The Joke

Album: By The Way, I Forgive You (2017)
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Brandi Carlile wrote "The Joke" as a comment on the sociopolitical climate following the 2016 US presidential election.

    Let 'em laugh while they can
    Let 'em spin, let 'em scatter in the wind
    I have been to the movies, I've seen how it ends
    And the joke's on them


    Carlile explained to NPR that "there are so many people feeling misrepresented. So many people feeling unloved. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal."
  • Producer Dave Cobb encouraged Carlile to be vocally ambitious on this track. The singer explained to Billboard:

    Dave Cobb loves [Presley's] 'An American Trilogy' and wanted me to understand the emotion and intensity Elvis put into it when we were working on 'The Joke.'"
  • This won the Grammy Award for Best American Roots Song at the 2019 ceremony, where Carlile also performed the song. By The Way, I Forgive You also won for Best Americana Album.
  • The 2019 Right Behind You American Express ad features a little girl playing this song on her violin.
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Comments: 1

  • Loretta from ArkansasWow! So powerful and so inspiring. Thank you for the music, Brandi. You're a national treasure.
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