Regina Spektor "Laughing With" as Lead Single

Ok, I admit it. I have a problem. A problem which makes me completely sucked in by female, piano-brandishing musicians. Tori Amos. Fiona Apple. Regina Spektor. It's kind of my thing.

One thing about the former and later of those three songstresses, though, is that they often (especially Tori) talk about religion in their lyrics. Regina uses it more for story-telling, as that's more her lyrical style in general, while Tori uses her songs as a way to criticize religion (all of you should go out and listen to her song "God" right now, great stuff). However, Regina's new album, "Far", is due out in store by the end of June, and has chosen as her lead single the song "Laughing With". I loved it immediately, as it's mellow and somewhat haunting and brooding, something right up my alley. However, you can't help but notice the presence of God in the song. The lyrics are:

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God
When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood

*Chorus*
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious
Ha ha
Ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’ve lost all they’ve got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughing at God in hospital
No one’s laughing at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very
poor

No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
We’re all laughing with God


Now, whether or not she's critiquing God, religion, faith, or religious folks in general is not my concern here. What struck me is that her lead single so unabashedly talks about something with Christians feel is so stigmatized in our popular culture (I find it necessary to point out here that Regina herself is Jewish, and so may or may not be referring to the same Christian God who bore Jesus, but since America is primarily a Christian-dominated nation, Christianity is primarily my focus). Christians are often complaining that they are the ones who are being marginalized, but had Regina recorded a track with lyrics such as "No one has faith in a hospital/ what good would it do you?/there is no God", etc, I don't see that flying with the record companies as being her lead single, let alone a single at all. Kanye West said in his song "Jesus Walks" that "they say you can rap about anything except for Jesus/that means guns, sex, lies, video tapes/but if I talk about God my record won't get played". While I think that popular music today is overrun with the "sex, lies, and videotape" culture, God is clearly not a forbidden topic in this field. But I feel like Atheism is.

What do you guys think the lyrics here are saying? I'm terrible at deciphering this kind of stuff.

Views: 2277

Tags: atheism, christianity, culture, judiasm, music, pop

Comment by Cara Coleen on May 22, 2009 at 12:32pm
You think she's atheist, Randy? I don't get that from the song at all. Sadly, I'd definitely have to say she's advocating God and chiding people for only calling on him when they're distressed, but when everything is fine they'll joke about and laugh at him.

Anyway... I can't wait to listen to it!!! Thanks, Laura, for posting this. I LOVE Tori... :) Your music taste rocks my face off.
Comment by Laura on May 24, 2009 at 4:47pm
I think I agree with Cara on this one. It does seem like her attitude is more like "you can all laugh at God when it's convenient to". But as I said, religious overtones aside, it's a great song. And yes, Tori is amazing <3.
Comment by Natalie Kozak on June 23, 2009 at 12:24pm
I personally think she's referring to people who use religion for their own agenda and as a result make a joke of God, such as when she talks about people praying for money, seeing God as a genie, or yelling "he hates us" (IMO referring to those who say God hates gays, abortions, etc). I think she's advocating God, but not religion. IMO the song is targeting those (extremists) who believe in God, as obviously an atheist wouldn't pray for money or say "God hates us" because an atheist doesn't believe in God lol

This is my fav song off her new album anyway, I do like it :o) and apologies for being a month late to the post, I just randomly stumbled across this blog.
Comment by Felipe Meres on June 26, 2009 at 2:22pm
I see the song a lot more like an illustration of human behavior then an opinion or criticism. If you analyze it, it's neutral. It's pure storytelling, the events described in the song are exactly the ones Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists experience in their lives. Since Classic Greece there have been gods, and that fact's been printed into our culture and way of thinking.
Comment by jeremiah dixon on December 5, 2009 at 5:27am
I believe that she is articulating a fundamental truth, namely ,that in times of extreme crisis the soul turns instinctively to it's maker,God.She lists various traumatic events to which one might be subject ; hospitalisation,war, receiving bad news and ultimately at the end of one's life "when they're saying their good byes." In these times the argument for the existence of God appears to be won.That's what Regina appears to be saying.

However, she also cautions that although this is true,our understanding of who God is can be seriously skewed.Rather than cultivating a serious relationship with him,some people treat him like Houdini or Santa Claus only to be called upon for favours during those critical times in life.She is saying,I believe,that God is much more sophisticated than that and indeed wants us to see him as being more than that.She finds that peoples pereceptions of God can be funny.

And possibly God finds it funny that we often characterise him in this way.

Regina is a believer.

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