Laughing With


  • This spiritual plea was the lead single from Jewish-American singer songwriter Regina Spektor's fifth studio album Far. The theme of this song is related to the old expression, "There are no atheists in trenches." The reasoning here is that it's easy to be an atheist when you're sitting comfortably in your living room, a bit harder when you're potentially minutes away from your death.

    The other half of this song's theme is that God allegedly does have a sense of humor. This idea goes back to an old quote, frequently butchered on the Internet. The incorrect version: "God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh," not at all said by Voltaire.
    Correct version: "Creator — A comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh," said by author H.L. Mencken in his work A Book of Burlesques in 1920. Voltaire lived in the 18th century, in France, years before the word "comedian" was even coined. He was witty, but he was Renaissance witty, not George-Burns-with-a-cigar witty.
  • This song is one of several on Far containing religious imagery. Spektor told Spin magazine: "I'm always fascinated with faith, religion, and spirituality, and what those things are to each other, or how they come together or don't come together. When I was done with this record I was like, 'Whoa, I have a lot of stuff here that's just about, like, religion.' Which is amazing. It wasn't planned, but it's one of those concepts that my mind is just fascinated with, and I'm always mulling over. Sometimes I'm really positive about religion, but, you know, sometimes I'm really sarcastic about it, too. Hey, that's God, that's life."
  • Spektor said in publicity materials that she arranged strings for this song, "but instead of a traditional quartet we had two cellos. I'm drawn to that, the lower sounds - bass, cello, tuba, that warm bottomy sound."
  • Some of the songs on Far, such as this one, existed for several years before Spektor recorded the album. She decided that now was as good a time as any to release them onto the world. The Russian born singer-songwriter said to BBC News: "I always feel some sort of relief when I record one of the older songs because I'm like, 'oh, you've been patiently waiting your turn."
  • Spektor hails from Moscow, Russia. She's a Russian Jew emigrated to New York, a walking cultural treasure. Some of her songs, such as "Apres Moi" and "8th Floor," have Russian as well as English lyrics. Her unique background has doubtless contributed to her adorably quirky, if sometimes incomprehensible, point of view.

    Apparently she also dabbled in an acting career, with a bit cameo and a couple of soundtrack songs in 2002's Winning Girls Through Psychic Mind Control. However, the film is so obscure that even IMDB hasn't filled in the details yet, so hanged if we're going to be any further help.

Comments: 1

  • Krzysztof from Pittsburgh, PaRated 0 The first 50-or-so lines are pretty self-explanatory, and really serve as background leading up to the point of the song... the golden nugget: "No one's laughing at God/ We're all laughing with God"

    When we make a punchline of someone, and realize that person is standing right behind us, we say, "we werent laughing at you!.... we were laughing *with* you!" It seems to me that the last lines mean to say that while in good times (cocktail parties), when we feel no need for a protector and guiding light, we may mistreat and devalue God by making a punchline of him, but during times of anguish and hardship (war), when we have no place to which to go and no one to whom to turn, we feel God's presence and our need for his help. Remembering or past indiscretions, we seek to cover our tracks and, in a way, ask for forgiveness and reconciliation, in order to beg for his guidance and intercession.

    A song about tragedy, human vulnerability and mortality, but also, I believe, about the omnipresence of a loving benefactor, or at least, for those who don't believe, a security blanket (something which, in one form or another, we all need at some point in our lives). In beautiful contrast to the minor chord and accompanying despair throughout the bulk of the song, the final, major chord leaves me with a feeling of of hope and comfort, as if to say, "it'll all be OK."

    In any event: quite a masterpiece Regina, to expand so simple an idea into a heartfelt, reflective piece such as this.
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