
A child was born of a maiden free,
That shall a lord and prince be,
A solis ortus cardine.

Children were slain in full great plenty,
Jesu, for the love of thee;
Wherefore their souls saved be,
Hostis Herodis impie.

As the sun shineth through the glass,
So Jesu in his mother was;
Thee to serve now grant us grace,
O lux beata Trinitas.

Now God is come to worship us;
Now of Mary is born Jesus;
Make we merry amongst us;
Exultet caelum laudibus.

Nowell sing we now all and some,
For Rex pacificus is come.

For background information about this fifteenth century carol and its meaning and story, see this really interesting post by Eleanor Parker, the ‘Clerk of Oxford’.

Siobhan Miller ‘Bonny Light Horseman’

When I introduce this song I usually say “It’s an anti-war song, but the war it’s ‘anti’ is the Napoleonic Wars”. It’s a traditional song that exists in English and Irish versions; I learned it from James Keelaghan, but Siobhan Miller and her boys do a nice job of it here.

 

This is number two in my series of ‘Songs of War and Peace 2017’.