You see there's this cat burglar who can't see in the dark
He lays his bets on 8 more lives, walks into a bar
Slips on the 8 ball, falls on his knife
Says, "I don't know what I've done, but it doesn't feel right!"

Some things don't hold up over the course of a lifetime
When's the first time you heard that one, 1954?
Get to the punch line. fall to the floor

Give me a minute and I'll tell you the setup for
The worst joke ever, I never
I'll tell you my version of the greatest life story
Don't bore me

Now I am floating
I feel released
The moorings have been dropped
The weights unleashed
Everything is crystalline, simple and free

The crime of good men who can't wrestle with change
Or are too afraid to face this life's misjudged unknowns
You're not hurting anybody else's chances
But you're disfiguring your own

Give me a minute and I'll tell you the setup for
The worst joke ever, I never
I'll tell you my version of the greatest life story
Don't bore me, I never
Give me a minute and I'll tell you the setup

You see there's this feeling that I've heard this one before

Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings

"The Worst Joke Ever" as written by Mike Mills Peter Buck

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Worst Joke Ever song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commentwell reynard, bands have to change, they can't be expected to recreate the same album throughout their career. And to say you hate intellect is just underscoring your ignorance
    laocoonon April 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI liked the old lyrics I couldn't understand. Too bad they had to "change".
    Reynard Muldrakeon February 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat does 1954 signify in this song? Hydrogen bomb testing? McCarthy? Does this have a connection with the "cat burglar"?
    vinitleeon June 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe wrote another song about mccarthy "Exhuming Mccarthy" so its possible that's what it refers to I can't quite make the cat burglar connection but he's obviously drawing a line back to that opening verse
    laocoonon April 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about how big of a joke Dub-yah is, as with most of the songs on this album. After all, they rushed it's release to beat Dub-yah's reelection.
    pmac52188on February 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIm really starting to think im the only one who has any idea what this song is about...

    all the time we see people die, on tv, in the news, on the intertnet, and we all just laugh about it, never realizing that there's really someone there who died who had a life...

    seeing them die is the "worst joke ever" even though we dont know that they might have had "the greatest life story" that we completely miss.
    EvilVultureon September 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAll in all, I actually like Around The Sun, but I'll cede to the critics that either this song or High Speed Train are probably REM's worst.
    Nobody-specialon October 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd have to agree with EvilVulture in regards to the meaning of this song.

    I think "the worst joke ever" refers to the paradox of talented people who "make it big" but can't deal with their sudden success/fame and end up self-destructing.

    Many of Stipe's friends have met such a fate, ex: Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix and more recently, Heath Ledger.
    Lantaon August 16, 2010   Link
  • -1
    General CommentYou know, I'm really starting to loath liberal, intellectualist
    preaching with a flaming passion. And it seems like that's all Stipe can write.
    Reynard Muldrakeon February 15, 2005   Link

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