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

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"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
Block text in all capitals spell out "R.E.M" in large black letters against a light background; under the band's name is a horizontal line spanning the width of the cover; under the line are four lines of purple text in a font half the height of the font used for the band's name. The four lines: IT'S THE END/OF THE WORLD/AS WE KNOW IT/(AND I FEEL FINE).
Cover of the USA 7" release
Single by R.E.M.
from the album Document
B-side"Last Date"
ReleasedNovember 16, 1987 (1987-11-16)
Format
Recorded1987
StudioSound Emporium, Nashville, Tennessee
Genre
Length
  • 4:04 (album version)
  • 3:29 (single version)
LabelI.R.S.
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
R.E.M. singles chronology
"The One I Love"
(1987)
"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
(1987)
"Finest Worksong"
(1988)

"Radio Song"
(1991)

"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
(1991)

"Drive"
(1992)
Audio sample

"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" is a song by American rock band R.E.M., which first appeared on their 1987 album Document. It was released as a single in November 1987, reaching No. 69 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and later reaching No. 39 on the UK Singles Chart on its re-release in December 1991.

The song originated from a previously unreleased song called "PSA" ("Public Service Announcement"); the two are very similar in melody and tempo. "PSA" was itself later reworked and released as a single in 2003, under the title "Bad Day". In an interview with Guitar World magazine published in November 1996, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck agreed that "End of the World" was in the tradition of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues".[4]

Lyrics[edit]

Leonid Brezhnev is referenced among a quartet of individuals with the initials "L.B."

The track is known for its quick flying, seemingly stream of consciousness rant with a number of diverse references, such as a quartet of individuals with the initials "L.B.": Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs.[5] In a 1990s interview with Musician magazine, R.E.M.'s lead singer Michael Stipe claimed that the "L.B." references came from a dream he had in which he found himself at a party surrounded by famous people who all shared those initials. "The words come from everywhere." Stipe explained to Q Magazine in 1992. "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, 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."[6]

The song was included on the 2001 Clear Channel memorandum of songs thought to be "lyrically questionable" after the September 11 terrorist attacks.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

The song was played repeatedly for a 24-hour period (with brief promos interspersed) to introduce the new format for WENZ 107.9 FM "The End", a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio in 1992. When the station underwent a new format change in 1996, they again played the song in 24-hour loop. There was a documentary film made about the station entitled The End of the World As We Knew It, released in 2009 which featured many of the former staffers and jocks.[7][8][9]

The song was featured in several satirical videos on YouTube, in connection with the prediction of radio pastor Harold Camping of Family Radio, that the world would end on May 21, 2011 (with earthquakes rolling around the world in each time zone; "that's great, it starts with an earthquake". A Philadelphia radio station formerly owned by Camping stunted its new format by repeatedly playing the song.) Also, before the supposed Mayan apocalypse on December 21, 2012, sales for the song jumped from 3,000 to 19,000 copies for the week.[10] Alternative radio station CFEX-FM in Calgary, Alberta, Canada stunted by playing the song all day on December 21, 2012, interspersed with "Get to Know a Mayan" and "Apocalypse Survival Tips" segments.[11]

Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the song received an increase in downloads and streaming in March 2020 alongside other apocalypse and sickness themed songs.[12] Online downloads of the song rose 184 percent and streams rose 48 percent.[13]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by James Herbert, who worked with the band on several other videos in the late 1980s. It depicts a teenage skateboarder, Noah Ray,[14] in a cluttered room of an abandoned, half-collapsed farmhouse. As he rummages through the junk, which includes several band pictures and flyers, he shows off various toys and items to the camera and plays with a dog that wanders into the house. As the video ends, he goes shirtless and starts performing skateboard tricks while still inside the room.

Track listing[edit]

Initial release[edit]

  • "7: IRS IRM 145 (UK):
  1. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:04
  2. "This One Goes Out" (live acoustic version of "The One I Love") – 4:19
  • "7: IRS IRS-53220 (US); cassette: IRS IRSC-53220:
  1. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:04
  2. "Last Date" (Floyd Cramer cover) – 2:13
  • "12: IRS IRMT 145:
  1. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:04
  2. "This One Goes Out" (live acoustic version of "The One I Love") – 4:19
  3. "Maps and Legends" (live acoustic)
  • "12 Promo: IRS 7363 (US):
  1. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:04
  2. "Disturbance at the Heron House (Live from cassette 5.24.87 McCabes Guitar Shop)" – 3:41

Re-issue[edit]

  • CD: IRS DIRMT 180:
  1. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:04
  2. "Radio Free Europe" – 4:03
  3. "The One I Love" (Live Acoustic) – 4:19
  • CD: IRS DIRMX 180:
  1. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:04
  2. "Radio Free Europe" (Hib-Tone version) – 3:46
  3. "White Tornado" – 1:59
  4. "Last Date" – 2:13
  • "7: IRS IRM 180; cassette: IRS DIRMC 180:
  1. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:04
  2. "Radio Free Europe" – 4:03

Personnel[edit]

R.E.M.

Charts[edit]

1987/1991 sales chart performance of "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
Chart (1987/1991) Peak position
Italy Singles Chart 16[15]
France SNEP 12[8]
Australia Singles Chart Kent Music Report 4[8]
Irish Singles Chart 22[note 1]
UK Singles Chart 39[note 2]
US Billboard Hot 100 69
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 16
2020 sales chart performance of "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
Chart (2020) Peak position
US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)[16] 4
UK Download (Official Charts Company)[17] 46
  1. ^ Only charted in 1991 after the song's re-release.
  2. ^ The single originally reached No. 87 in the UK. It reached No. 39 in 1991 upon re-release.

Certifications[edit]

Sales certifications for "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] Silver 200,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Cover versions[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schlansky, Evan (October 8, 2019). "What is the Meaning of R.E.M., "Losing My Religion"". American Songwriter. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  2. ^ The Los Angeles Times: 20 Essential R.E.M. Songs Retrieved October 5, 2015
  3. ^ "R.E.M.HQ: Albums". Remhq.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  4. ^ "YuppiePunk » Podcast #8: List Songs". Yuppiepunk.org. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  5. ^ Ventre, Michael (October 29, 2005). "Turn up the volume and cast your vote: Songs to inspire you for Election Day 2004". Today.com. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
  6. ^ "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M." Songfacts.com. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Wendt, Michael (June 14, 2008), The End of the World as We Knew It, retrieved March 12, 2016
  8. ^ a b c Olszewski, Mike (January 1, 2003). Radio Daze: Stories from the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars. Kent State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87338-773-6.
  9. ^ "Doomsday facts". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  10. ^ "Non-Apocalypse Spurs Sales (Up 612%), Airplay Gains For R.E.M.'s 'End Of The World'". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  11. ^ "Calgary Radio Station X92.9 Plays 'It's The End Of The World' By R.E.M. All Day To Mark Mayan Calendar". Huffington Post. AOL. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  12. ^ Zellner, Xander (March 17, 2020). "'It's the End of the World as We Know It,' 'I Will Survive' & More Songs Surge in the Time of Coronavirus". Billboard. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  13. ^ "Sales of R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It" & other songs jump amid COVID-19". ABC News Radio. March 17, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  14. ^ Thompson, Jim. "Video takes local kid's life for a turn". Online Athens: REM in the hall. Athens Banner-Herald. Archived from the original on January 16, 2010. Retrieved January 16, 2010.
  15. ^ The Notorious Stuart Brothers. "A Date With Peter Buck". Bucketfull of Brains. December 1987.
  16. ^ "R.E.M. Chart History (Hot Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  17. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  18. ^ "British single certifications – REM – It's the End of the World as We Know It". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 30, 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type It's the End of the World as We Know It in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  19. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  20. ^ Ableson, Jon. "Chris Carrabba To Release "Covered In The Flood" Solo Album". Alter The Press!. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  21. ^ "BuffettNews.com • View topic – Buffett Covers R.E.M." Buffettnews.com. Retrieved November 7, 2014.