This song written by The Bee Gees in 1968 has captured my imagination since I first heard it. The words jump off the page and makes me think but listening to the Bee Gees performance of it is a greater experience. The falsetto is like a whine of helplessness by a lost person or generation. It is beautiful in its hopelessness. There is a sense of loss that can never be recaptured. Yet I have to admit that despite my addiction to this song and its hidden truth it bemoans I really don't know what the hell they are talking or rather singing, about. Perhaps it was prophetic about their own lives.
Being part of "The Silent Generation" which gave birth to "The Baby Boomers" I experienced both the Beatniks and Hippies which I believed were only an older version of the Bohemian's. This song could be about lost generations. Jack Kerouac in his book talked of the Beat Generation yet in later years bemoaned the fact that what he envisioned as "Beat" was perverted and changed. Some time in the 1960's came the Hippie generation with the great gatherings in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco in 1967 and Woodstock, Sullivan County, New York Aug. 15-18, 1969.
All these movements wanted a peaceful, less constrained world which would lead to a freer more creative society. But these movements lost their way and were taken over by those who concentrated on communal living within a drug community while rejecting the basic tenants of the western world. Could "I Started A Joke" be lamenting the lost generations which have morphed into Gen X and Y who has spawned people who only ask "Where's mine?" without having to contribute anything to get "theirs". They just expected to have it handed to them.
Or could this song be applicable to any person? Let's say Charlie Sheen. Here is a guy who seemed to be a run-away train who is headed for disaster. He kept saying he is in control yet he seemed out of control affecting everyone and anyone who he touched. Look over the words of this song listed above, could it be moaning over a personal self destruction? Could they be talking about you? Could they be talking about me? Or is this just a creation of art which doesn't have to be talking about anything its creator thought but it inspires those who experience the art to greater thoughts and an inspired life? Whatever, it is a great song that gets my thoughts process working. Does it do that for you?