The World I Know

Album: Collective Soul (1995)
Charted: 19
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  • Ed Roland worked to make it in music for more than a decade before forming Collective Soul in the early '90s with a group of younger musicians, including his brother, Dean. Their first single, "Shine," was an unexpected hit, sending them on a lengthy tour in 1994 that pulled them far from their hometown of Stockbridge, Georgia. Much of their second album was written on the road around this time, including "The World I Know." Roland came up the lyric when he went for a walk on a rare day off in New York City.

    "There was still some grit and dirt to New York City," he said in a Songfacts interview. "Especially around Times Square and Union Square back then. I literally walked out of the room, took a two-hour walk around New York, and just absorbed and observed from the highs and lows of what society was offering in the greatest city in the world.

    Back then, there were still homeless people living in cardboard boxes. Then, somebody pulled up in a nice limousine, with fur coats on, and walked right by.

    Just to be in that big city, I was looking at what the good was, what the bad was, but also, you don't know what good feels like until you feel bad. You don't know what bad feels like until you feel good. So, I was trying to use that whole imagery and using it with New York City as I walked around."
  • This is one of the few Collective Soul songs not credited entirely to Ed Roland. The band's guitarist, Ross Childress, is listed as a co-writer. The pair developed the song out of an instrumental piece Childress came up with.
  • This song has an amazingly expressive video to go with it. It's about a businessman becoming disillusioned with the world and impulsively deciding to kill himself, before being saved by a pigeon who lands on his arm and cheers him up right when he is about to jump. He also draws a comparison to the ants scurrying for crumbs and the people in the streets. He ends up tossing his money to the crowd below.

    Anyone pondering the Libertarian moral of the above story need look no further for the explanation than to band leader Ed Roland, confirmed Objectivist, who pulled the name of the band straight out of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead.

    Collective Soul took a hands-off approach to their videos, letting the directors do their thing. This one was helmed by Guy Guillet, who also did the "Fu-Gee-La" video for the Fugees.
  • The 1995 eponymous album Collective Soul is not to be confused with their 2009 album, which is also self-titled. However, the second one is unofficially nicknamed "Rabbit."
  • Thanks to airplay on rock radio, this became the third #1 for Collective Soul on the Billboard Album Rock chart, following "Shine" and "December." The song also crossed over to pop and adult contemporary playlists, pushing album sales to over 3 million in America.
  • In 2008, David Cook performed this song on the last day of competition on Season 7 of American Idol, where he faced off against David Archuleta. Judge Randy Jackson said he loved the song, and heaped praise on Cook's performance. Viewers agreed: He won the competition and his live performance was released as a single, going to #28 even though he only did the first verse and a chorus, for a running time of 2:12.
  • Ed Roland went through a phase of loathing the song and came close to re-recording it with new words. "Right at the end of recording, I for some reason had lost my mind and hated 'The World I Know,'" he told "I decided on the last day of recording that I would rewrite the lyrics and the melody and put it over the music bed to 'The World I Know.'"

    Fortunately, Collective Soul's engineer, Greg Archilla, talked some sense into him. "It's so funny to me that I was literally going to change that song that day, the last day, because we were getting ready to go on tour," Roland said.

Comments: 6

  • Chris from Germany The refrain of this song was later stolen by Christina Perri for her Jar Of Hearts
  • Brooks from Tallahassee, Fl, UsaCountless times this chorus has lifted my spirits immediately. There is something soothing about realizing that- hey, this is MY world. That’s good enough. It’s okay because it’s my story. Stories rise and fall. When you start to fall, laugh; that’s the best way to raise yourself up. Remember, somewhere up there is someone who thinks we are on the quantum level. And on and on.
  • Jeff from Beverly Hills, MaI just hear the acoustic version the Howard Stern show, and it's even better than the studio version. Great song.
  • Ever from Washington Dc, DcCollective Soul is an awesome band with deep lyrics and meanings. The man in the video realizes right before he jumps that he can give something back to the world and his existence means something. RE: the crumbs feeding the ants. Such a deep, soulful song.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InBeautiful song by this excellent band.
    The strings are nicely done, and I really liked the two guitars playing in unison to create a fascinating rhythm.
    Great singing, too.
  • Angie Langdon from Texas City, Txmy favorite by them! amazing
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