Book Review: Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus by Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill

Review of Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus by Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill. Photo and Review by Jeff McLain.

This is a review of Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus by Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill. Released in 2022 by Salem Books, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus is an exhaustive spiritual biography on rock and roll. Authors Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill tell the tales of many popular musicians who find Jesus on their spiritual search, and when they reach the end of themselves.

Music, especially that which emerged through the rock and roll scene, has long been an influence on our societal ethos; it has been the companion for many individuals on their spiritual journey, and it at times has influenced others spiritually. It should not surprise us then that many musicians have taken spiritual sojourns in their private lives, and in the public squares, which has often influenced their songs and musical endeavors. For generations, musicians have been taking their fans on pilgrimage with them. Some of our biggest music celebrities have not only searched for spiritual meaning in very public ways, but they have also inspired whole generations to do the same. From the 1950s through the 1980s, music especially played a part in the spiritual sojourn of many. Many of those sojourners turned to Jesus, and others to other answers, like Eastern philosophy.

Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, throughout Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus, explore the faith journeys of notable musicians of today and yesterday, many of which affected and/or reflected the cultural spiritual awakening that was also emerging. In the 60s and 70s, we witnessed many truth seekers find Jesus in some dramatic ways. In the introduction of Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus, Greg Laurie remarks that “though some see rock and roll as the antithesis of true faith, the truth is that many rock stars have become believers because they’ve lived at the pinnacle of an empty world and know that ultimately, it’s not satisfying. There must be something to this because leaving fame, fortune, and the easy lie to take up the cross is no small choice.”[1] This book follows the spiritual journeys of some of the most notable musicians as they enter a faith journey, many of them turning to Jesus after having everything they could have dreamed of.

In Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus, authors Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill explore what ultimately turned these musicians to Jesus, unpacking common denominators, reflecting on their confessions of their faith, and giving the reader the important realization that “no one is beyond the reach of God.”[2] This book explores the spiritual searches of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Alice Cooper, Carrie Underwood, and dozens more. Some of these spiritual journeys end well, and others still wanting. The book flap reads, “From Elvis to the Beatles, Donna Summer to Sheila E., and Brian Welch to Justin Bieber,” we find “a host of deeply emotional voices that have shaped our culture and effectively discipled our kids”[3] - either for the good or the bad. Fans and individuals will know a little of many of these stories, but these two authors also exhaustively cite, document, and interview the lesser-known facts of the spiritual sojourns taken by some of our foremost influential cultural icons and voices. This is certainly the most comprehensive look in which I have read that reflects on the spiritual journeys of these musicians. The authors point out that at the end of our journey through this life, there might be some “surprises when we get to Heaven. Some of the people we thought would be there won’t be. Some of the people we never thought would be there will be.”[4] I am convinced we will see some faces we never believed we would.

As a follower of Jesus, and as someone who took a similar spiritual sojourn, I was encouraged by the confessions of faith from many in this book. I reflected on where I found similar ideas and thoughts that I journeyed through years before. Even more, I enjoyed reflecting on the mysterious way God works when we are at the end of ourselves, and I found myself hopeful for some of my friends and favorite musicians. Though I think God chooses to work in small, humble ways and does not need celebrities and power brokers to transform or influence a nation, I do think that when God is doing something in small, humble ways, it is not only reflected in the streets but also in the cultural power brokering expressions of society, like our music and the arts - his renewal reaches all spheres of life and influence. My favorite aspects of this book dealt with how Greg Laurie unpacked the music of the '60s and '70s, and the Jesus Revolution. Greg Laurie experienced this era himself, and it was certainly his sweet spot and passion. I think he grotesquely oversimplified Generation X, and the music it produced, and which I experienced the spiritual sojourn and expressions of the most in my sojourn.

To glimpse behind the pages of Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus, the book explores the story of Bob Dylan, and how “throughout his career, fans and critics alike have struggled to figure out the enigmatic singer-songwriter,” and this includes his journey of faith.[5] Dylan was a songwriter who “believed in subverting everything the previous generation had embraced as truth,” and he did so with songs that were “intelligent, poetic, and powerful,” leaving his fans to “pore over his lyrics, trying to figure out what he was really saying.”[6] Dylan had two notable shifts in his career, his switch to electric, which upset his fanbase, and his conversion to Jesus, which disturbed his highly anxious fanbase. Dylan has always had a spiritual curiosity, which led him to talk to rabbis, watch the Billy Graham Crusades, reflect biblical themes in his songs, and explore various expressions of faith. Bob Dylan remarked that he saw Billy Graham as “the greatest preacher and evangelist in my time…He brought the storm down. Clouds parted. Souls got saved.”[7] Dylan’s spiritual journey climaxed when he entered the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, founded in 1974 by Kenn Gulliksen, “who was part of the Jesus Movement at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa.”[8] It was there that Dylan accepted Christ, in what Bob Dylan recalled as “a knee-buckling experience.”[9] In gratitude for this experience, Bob shared “A lot of people have died along the way - the Janises and the Jimis…but God has chosen to revive me.”[10] He said “Jesus put his hand on me…it was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up.”[11] At the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Dylan went through an intense discipleship school that was four hours a day, five days a week, for five months.[12] Bob Dylan’s three Jesus-inspired albums followed this experience. For a while, after his Damascus experience, Dylan would only perform his new songs which upset his fanbase and even had him treated like a “traitor.”[13] Over the years, many people have tried to guess where Dylan is at in his faith, and he is notably a man of contradictions and mystery. Through, in an interview in 2009, Dylan was questioned about his cover of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” to which he replied, “I am a true believer.”[14] Even Dylan’s former wife is quoted saying that Bob Dylan told her “I believe the whole Bible.”[15] Though he is quieter these days, there are still many clues in his newer songs such as “I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You;” clues that suggest Dylan is still pursuing Jesus.[16]

Greg Laurie is a well-known pastor, evangelist, author, and more. Currently, he is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside California, and the founder of Harvest Crusades, a nationwide evangelistic event that has drawn more than 8.8 million people since 1990. Laurie was involved in the Jesus Revolution movie that awed audiences last year, which follows his story and the Jesus Movement that emerged out of the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa (California. Greg has been married to his wife for more than forty-five years.

As a read, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & Jesus is an engaging, light and easy read. This book is just eleven chapters and just under 200 pages. I finished this book in about a day and a half, but I was enthralled with it from start to finish. Some books convince us of a theological conviction, others of the mystery of God, but this is the type of book that encourages us to remember the supernaturally transformative nature of the good news of the Kingdom of God, the miraculous apologetic work of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ endless pursuit of all. I would recommend this book for those who are curious about some of the special moments that emerged in the Jesus People Movements, and other expressions of spiritual sojourning that we have experienced in the music scenes throughout history, but I recommend it also for those who like to hear stories on how God reaches across imaginary boundaries we’ve set. In Greg Laurie fashion, the book ends with a clear call to Jesus.

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Highlights & Quotes





[1] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), xiv.

[2] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), xv.

[3] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), Front Flap.

[4] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), x.

[5] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 59.

[6] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 60.

[7] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 61.

[8] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 63.

[9] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 63.

[10] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 63.

[11] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 64.

[12] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 65.

[13] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 68.

[14] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 72.

[15] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 73.

[16] Greg Laurie and Marshall Terrill, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2022), 73.

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