I Started a Joke Lyrics

The Bees Gees – I Started a Joke Lyrics and Meaning

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’d said.

Til 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’d said.

‘Til I finally died, which started the whole world living,
oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was one me.


Enjoy This Video of “I Started a Joke”

The Story Behind the Song – I Started a Joke

I Started a Joke” is a song by the English rock band Bee Gees from their 1968 album Idea, which was released as a single in December of that year, following the release of the album in September. Curiously, it was not released as a single in the UK, where buyers who could not afford the album had to content themselves with a Polydor version by Heath Hampstead.

The song’s B-side was “Kilburn Towers”, except in France, “Swan Song” was used. “I Started a Joke” was written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, and produced by them with Robert Stigwood Colin Petersen and Vince Melouney (as the Bee Gees).

The song is mainly written and sung by Robin Gibb. “I Started a Joke” is supposedly about someone who has done or said something horribly wrong, which results in feelings of social alienation. Another interpretation is that the song is sung from the point of view of the devil. Prior to performing the song onstage, Barry Gibb has remarked that one interpretation of the song is regarding the devil.

According to Robin Gibb, the melancholic melody of the song was inspired by the sounds on board an aeroplane:

“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?”

Robin Gibb told The Mail on Sunday on November 1, 2009 about “I Started a Joke”:

“This is a very spiritual song. The listeners have to interpret it themselves, trying to explain it would detract from the song”.

Songs for the Idea album were completed on June 25 (except for the song “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” which was recorded on July 12 during the Odessa sessions). A few songs were given a little more work, the highlight being the last new song, “I Started A Joke”, one of the Bee Gees’ classics with its enigmatic and thought-provoking lyrics. It must have been newly composed, since Robin did not even include it on his demos of two weeks earlier. Covered by O’Hara’s Playboys on the Fontana label and also Heath Hampstead.

It was written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. On the first verse of the song, the chords were: G, B minor, C and D and back to G, The chords at the song’s refrain was E minor, B minor, C, G, B minor, E minor, A minor, D7. The chords on the second verse was same like the first verse. On the second verse refrain, it features the vocals work by Barry and Robin. The song’s promotional video was on the television special called Idea. Maurice is playing Rickenbacker 4001 and Vince Melouney playing Gibson ES-335. The song reached #1 in Canada, New Zealand and Australia, In Canada, it spent two weeks as the number one in RPM charts.

Robin Gibb’s son played “I Started a Joke” on his phone just after his father died from kidney failure on May 20, 2012. Robin-John Gibb told The Sun:

When he passed away we went out, they took the equipment away and we came back in, I picked up my phone and found “I Started a Joke” on YouTube and played it. I put the phone on his chest and that was the first time I broke down. I knew that song and its lyrics were perfect for that moment. That song will always have new meaning to me now.

One of Robin’s signature songs, Barry Gibb featured the song on his 2013 Mythology tour. Barry sang the first verse of the song, then handed the vocal over to Robin, featured in a filmed performance.




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  1. Gone but not forgotten long live the beegees I still listen to the beegees

  2. I will always listen to The Bee Gees music. Just sorry that Maurice and Robin are gone.
    Love all of their music

  3. My all time number one group …& will be until the day I die.
    ‘Til this day, I always listen to one of their songs before going to bed.
    Not only did I get into their music, but their personalities; anything concerning the Bee Gees is of great interest to me …their wives, their kids, their parents, & every interview. They were very open regarding their personal lives, & I remember every word that was said.
    I’m going to see a tribute to the Bee Gees this month.
    Given a test on them, I would get an A+.
    There isn’t much I wouldn’t give to meet Barry.

  4. You know I was not a Bee Gees fan when I was young. Honestly, I was just a mom trying to raise 4 kids etc..I was a bit ahead of the time of their pooularity.
    Here, I am now,in my later 70’s and I’m “in love” with all of them. I play one of their. cd’s in my car constantly…..I’m learning the words. I often put one on at bedtime and drift off to sleep….”Still Waters” (it is playing as I write this)
    Needless to say I have many of their works…I’m especially impressed by their musical genius….self taught. …. !!!
    I’ve listened to “This is where I Came In” the official story of the Bee Gees, several times.
    Robin’s “Titanic Requiem” is a most thrilling example of his genius. The partnership with his youngest son just before his transition exudes his passion, his love of family,his immense range of talent….his gift to our world and especially to his son, RJ.
    Can you see I’m one huge “young” FAN ?
    Maurice has amazed me with his ability to play so many musical instruments….all self taught ! Such a great “Musician “…Wish I had more of his solos…..and Barry, the Instigator of the music talent with his bros.
    …he being the eldest , took them all to an opprortunity for fame and fortune .
    They , all three did not disappoint !
    …..You may have noticed , I am quite enthusiastic and could go on and on but
    I let me just say to the two in Spirit, Robin and Maurice, and Barry,the one remaining with us…”Thank You for Sharing your lives and LOVE OF EVERYTHING MUSIC with “my” world !

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