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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
A psychoSONGanalysis by
psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT
Song: I Started a Joke
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When the Bee Gees Were Three
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Human beings have a knack for judgment problems stemming from a delusion that a particular action may be committed without any anticipated consequences. For cognitive psychologists, this is an example of a faulty or irrational thought, that manifests itself in dysfunctional behavior.
For the psychoanalytical psychologist, this is an example of the manifestation of a wish to return to the protective environment of the womb. Life itself is not quite so protected. We act, and there are consequences, sometimes pleasant, sometimes undesirable, and sometimes unbearable. Sometimes the immediate consequence is pleasurable, but, in the long term, our actions lead to utter misery.
I Started a Joke shatters the delusion of behavior that is immune from consequences. The song is all about a chain of events that get started with a seemingly innocent, ostensibly harmless joke. It's about unintended consequence, and regret.
I started a joke, which started the whole world crying,Jokes are meant to make people laugh. Apparently this one had the opposite effect on the world. The world wasn't laughing with him, the world wasn’t laughing at him. The world was crying.
Words said casually, or in jest, have a peculiar way of backfiring.
I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing,The unexpected result of the joke--that of crying, seems to have produced tears in the joke-teller in this song/story---tears born of deep regret.
I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes,Were the cruel words said in the midst of a drunken state? Was the rude awakening by regret accompanied by a hang-over? This is story that wax poetic, in the greatest sense of the term. So we don't know just how literal, or how figurative to take the lyrics. That's what's so great about the song. It leaves room for imagination, and for many questions about what just happened.
Til I finally died, which started the whole world living,The theme of comedy-turned-to-tragedy is powerfully re-introduced in these last lines. Regret rears it's ugly head once again, and we are dragged into the song writer's mournful abyss.
I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes,There's a lesson to be gathered here. If you're going to tell a joke, make sure it really is a joke, and not a knife in disguise. Second, make sure the joke is funny. And, finally, don't start a joke, unless you can finish it with the world laughing, While you're at it, make sure the world is laughing with you, not at you :)