I Know The End

Songfacts®:

  • "I Know The End" began life as a breakup song written by Phoebe Bridgers with her touring drummer and ex-boyfriend, Marshall Vore, about the end of their relationship. They started it around the same time as "I See You," another Punisher track about their split.
  • The original lyric was about Bridgers' depression following their breakup. However, her heartbreak turned into a tour-related depression, so the songstress reworked the track, transforming it into a metal song about driving away to northern California where her grandparents used to live.

    Bridgers inserted an apocalyptic outro, which represented the undercurrent of doom that she was feeling. It climaxes with an almighty scream. She told Apple Music:

    "This is a bunch of things I had on my to-do list: I wanted to scream; I wanted to have a metal song; I wanted to write about driving up the coast to Northern California, which I've done a lot in my life. It's like a super specific feeling. This is such a stoned thought, but it feels kind of like purgatory to me, doing that drive, just because I have done it at every stage of my life, so I get thrown into this time that doesn't exist when I'm doing it, like I can't differentiate any of the times in my memory. I guess I always pictured that during the apocalypse, I would escape to an endless drive up north."
  • Bridgers abstracts the breakup story by paralleling it with America's heartache. She explained to The Forty Five the references to bolts of lightning, and billboards that say "the end is near" in the song's stormbound climax are "just political. Like, in the United States, there are still children being detained at the border. I just was like, humanity needs to die. I was just feeling really dark."
  • During the song's outro the impending apocalypse is soundtracked by frenzied, discordant brass and drums and a last cathartic scream. "I've always wanted to do it," Bridgers explained to Q Magazine of her scream.

    Unsure of the best way to unleash her lungs, she waited until Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes was in town for guidance. "I asked him to teach me," she laughed to Q. "He was like, what are you talking about? You don't get taught, you just do it! It's not that hard, but it hurts!"
  • Bridgers recorded the song at LA's Sound City studio. Her Boygenius bandmates Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, Better Oblivion Community Center partner Conor Oberst and folk musician Tomberlin contribute to the gang vocals on the outro while Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs supplied guitar work.

    "It kind of came together naturally," she told Stereogum. "I was basically like, 'I want a huge outro' and Conor was like, 'You know who plays crazy guitar for s--t like that is Nick Zinner.'" I knew that already, because he was on Better Oblivion."
  • Phoebe Bridgers recorded the song before the Covid era. She told Q Magazine in an interview done in the early weeks of the coronavirus lockdown it feels strangely prescient. "I've been thinking about it every day," Bridgers said. "It's about being in LA and people leaving it and there's this whole outro section about wanting to drive up to visit my grandpa. He's a super cool rodeo cowboy and I've been really worried about him, he's very at risk. So it's even more poignant."
  • Phoebe Bridgers played this song on the February 6, 2021 episode of Saturday Night Live, smashing her Danelectro guitar against a monitor at the end of a rocking performance. She also performed another Punisher track, "Kyoto."

Comments: 1

  • Brian Verderosa from Connecticut I’m just trying to figure out if this is the best song I’ve heard in the last ten years. Jesus.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Gentle Giant

Gentle GiantSongwriter Interviews

If counterpoint and polyrhythms are your thing, you might love these guys. Even by Progressive Rock standards, they were one of the most intricate bands of the '70s. Then their lead singer gave us Bon Jovi.

Van Dyke Parks

Van Dyke ParksSongwriter Interviews

U2, Carly Simon, Joanna Newsom, Brian Wilson and Fiona Apple have all gone to Van Dyke Parks to make their songs exceptional.

U2

U2Fact or Fiction

How did The Edge get his name? Did they name a song after a Tolkien book? And who is "Angel of Harlem" about?

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")Song Writing

Wes Edwards takes us behind the scenes of videos he shot for Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Chase Bryant. The train was real - the airplane was not.

Jello Biafra

Jello BiafraSongwriter Interviews

The former Dead Kennedys frontman on the past, present and future of the band, what music makes us "pliant and stupid," and what he learned from Alice Cooper.

Chris Frantz - "Genius of Love"

Chris Frantz - "Genius of Love"They're Playing My Song

Chris and his wife Tina were the rhythm section for Talking Heads when they formed The Tom Tom Club. "Genius of Love" was their blockbuster, but David Byrne only mentioned it once.