Vocalist Kate Jackson explained to The Independent newspaper March 21, 2008 why they wrote this song about the enigmatic model. "Dorian (The band's main lyricist Dorian Cox) and I made references to popular culture this time, like on the song 'Erin O'Connor.' But that comes not necessarily from being nostalgic and wanting the past back - but appreciating a different form of entertainment and celebrity, where everything was less immediate compared to this internet age, where you can see whatever celebrities are doing throughout the day. Dorian wrote about Erin O'Connor partly because she doesn't seem to be part of that world, so she's timeless. We have a respect and a reverence to that. We'd like to keep a little bit of myth to pop music, and film culture, which I think has been lost."
"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.