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‘I Started a Joke’ by the Beegees – Classic Hit or Miss

Songs for the Idea album were completed on June 25. 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.

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?”

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