When The World Ends

Songfacts®:

  • In this apocalyptic love song, Dave Matthews makes plans to watch the end times with his special someone, imagining them viewing it all from a distance while they get closer together. Matthews says he came up with the lyric in a five-minute burst, improvising random thoughts about what he could be doing as the world ends.
  • 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."
  • The Everyday album was released on February 27, 2001, with "I Did It" and "The Space Between" issued as the first two singles. "When The World Ends" was slated to be the third single, but the September 11 terrorist attacks put an end to that. The uplifting "Everyday" was issued instead - a far more appropriate song for the time.
  • Simulating a hard stop to life on Earth, this song cuts off abruptly in the middle of a word as Matthews sings, "We'll just be begin..."

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