Matthews wrote this song with his producer, Glen Ballard
, who came into the DMB fold when sessions for the album, which they were working on with producer Steve Lillywhite, ground to a halt, with the band creatively drained and not making progress. After pounding away at it for about six months, Matthews decided to start fresh with a completely new set of songs. To get a new perspective, he left the comfortable confines of the band's Charlottesville, Virginia, studio and went to Los Angeles to work with Ballard, who was most famous for producing and co-writing Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill
, but had been making hits since the '80s, with #1 songs recorded by Michael Jackson ("Man In The Mirror
") and Wilson Phillips ("Hold On
This one-on-one songwriting was a new approach for Matthews, who would typically develop songs with his band members, often refining them through live performances. Ballard is a very focused and efficient writer with a talent for spotting an artist's distinctive point of view and drawing that out in the songs. The collaboration worked; 12 songs flowed out of them in about 10 days. "When The World Ends" is one of Matthews' favorites from the batch. "Its character is a little more like the band's character, in that there's some odd meter and phrasing in there," he told Ed Doheny. "But then it's also a really catchy phrase."