When I interviewed Casting Crowns lead singer Mark Hall last month, one of the things that stuck with me the most was his evaluation of why artists honor God with their music.
“I know a lot of Christian artists that wish the mom in the van or the dad at the construction site could hear this song or that,” Hall said. “There are a lot of ways to get the Gospel across, and when I hear songs in the mainstream that are trying to that, that’s great. I think a lot of energy in Christian circles is wasted by trying to figure out why somebody is doing something. If you just listen to the music and see how it’s trying to reach people, that’s when something could really happen.”
A song released this summer that crosses that boundary in a powerful way is “Laughing With” by pop artist Regina Spektor.
I had heard of the song before, but was drawn into it hard and fast after hearing it full length on a local radio station known for playing Dave Matthews alongside B.B. King and Led Zeppelin.
The striking chorus which goes, “No one’s laughing at God in a 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,” is not the usual fare you would expect to hear often outside of a Christian station. Add to the melody and message an extraordinary video, and you have precisely the scenario Hall describes.
The album “Far” which contains “Laughing With” peaked at third on Billboard’s Hot 100 album charts in June.
But before you assume Spektor is a crossover Christian musician, nothing could be further from the truth. A Jew born in the former Soviet Union, Spektor immigrated with her parents to New York after the disintegration of the Communist state. She received formal training at the Manhattan School of Music after beginning as a talented young pianist in her native country.
Her faith background, however, shouldn’t be a barrier to her tribute to the closeness to God many Christians feel in times of struggle.