Rod Stewart – I Was Only Joking

Of all the Stewart songs from 1976 and after this one may be my favorite.

Rod Stewart co-wrote this with guitarist Gary Grainger.

The Susie alluded to herein was known as Susannah Boffey when she met him as a 17-year-old art student in 1961. At the time, he was an unknown Roderick Stewart. In 1963, she gave birth to his daughter who was fostered out and eventually adopted by a wealthy couple from East Sussex.

Sarah had contact with Rod in the 80s but the two were not close. In 2010, Sarah Streeter was finally admitted to her father’s family, but she has had an on and off again relationship with her birth mother.

Rod’s daughter Sarah in the eighties…and Stewart and Susannah Boffey in the ealry sixties.

Rod Stewart's love child reveals she's reconciled with rocker after kicking  her drug addiction - Mirror OnlineRod Stewart in the early 1960s with Susannah Boffey the mother of Sarah Streeter their daughter

I Was Only Joking was off of the Foot Loose & Fancy Free album released in 1977. The song peaked at #22 in the Billboard 100, #56 in Canada, #5 in the UK, and #35 in New Zealand.

From Songfacts

 Although it is intensely personal, this is a song with which any man of a certain age will identify, especially one who has failed to live up to his potential, lost the love of his life, or screwed up big time. And surely most of us can fill at least one of those categories.

Although written from a male perspective, most women too could say the same. By the time he recorded “I Was Only Joking,” Stewart was already an A-list performer; he would go on to amass a fortune of over $200 million, yet even the mega-successful have regrets.

“I Was Only Joking” alludes too to alcohol, which was only one of the substances he imbibed along the way. Drugs and alcohol are of course an occupational hazard for successful rock musicians due to the lifestyle.

The radio edit runs to 4 minutes 50 seconds while the album version runs to a full 6 minutes 7 seconds. Released as a double-A-side single with “Hot Legs,” it reached #5 in the UK. 

I Was Only Joking

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

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

52 thoughts on “Rod Stewart – I Was Only Joking”

  1. What a treat, Max. I’ve always loved his music. Thank you for sharing this. I think my favorite is Handbags and Gladrags. Did you ever hear the version of Old Man River he did with Jeff Beck? Absolute classic. I wish I could find it to add to my play list.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Early seventies Rod could not be beat…I love that stuff. Every Picture Tells a Story and yea Gandbags and Gladrags. That is the era I love the most….Yes Old Man River was off the album Truth…great great album!

      I Was Only Joking is probably my favorite later Stewart…but yea those early Stewart – Faces songs could not be beat.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes… I forgot all about that. Rick I believe he had either throat or thyroid cancer in the late 90s…they had to operate and he didn’t know if he would ever sing again. He has a one of a kind voice.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You have some great musical tastes Rick…

      off-topic but I promised you something a while back. My son goes to college in Clarksville TN now so…if you ever want a picture of anything there just say the word.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That is a good one… it’s up there with my Rod favorites too. I would have bet money it did better than #56 in Canada. anyway, glad you reminded us of it, a 70s track heard too seldom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Usually Canada is right with the US on rankings so that surprised the hell out of me…that was in Wiki though so it could be wrong. We have said this before but I do wish Canada would have a better site for rankings…like Billboard does with the US hits. …not so convoluted… it’s a chore to track a peak at times.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. Hmm, retirement project for Dave, LOL?
        Mind you, if it was released on same 7″ as “Hot Legs” maybe that confused the tabulation since some stations played one, others the other, some stations both… like some of those Beatles singles wehre both sides charted.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. YES…that would be a nifty little project. On some singles it was the B side but on others I think Born Loose was the B side to I Was Only Joking.


  3. Rod Stewart is a great singer. I love him. He has become a love him or hate him artist to a lot of people; a contemporary to Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr., Ray LaMontagne, Michael McDonald…I don’t mind that. I like those artist, though I like era singers that they emulate more. But to me, Rod Stewart is one of the great rock singers. If he were born in, oh, I don’t know…Big Spring, Texas…he would have been a great Western singer, in New York City, he would have been a street corner, doo wop singer who went on to sell millions of records. Or something like that. The guy can just sing.


    1. Cinematography/Video Production…of course he is getting a degree in case that doesn’t work.
      Many companies now have a video department so that helps his chances

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember my x girlfriend getting that Rod Boxset from Xmas back in 88 or 89? I should have stolen it when we hit the skids as I was the one who bought it. lol
    In saying that by the end of the 80s he had a huge career now 30 years on Rod is still out there.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Tomorrow night live stream at 7 pm EST. Brent Jensen is our guest. Podcaster and Author. All things music. Hope you can join in watching. If not it will be on youtube.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You know I will if I’m here dude….you have a loyal fan here. One day when you are syndicated I can say….I remember when!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you!…he is about to house sit a friend’s of mine house…they live on a 30 acre farm…maybe larger. He is going to go around filming a lot while he is there…but he also has horses to feed and other things to take care of…


  5. I miss old school rod stewart. He was the best. I loved everything up until the late 80’s early 90’s and then I haven’t really listened to him in forever. I need to go back to that early stuff again. This is a great track.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Have always loved Rod Stewart. It’s kind of interesting that he’d write such a confessional song relatively early in his career. This seems more like a song he would have done in the late 80s or early 90s, when his music turned more mellow and reflective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is painfully truthful. I didn’t know about this until I wrote this up…I’ve been hearing the song since 77 and actually played it on stage before and didn’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

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