What does I Started A Joke mean?

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The Bee Gees: I Started A Joke Meaning

Tagged: Irony [suggest]

Song Released: 1968

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I Started A Joke Lyrics

I started a joke
That started the whole world crying
But i didn't see...
That the joke was on me
I started to cry
That started the whole world laughing
If i'd only seen
That the joke was on me

I looked at the skies
Running my hands...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 31st 2011 report

    Though this song is considered old in musical reference, it still springs new to the masses who perpetually discover and rediscover the talents of the Bee Gees. Even those of us who have been fans for the span of a generation find new meaning in old lyrics as life carries us into dimensions we have never before explored.

    Often seen as a spiritual commentary on Robin's part, he has never claimed that to be the basis of the piece, as such. Experience draws us all in a diversity of directions, often all at once, and inspiration is the trickle-down of that overload.

    I am not one to climb into the great minds of our times and autopsy their brainchild of work but I have an awareness of something woven into the lyric here that I've never before seen discussed. The piece encompasses only eight lines of poetic statement, clean and straight-forward in appearance and delivery, yet steeped in the mystery of a thousand ages. This song leaves naked, parts of the soul we tend to keep covered, even from our own deeper selves.

    We see in it, our own personal sins of omission that do not look so pretty in black and white and are even more haunting when presented in a package of understated music and single-voiced verse. Although I do see where the spiritual intonation peers through the lyric at us, I see here, too, the personal commentary of an inner moral dilemma being posed by the subject and the step by step process by which he rationalizes his justification for not following his inner personal voice. This person wants desperately to shed his etiquetted skin and stand on the purity of truth rather than cower in civilized silence in the face of injustice.

    He theorizes the consequences of such an action on his part. He knows his statement will upset the world that, up to this point, was living comfortably in its own shallow self-deception. Because his view is so different from everyone else, he knows this will upset the sedate tranquility of those around him. In defensive retaliation, rather than re-examining, reforming, and admitting to the error of their ways, society would turn its collective, disdainful back on his statement and proclaim the fundamental truth he has exposed to be merely the folly of a prankster.

    He goes on to see that he will not be taken seriously and cries in the frustration of being the only one who has had this vision of truth and reality. He feels alone and small in the cosmos. At this, he knows the world will take great delight in his outward appearance of weakness and defeat and in their arrogance he knows they will unite in crushing declamation and mercilessly taunt him wherever he goes, all the days of his life.

    He looks up, seeking heavenly approval and resolve of the issue. He attempts to clear his eyes searching for a sign of the miraculous awakening of those around him. Just as he begins to dry his eyes in the faith that, because of his sincerity of heart, there will surely now be change, he tumbles out of his dream-state into reality. He falls hard from grace back into the moment.

    The enormity of the entire situation crashes over him like a tidal wave as he sees the ramifications of what he has started by his simple statement of truth. He is paralyzed in thought and can no longer make sense of his own words as they drown in the whirlpool of confusion between human emotion and soulful truth. He eventually dies a broken man because he knows the truth but never pursued it to the fullest of its intent due to his lack of courage in his own personal convictions. He saw himself as wholly inadequate to challenge what he did not approve of in this world so he never stood up for what he believed in.

    After his death, civilization perpetuates itself in its blithe ignorance, unscathed by the voice of truth he held within. He is gone, and with him, the potential threat he posed to a thinly-skinned euphoric society.

    In the end, he sees that he had indeed been right and that society was truly wrong. He knows then, all too late, that he would have made a difference if only he had not given in to his own imagined fears.

    He wasted a lifetime repressing himself and the truth he had once envisioned. He had become his own worst enemy. He had shackled his own soul down - not the society that he had tried to hold accountable for his lack of action. He ultimately became the very thing he once morally raged against - a silent, self-deceiving member of a pretentious urbane society.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Feb 4th 2021 report

    Not wanting to give Satan any glory, but he wrote this song as well as most, if not all popular songs.
    It starts off with, I started a joke which started the whole world crying. This is a euphemism for, I told a lie which started the whole world crying. The greatest lie ever told was in the garden of Eden, when Satan lied to Eve, causing her to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Up to that point they where living in total harmony bliss and perfection, where there was no tears. The undeniable evidence of this statement is that it affected the entire World, as the song describes in the lyrics. His lie brought the world under a curse of sickness and death and having mankind possess the awareness of all that is good and evil. Then he says. Oh if I'd only seen that the joke was on me. At that point God also cursed Satan, so there where personal consequences to
    His lies, as in the book of Genesis. Then he says. I started to cry which started the whole world laughing means. To spite God he went out corrupting and perverting Gods Holy ways, and purpose for mankind, by introducing him to every evil pervers practice,this he calls laughing. Then he says. I looked at the skies running my hands over my eyes, hurting my head from the things that I had said. Jesus said I beheld Satan fall like lightening from heaven. Satan was banned from heaven and cast out to the Earth for his actions. That's also why the lightening bolt is used as a symbol in rock music, it is an image that represents Satan. Then he says. I finally died which started the whole world living. Take note that the emphasis is on the words finally and whole . The Bible teaches that at the end of this age after the thousands year millenium, that Satan is cast into the lake of fire where the false prophet and the antichrist are with all unbelievers and the abominable. And there is a new heaven and a new Earth where God dwells with those that are his, and wipes away every tear, and there is no more curse sickness or death. And that's what he means by, started the whole world living. Praise be to God for his Great Justice and Mercy And our glorious Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

  3. anonymous
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    Jun 21st 2022 report

    This song to me is about Jesus Christ. The lyrics "I finally died and the whole world starte living". Says it all for me!

  4. anonymous
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    Apr 6th 2022 report

    First heard the song while in vietnam,so being a lover of strong vocal I liked the song. I did not analyze it I listened when I could to a voice that gave me a touch of beauty in the midst of hell

  5. anonymous
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    Jan 24th 2022 report

    The meaning of the song is pretty simple. People overcomplicate it. It is about someone that said something stupid and humiliated himself. He feels that everyone is laughing at him while he is crying. I'm sure everyone can relate to this. You just want to die (which is why he says "when I finally died..") and you feel that will make everything return to normal. The Talmud in fact says that embarassing someone is like murdering them. That is what this song expresses very simply.

  6. anonymous
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    Sep 11th 2021 report

    Robin Gib tried to claim this as a deeply Spiritual song like it was a the St. Mathew Passion’s “Mache Dich mein Hertze Rein” or something then fails to deliver any meaning to it with the claim “ it’s so spiritual any meaning I give it would only detract from it, like an explanation “can” make the Holy into rubbish in the blink of an eye.
    The truth is these guys were so hungry for fame and money using music as a vector and really a facade because they never did get any good.
    They just wrote down benign meaningless porridge glue lyrics and let your imagination do the work.
    Barry still plays in the first position and badly after 60 years. That not true love of music, Thats love of money. Look at bands like Spiro Gyra ( not the early 70’s folk band) and how they have evolved! That’s how people that love the art develop or even Jeff Beck to a degree, but doubt he can read the art he claims to love, but they love music not evoked to act by the groupies dope and fiat Mass Onnico witchcraft bucks they have purchased your souls minds and planet very cheaply with. It’s sad really. Orwell was right.
    You love your slavery.

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  7. anonymous
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    Sep 11th 2021 report

    He started a joke that wasn’t in the least bit funny all right.
    That dreadful falsetto, and 60 years of playing guitar and never getting any better but claiming to be a musician.
    People attracted to fame money and sex and music just happens to be the fraudulent vector they employ to sell it to likewise creatures that don’t know an interval from a Plagal Cadence.
    All that potential and they never got any better ever.
    And please don’t claim sales is evidence of merit the greatest musicians die penniless sucked dry by their Parasitic agents and the like.
    The world is full of fools set to be sold absolute crap absolutely and you lap it up like smarties and that is the truth. The best die penniless not even recognised by the 97% until time catches up with their stupidity.
    I don’t want to be arrogantly rude, but the truth demands it.
    Wake up to yourselves or the entire world will be ripped from under your feet

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  8. anonymous
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    Sep 11th 2021 report

    It’s meaningless dribble.
    Most of the Masonic Frankist controlled music industry lyrics are drivel. Take away the music and it isn’t even Poetry.
    The Bee Gees were tenacious workers but they were never art for art sake musicians.
    Their songs were never created with any point other than to make money and fame which ended up killing most of them, and worse, leaving one alive to realise the folly of serving nothing of real value.
    Most players gravitate toward musicianship in time but the Bee Gees. They were never EW & F caliber or the ridiculously named TOTO who were great players.
    No the Masonic cult has a strangle hold on anything that can move human beings souls like the liberal arts and feed you Tripe. They even infect Jazz and will always keep important things secret from you for their psychopath Masters.
    Anyone that thinks the HeeBeeGeeBees are the pinnacle of music has never played and instrument or known an iota about music in their life. They laymen and women that generally followed a social clique of peer acceptance because I am telling you you without reserve the Bee Gees we’re less than ordinary and a disgrace for people that chose music as a career and in 50 years came up with the never improving tripe they did.
    They showed promise early with some track like How do you mend a Brocken heart, but never broke the envelope of their controllers.
    Who ever told Barry that his Counter Tenor falsetto was acceptable should drawn and Quartered. I have come perilously close to sticking a pencil through my eardrums with that shrill yap and it’s node harmonic cadence. He is nearing 80 and still dress like an immature kid with perms and the falseness of the modern world where graceful age is an anathema and the wise elders seen by boils like Kissinger as “useless eaters”. It’s pathetic.
    Your still alive Barry so prove me wrong with something actually Arion and Orpheus could have pride in. Melody Calliope and Terpsichore don’t even get out of their chair at a Bee Gee concert. If they claimed they were Folk musicians I could forgive it, because after 65 years of playing guitar Barry has never exceeded that level of musicianship as a guitar player, just bad songs jazzed up with technology and live concerts 90% taped recordings, that supposed “lovers” of music that couldn’t tell you what Cadence is nor name a note ( incidentally just like Barry. If he can sight read I’ll eat my head.) You get exactly what your lack of taste demands a constant flux of drivel and mentally benign crap.
    The guy on the radio was just Dictating how a Drummer that played for 65 years with the Rolling Stones that betrayed the actual founder when he was down was a great Jazz musician! Show me one recording pal! Just One recording where he trades fours with someone that can actually play. He was very ordinary drummer but he was a Mason and they lie like the lizard lord himself.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  9. anonymous
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    Sep 7th 2020 report

    A lyrical song written to make money and inspire wordy effluent dissertations by pompous English majors.

  10. anonymous
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    Dec 15th 2017 report

    I don't believe it was about religion but true life know matter what we think we are the joke and the whole world is laughing but when you to make a joke by humanity people or things they stand for people seem to cry and next you realized things that you said or don't say well you roll off your bed because you can't believe you're self and your ignorance and one day like all of us you will lying in your death bed rubbing your
    You should have done things
    Different way different and as drying you realize the joke was on you and the whole is laughing so as you take that last breath the only strength you have is to ol" no no it's a song about life

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  11. anonymous
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    May 8th 2017 report

    What?? I think if that is the bee gees meaning behind it they are sadly deluded by why Jesus was and is here. They've totally missed the point.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. altarlight
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    Mar 14th 2017 report

    Preface: In the wikipedia article, Robin and Barry comment that it had no particular meaning and that people will add their own meaning. That's what I'm doing here as a non-religious viewpoint alluding to religion and belief in the world with a religious and similar overtone:

    Some have postulated that Adam and Jesus (Bible) were both incarnations of the same person. In some texts it is intimated that Jesus is the same entity who created the world and also that his creation consisted of becoming the incarnate Adam. Creation, variously regarded as a wonder or a gift from a benevolent entity, is a cruel joke with its good side and bad side forever in contradiction, preventing peace from being seen.

    In that scenario, Jesus as the creator of the story, and also as the created Adam started a manifestation and world creation "joke". Initially, the joke is that the created world arises as the appearance of dividedness or separateness (i.e.-duality), which flies in the face of wholeness or oneness, non-dividedness, etc., ...the eternal reality.

    The re-incarnation of Adam as Jesus, sometimes referred to as the "second Adam", manifested to undo the desire syndrome which perpetuates duality, by telling the simple truth. Note that this truth is not the Christian tale or belief, nor is it that of any religion...but is the fact of literal oneness, buried beneath the outer manifestation cloak of appearances as the core reality or "truth".

    Jesus (or later so-called) as creator, started a joke by appearing as the manifest Adam, spinning off as Eve rib-born of neediness and desire in the attempt to reclaim the comfort of oneness while yet in duality, and yet instead perpetuating the discomfort and continuing on to set an entire world spinning...and crying from the burden of duality's inherent contradiction of pain and death proposed falsely as the culmination of life. Note that while we call activity in the world "living"...by definition, it actually is "dying". THIS IS THE JOKE.

    By re-manifesting and telling the truth that the reality is within and is unassailable and singular in nature, rather than divided and contradictory, conflicted, pained and dying...and that this indivisible wholeness is life...rather than what we perceive around us: IS THE UNDOING OF THE JOKE (or the forgiving of himself and his world-kin by showing the way out of the joke). The forgiving or undoing of the joke removes the need for crying and restores joyfulness. This inner truth is accessible by anyone (and was before Jesus was born), and one can allow its influence to strip away the intensity of contradictory dysfunction, and thereby realign the dreamed fantasy of this world of duality's appearances to its lowest common denominator: awareness of wholeness as literal oneness. Then when one dies, instead of finding it necessary to reincarnate to repair and restore and forgive and undo, one can simply return to the pre-creation, pre-manifestation reality (itself not a state because it is permanent). Jesus simply came to assist people in perpetuating this forgiving and undoing of the manifestation joke. As that new story is finally "grokked" (understood fully) by the world as this undoing of the joke grows in the world to its own reparative culmination, the creator(s) of the mundane world of duality die as the final judgment of the world of the "joke". Then those who were the world as the perpetuation of the joke, and thus crying, let the joke go, and are restored to the joyfulness of oneness that excludes and separates no one, and thus no one cries because no one dies (or goes through the painful process of dying that we call living).

    At the end of this cruelty (the needless comedy-tragedy journeying made necessary by telling or being party to the joke), the participant, whether Jesus or anyone else living the journey of prodigal separation, awakens and is bumped in the head of their mental activity...from things that they said (i.e.-the language of separateness, thinking and duality, with all its separated imagery).

    There is of course, more explanation needed as a backdrop to this scenario, but it is not given here. Suffice it to say that the so-called "answer" is within. However, since one is not really divided from the infinite reality, there is no "within" per se, and both questions and answers all reside within the world of duality as part of the problem or puzzle. So, the "answer" arises as no longer needing to ask questions because the clarity of whole knowledge precludes the sense of need and lack from which questions, and thus answers, arise.

  13. anonymous
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    Jan 29th 2014 report

    To me,the lyrics seem to suggest the life of Jesus Christ. Who, but Jesus Christ, has had the effect of making the whole world laugh and/or cry?? Many of us do believe that Jesus was a prophet, a rabbi, but not necessarily the messiah. Jesus, himself, may have been laboring under a delusion. He believed he must die as atonement for the rest of us sinners. But the God of the Torah found human sacrifice abominable, (even though the God of the Torah tested Abraham that way.) The God of the Torah is a hard task master and would not counsel another to sacrifice himself for the sins of someone else. The God of the Torah would make that sinner repent or pay.

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