Song of the Day #3,869: ‘The Joke’ – Brandi Carlile

I spent all of my year-end energy on the movies the past couple of months, so I never got around to counting down my favorite songs of 2018.

Had I done so, much of my focus would have been on seven albums that really knocked my socks off last year: Elvis Costello’s Look Now, Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, Josh Rouse’s Love in the Modern Age, Pistol Annies’ Interstate Gospel, Camila Cabello’s Camila, Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour, and Brandi Carlile’s By the Way, I Forgive You.

And if I had to name a Song of the Year, off the top of my head I would go with Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Joke,’ which is up for four Grammys at this Sunday’s ceremony. Nice to see some good taste from the Grammys for a change.

‘The Joke’ is a “hang in there” anthem for the millions of us disillusioned by the Trump era, a battle cry against the insensitive, bullying menace personified by a red MAGA hat.

It could be maudlin or corny, but Carlile is capable of only complete, raw sincerity. She is a blindingly great songwriting and vocal talent, and this song is just the latest example.

[Verse 1]
You’re feeling nervous, aren’t you, boy?
With your quiet voice and impeccable style
Don’t ever let them steal your joy
And your gentle ways, to keep ’em from running wild
They can kick dirt in your face
Dress you down, and tell you that your place
Is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine
I see you tugging on your shirt
Trying to hide inside of it and hide how much it hurts

[Chorus]
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

[Verse 2]
You get discouraged, don’t you, girl?
It’s your brother’s world for a while longer
You gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream
Call it living the dream, call it kicking the ladder
They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared

[Chorus]
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

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

One thought on “Song of the Day #3,869: ‘The Joke’ – Brandi Carlile

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’m with you 100% on Carlile and this song. I hope she performs at the Grammy’s so she can reach a wider audience. I hope she wins too!

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