Angaleena Presley was raised in Beauty, Kentucky and attended college at Eastern Kentucky University. She moved to Nashville in 2000 where she landed a publishing deal nine months later. This song documents Presley's emotions about leaving Eastern Kentucky. "I was the dreamer of the bunch. All I ever wanted to do was go to the big city," she recalled to Billboard magazine. "But as I explored the big city, and the more I learned and places I went, I started to realize that there's not really a lot better than sitting on the porch breaking beans with my mom."
"There was such a rude awakening when I realized that the life that I had was awesome - and all I ever wanted to do was get away from it," Presley continued. "Once you move away, and realize there's a grocery store on every corner, you get soft and spoiled on the convenience of living in the city. Once you go away, you can't go back."
Presley told American Songwriter magazine that she considers this to be the best song that she's ever written. She explained: "It combines my background with my future. I'll always be a dream chaser, but I'll also never forget that there's no place like home. No matter how far I travel, no matter how many languages I learn or foods I taste, there won't ever be anything more satisfying than sitting on the front porch breaking beans with my mom. The redneck way of life is simply awesome."
The song title is a take on the phrase 'better red than dead,' which arose among nuclear disarmers in the 1950s. The peace demonstrators were expressing the view that it was better to live under communist domination than be exterminated. However, Presley uses an alternative definition of the word 'red' in order to pay tribute to the redneck way of life.
"It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" was inspired by a dream where Michael Stipe conjured up images of people with the initials L.B.: Lester Bangs, Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Leonard Bernstein.