REM – It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

This song came off of the great Document album. With some REM songs it takes a few listens for me but this one… the first time was enough to know I really liked it. It was recorded in the Sound Emporium in Nashville, Tennessee. The song peaked at #69 in 1988. The song was inspired by  Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan and you can tell.

Michael Stipe said: “The words come from everywhere. I’m extremely aware of everything around me, whether I am in a sleeping state, awake, dream-state or just in day to day life. There’s a part in ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ that came from a dream where I was at Lester Bangs’ birthday party and I was the only person there whose initials weren’t L.B. So there was Lenny Bruce, Leonid Brezhnev, Leonard Bernstein… So that ended up in the song along with a lot of stuff I’d seen when I was flipping TV channels. It’s a collection of streams of consciousness.”   

From Songfacts.

Stipe claims to have a lot of dreams about the end of the world, destroyed buildings and the like. His stream-of-consciousness writing style in this is very similar to the way a dream moves.

This started off as a song called “Bad Day,” and had lyrics decrying the politics of the Reagan administration. R.E.M. finally released “Bad Day” on their 2003 hits compilation album, In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003.

When R.E.M. played this live, the audience reacted with a party vibe that threw off the band. They thought the apocalyptic lyrics would create a more subdued response.

Michael Stipe said that the lyrics were written to make people smile. The words he used tend to make your mouth smile when you speak them. >>

In the last verse, the line, “The other night I tripped at Knox” refers to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where the band had a night of fun.

This appears in the movies Dream A Little DreamIndependence DayTommy Boy and Chicken Little>>

The government of the Soviet Union allowed this to appear on a 1990 Greenpeace album that was distributed there.

Billy Joel had a huge hit two years later when he used the rapid-vocal, stream of consciousness lyric style on “We Didn’t Start The Fire.”

This appeared in an episode of The Simpsons when Homer and Moe are fighting about Moe’s new bar. Homer opens his own bar in his garage and then lies to REM about why they are playing there. >>

Brett Anderson, lead singer of the all-girl band The Donnas, told Rolling Stone magazine that she is an “R.E.M. geek” and can recite all of the lyrics to the song.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, and aeroplanes
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs,
Don’t mis-serve your own needs
Speed it up a notch, speed, grunt, no, strength,
The ladder starts to clatter
With a fear of height, down, height
Wire in a fire, represent the seven games
And a government for hire and a combat site
Left her, wasn’t coming in a hurry
With the Furies breathing down your neck

Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do, save yourself, serve yourself
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

Six o’clock, T.V. hour, don’t get caught in foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform, book burning, bloodletting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crush, uh oh
This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline

It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)
I feel fine (I feel fine)

It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

The other night I drifted nice continental drift divide
Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right, right

It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

10 thoughts on “REM – It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

    1. It was when I was getting into Lenny Bruce…or reading about him so yes that stood out. I like those stream of conscious songs…if they are not forced…and this one isnt.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yep, but Stipe soldiered through it every show I saw…usually the finale (and I am a big fan so I saw them quite a few times therefore!) Also strikes me ‘life is a rock’ by Reunion probably influenced his vocals on this song.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Jim Carey did a great job with that role. It was so shocking when Andy passed away so young.
        Of course I’m a Taxi fan also…anything seventies lol.

        Liked by 1 person

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