I Started a Joke was recorded by the Bee Gees in June 1968, released as a single that December, and featured on the album Idea released in September of the same year.

"The melody to this one was heard aboard a British Airways Vickers Viscount about a hundred miles from Essen. It was one of those old four engine 'prop' jobs, that seemed to drone the passenger into a sort of hypnotic trance, only with this it was different. The droning, after a while, appeared to take the form of a tune, which mysteriously sounded like a church choir. So it was decided! We accosted the pilot, forced him to land in the nearest village and there, in a small pub, we finished the lyrics. Actually, it wasn't a village, it was the city, and it wasn't a pub, it was a hotel, and we didn't force the pilot to land in a field... but why ruin a perfectly good story?"1 -Robin Gibb

Themes in this song include: personal truth, understanding, repression, and quitting. While the fourth pair of lines may allude to Jesus, the song on the whole seems to refer to personal conflict with others in matters of understanding and perception. Events which seem unfair or unjust to, or misaligned with one's personal truth may lead to cynicism, with which others may disagree and dislike. In this piece, understanding and hope of being understood appears for a short while, before quitting or repression of oneself.

I started a joke which started the whole world crying,
But I didn't see that the joke was on me, oh, no.

I started to cry which started the whole world laughing;
Oh, if I'd only seen that the joke was on me.

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes;
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I said.

Till I finally died which started the whole world living,
Oh, if I'd only seen that the joke was on me.

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes;
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I said.

Till I finally died which started the whole world living
Oh, if I'd only seen that the joke was on me, oh no,
That the joke was on me.

1p.188, Bee Gees Anthology, Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1991.

CST Approved

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