"I Was Only Joking" as written by Gary Grainger and Rod Stewart....
Ever since I was a kid in school
I messed around with all the rules
Apologized, then realized
I'm not different after all

Me and the boys thought we had is sussed
Valentino's all of us
My dad said we looked ridiculous
But, boy, we broke some hearts

In and out of jobs, running free
Waging war with society
Dumb, blank faces stared back at me
But nothing ever changed

Promises made in the heat of night
Creepin' home before it got too light
I wasted all that precious time
And blamed it on the wine

I was only joking, my dear
Looking for a way to hide my fear
What kind of fool was I?
I could never win

Never found a compromise
Collected lovers like butterflies
Illusions of that grand first prize
Are slowly wearin' thin
Susie, baby, you were good to me
Giving love unselfishly
But you took it all too seriously
I guess it had to end

I was only joking, my dear
Looking for a way to hide my fear
What kind of fool was I?
I could never win

Now you ask me if I'm sincere
That's the question that I always fear
Verse seven is never clear
But I'll tell you what you want to hear
I try to give you all you want
But giving love is not my strongest point
If that's the case, it's pointless going on
I'd rather be alone

'Cause what I'm doing must be wrong
Pouring my heart out in a song
Owning up for prosperity
For the whole damn world to see

Quietly now while I turn a page
Act one is over without costume change
The principal would like to leave the stage
The crowd don't understand

Lyrics submitted by spliphstar

"I Was Only Joking" as written by Rod Stewart Gary Grainger

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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I Was Only Joking song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI remember when this album was released, it came with a booklet that had drawings to coincide with each song. The drawing for I was Only Joking, was of a high school hallway, with a boy looking down as if in shame, and a young girl with an obviously pregnant stomach. In that regard I always took it as him getting the girl pregnant, after probably confessing he loved her, but he was only joking. The last verse with the Principal ties it back into the high school theme of the drawing.

    As to the question of verse 7, I really have no idea, however "Corinthians 7 contains some of the clearest teaching in the Bible concern­ing abstinence before marriage, celibacy, sexual intercourse inside and outside of marriage, and sexual obligations. The people of Corinth were interested in proper sexual behavior and had written to the Apostle Paul about it." (truthortradition.com/…) Again it seems to tie back in with a high school pregnancy....
    chrisg19on June 21, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a cool song, for me it talks about growing up and rebelling - not taking things seriously - things like love and life. Its hard to come to a point in life after somany years and try to make people understand - how can you sum up somany years of rebelling from one thing to another.
    nkjpandyaon April 17, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with the above, but I also feel in this song Rod is giving a brief history of his life as a minor rebel, and saying to a girlfriend or partner that he's not ready for setteling down... Not that he does not love her, just not as much as she loves him, so where's the point in wasting more time, bow out graciously!
    masonx117on June 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about loneliness. Finding out that you're never quite going to fit in, so you pretend that you were joking to make yourself less vulnerable. It's about trying to make a connection, at home, in school, in relationships, on stage, and realizing that you always end up alone, pretending it was a joke so you wouldn't have to admit how much it hurt.
    melcantspellon May 24, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExcellent comments. I can only add that the line 'illusions of that grand first prize are slowly wearing thin' seem to be his admission that his inability to give love is what will keep him from the altar - it's about marriage and how he knows it will escape him. Some of the best lyrics I have ever
    StreetSenseon June 07, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have to admit that most of Rod Stewart's lyrics whether he personally wrote them or not most of the time make perfectly good sense or at least easily understood for the most part. I truly like this song I remember seeing Rod on the Midnight Special back in the day and I noticed one of the few times I ever saw him playing guitar.With that being said does anybody know what was meant by: Verse seven is never clear?
    markfaceson July 06, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI remember this song as a kid and I always thought this song was biographical. He'd enjoyed a well-documented classic 70s rock and roll groupie life, going from city to city "collecting lovers like butterflies" and I think by the time he wrote this, that lifestyle was "wearing thin", he was burned out on casual sex and it was time to move on to the next phase of his life. This is supported by the fact that the song was released in 1978 and in 1979 he married his first wife, Alana.

    Though I like the interpretations of "verse 7" here, I think it's just a clever way for him to say he doesn't even know if he's capable of being sincere anymore, so he defaults to telling you "what you you want to hear."
    pablo10000on April 26, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor me I has always interpreted this song as he was contemplating suicide (the person he is singing about not necessarily himself). The song is metaphor laden with disappointment, unfilled dreams, fears, and generally being misunderstood in every verse right up to the last verse.

    In the last verse is where he is saying...

    "Quietly now while I turn a page Act one is over without costume change"

    Nothing has changed and he is still stuck in this life which hasn't turned out the way he wanted.

    "The principal would like to leave the stage"
    He is the principal (metaphor for the main character in song) and he wants to end his life (leave the stage)

    "The crowd don't understand"
    How most people who want to commit suicide feel.
    HeadScratcheron November 22, 2016   Link

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