Ray LaMontagne the Theologian

Ray LaMontagne’s soulful voice has often been compared to the voice of Van Morrison.  His music has been featured on such television shows as “Fringe”, “Eli Stone”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and “Parenthood”.  He’s been to the top of the Billboard charts. As a singer/songwriter his unassuming artistic contribution is rooted in the American culture.

But, LaMontagne prefers to stay out of the spotlight, refusing most interviews and even performing concerts with little to no lighting on stage.  His ultimate goal?  "I want to write music that will outlive me." - Rollingstone.com, July 2010. 

Even as someone who has not professed a faith of any sort, his music often strikes spiritual tones… many of which seem to be the result of searching for the answer to life’s ultimate question about God and faith.  In it's most basic form, then, that makes Ray LaMontagne a theologian. 

According to his RCA Records bio LaMontagne’s parents split soon after his birth.  His mother had six children from various fathers and his father was a musician who, in LaMontagne’s words, “I talked to for a total of a minute and a half in twenty years.” This disconnected relationship left him never wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps. Yet, as a young person he was drawn to instruments- whether it was piano or drums or something else.  Always the new kid as they lived a nomadic life, LaMontagne was horrible in school and barely made it to graduation.  Then, four years later while working in a shoe factory he heard a solo album from Steven Stills and was changed.  “You don't know how these things happen.  I just knew– this is what I’m gonna do.”   It was then that he started writing music.

In “Let It Be Me”, Ray LaMontagne sings of hardship.  He sings of nothing going your way, not being able to find your place in life.  And when you get to that point, even when your faith has run out– that’s when you need someone.  And let that someone be me, he says. 

This haunting and beautiful song puts the brokenness and pain of humanity on display.  It speaks to the fact that we all have one thing in common– there will come a time of brokenness and desperation. We all sense that something isn't right about the world.  

The Bible is God’s story of redemptive history unfolding in a way that invites His creation back into a right relationship with Him. In our brokenness and need, Jesus has something to say. Ray LaMontagne sees that the answer to pain and struggle is found in relationship– and he is absolutely right. ...he just stops short of seeing what it ultimately could be.  He wants to be the answer as a friend to the hurting.  Yes, the answer to our pain is found in relationship.  But, true rest from our ongoing struggle is only found in one place. 

So, when it feels like we can’t go on.  When we've come to the end of ourselves...