The End of the World (Skeeter Davis song)

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"The End of the World"
Reissue single cover
Single by Skeeter Davis
from the album Skeeter Davis Sings The End of the World
B-side"Somebody Loves You", "Blueberry Hill"
ReleasedDecember 1962
RecordedJune 8, 1962
StudioRCA Studio B, Nashville
GenreCountry pop
LabelRCA Victor
Producer(s)Chet Atkins
Skeeter Davis singles chronology
"The Little Music Box"
"The End of the World"
"I'm Saving My Love"

"The End of the World" is a pop song written by composer Arthur Kent and lyricist Sylvia Dee, who often worked as a team. They wrote the song for American singer Skeeter Davis, and her recording of it was highly successful in the early 1960s, reaching the top five on four different charts, including No. 2 on the main Billboard Hot 100. It spawned many cover versions.


"The End of the World" is a sad song about the aftermath of a romantic breakup. Dee, the lyricist, said she drew on her sorrow from her father's death to set the mood for the song.

Davis recorded her version with sound engineer Bill Porter on June 8, 1962, at the RCA Studios in Nashville, produced by Chet Atkins, and featuring Floyd Cramer.[1] Released by RCA Records in December 1962, "The End of the World" peaked in March 1963 at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (behind "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby & the Romantics), No. 2 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart,[2] No. 1 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart, and No. 4 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart.[3] It is the first, and, to date, only time that a song cracked the Top 10 (and Top 5) on all four Billboard charts.[4] Billboard ranked the record as the No. 2 song of 1963.

In the Davis version, after she sings the whole song through in the key of B-flat-major, the song modulates up by a half step to the key of B, where Davis speaks the first two lines of the final stanza, before singing the rest of the stanza, ending the song.

"The End of the World" was played at Atkins' funeral in an instrumental by Marty Stuart. The song was also played at Davis's own funeral at the Ryman Auditorium. Her version has been featured in several films, TV shows, and video games (see "Appearances in media" below).

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1963) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 32
UK Singles Chart[5] 18
US Billboard Hot 100 2
US Billboard Hot Country Singles 2
US Billboard Hot R&B Singles 4
US Billboard Easy Listening[6] 1
US Cash Box Top 100 2
US Cash Box Country Singles 2

Sonia version[edit]

"End of the World"
Single by Sonia
from the album Everybody Knows
B-side"Can't Help the Way That I Feel"
Released13 August 1990
Songwriter(s)Arthur Kent, Sylvia Dee
Producer(s)Stock, Aitken & Waterman
Sonia singles chronology
"You've Got a Friend"
"End of the World"
"Only Fools (Never Fall in Love)"

In 1990, English singer Sonia covered "End of the World". The fifth and final single from her debut album, Everybody Knows, it reached number 18 in the UK,[7] the same chart position as the original, and number 18 too in Ireland.[8] The single's B-side "Can't Help the Way That I Feel" also appeared on Sonia's debut album. This was her final single with Stock Aitken Waterman. Stock Aitken Waterman had previously produced an R&B-style cover of the song in 1985 for band Brilliant.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

David Giles of Music Week praised this version as being a "polished" cover and "a bid for sophistication from the SAW prodigy [Sonia]", and deemed it would top the UK chart.[10]


1990 weekly chart performance for "End of the World"
Chart (1990) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts)[11] 153
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[12] 53
Ireland (IRMA)[8] 18
UK Singles (OCC)[7] 18

Other notable versions[edit]

The song was recorded by Julie London in 1963 on her album of the same name.

During the summer of 1966, Swedish pop group Mike Wallace & The Caretakers [sv] recorded the song.[13] Released as a single in August of that year, it was backed by the song "Whitsand Bay" written by Wallace, based on the tourist destination he'd often visited.[14] It became a hit on Tio i Topp, entering the chart on August 6, 1966, at a position of number five.[15] It topped the chart on August 27, staying on the top for a week.[15] It exited the chart on October 29, at a position of number 14, having spent 13 weeks on the chart.[15] On sales chart Kvällstoppen, it entered on August 16, 1966, at a position of 18.[16] It would reach its peak of number two on September 6, being kept off the top by the Beatles "Yellow Submarine".[16] It exited on November 8, at a position of 18, having spent 13 weeks on the chart.[16]

To capitalize on the Caretakers version, Anna-Lena Löfgren recorded the song in Swedish, as "Allt är förbi",[17] scoring a Svensktoppen hit for seven weeks between 9 October–19 November 1966.[18]

In 1985, Stock Aitken Waterman produced an R&B-style cover of the song for band Brilliant,[9] which was released as a single in the UK in November 1986. Jerry Smith of the Music Week magazine praised this "radical" cover version for its "very polished" production and "its all round appeal" and deemed "it should make an impression".[19] However, the single failed to chart.

A version by Allison Paige peaked at number 72 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in May 2000.[20]

The Dot Wiggin Band released a cover of "End of the World" as the last song on their album Ready! Get! Go! (2013), which Shintaro Sakamoto opined "actually sounds like the end of the world."[21]

Appearances in media[edit]


  1. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 10 – Tennessee Firebird: American country music before and after Elvis. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944–2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 180.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 147.
  4. ^ ""The End of the World" – Skeeter Davis: 1963". The Pop History Dig.
  5. ^ "SKEETER DAVIS | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 73.
  7. ^ a b "Sonia: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 September 2023.
  8. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – End of the World". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Brilliant | The End Of The World (Extended Mix) | Discogs". 1986. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  10. ^ Giles, David (August 18, 1990). "Singles" (PDF). Music Week. p. 25. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  11. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 2014-06-17". Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  12. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. September 22, 1990. p. IV-V. Retrieved September 6, 2023 – via World Radio History.
  13. ^ "The Caretakers - The End Of The World". svenskpophistoria. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  14. ^ Stål, Jonas (2013). Stora Popboxen (Svensk Pop 1964-1969 Volume 1) – liner notes (CD) (in Swedish). Premium.
  15. ^ a b c Hallberg, Eric; Henningsson, Ulf (1998). Eric Hallberg, Ulf Henningsson presenterar Tio i topp med de utslagna på försök: 1961 - 74. Premium Publishing. p. 451. ISBN 919727125X.
  16. ^ a b c Hallberg, Eric (1993). Eric Hallberg presenterar Kvällstoppen i P 3: Sveriges radios topplista över veckans 20 mest sålda skivor 10. 7. 1962 - 19. 8. 1975. Drift Musik. p. 230. ISBN 9163021404.
  17. ^ "Låt oss tro". Swedish Mediadatabase. 1966. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  18. ^ "Svensktoppen" (in Swedish). Sveriges radio. 1966. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  19. ^ Smith, Jerry (November 15, 1986). "Singles" (PDF). Music Week. p. 25. Retrieved September 8, 2023 – via World Radio History.
  20. ^ Bronson, Fred (May 13, 2000). "Country Is Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood". Billboard. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  21. ^ Sakamoto, Shintaro (December 2014). "Shintaro Sakamoto". Artforum. Retrieved October 12, 2023.
  22. ^ Phares, Heather. "Girl, Interrupted OriginaL Soundtrack". AllMusic. Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  23. ^ Webster, Andrew (November 9, 2015). "The best part of Fallout 4 is the music". The Verge. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  24. ^ Levinson, Paul (November 2, 2009). "Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World". Retrieved November 2, 2009.
  25. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Afternoon Drama, Pandemic". October 11, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  26. ^ "The Queen's Gambit Soundtrack Is Gloriously '60s". Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  27. ^ Pearis, Bill (September 14, 2017). "Patti Smith played the 'Mother!' premiere @ Radio City, plays SummerStage tonight (win tix!)". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  28. ^ Percival, Ash (November 22, 2017). "Denise Welch Exclusively Premieres Her Mental Health Short Film, 'Black Eyed Susan'". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 17, 2022.