It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Album: Document (1987)
Charted: 69
Play Video
  • That's great, it starts with an earthquake
    Birds and snakes, and aeroplanes
    And Lenny Bruce is not afraid

    Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
    World serves its own needs,
    Don't mis-serve your own needs
    Speed it up a notch, speed, grunt, no, strength
    The ladder starts to clatter
    With a fear of height, down, height
    Wire in a fire, represent the seven games
    And a government for hire and a combat site
    Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry
    With the Furies breathing down your neck

    Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
    Look at that low plane, fine, then
    Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
    But it'll do, save yourself, serve yourself
    World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
    Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
    You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
    Feeling pretty psyched

    It's the end of the world as we know it
    It's the end of the world as we know it
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

    Six o'clock, T.V. hour, don't get caught in foreign tower
    Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
    Lock him in uniform, book burning, bloodletting
    Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
    Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down
    Watch your heel crush, crush, uh oh
    This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear
    A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
    Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline

    It's the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)
    I feel fine (I feel fine)

    It's the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

    The other night I drifted nice continental drift divide
    Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
    Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
    Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom
    You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right, right

    It's the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

    It's the end of the world as we know it
    It's the end of the world as we know it
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

    It's the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

    It's the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone) Writer/s: John Michael Stipe, Michael E. Mills, Peter Lawrence Buck, William Thomas Berry
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 64

  • Chris Clancy from Nagano, JapanI wonder if the digits in the Mayan doomsday prophecy weren’t incorrectly transcribed. Perhaps the date is December 12, 2021.
  • Spamwich from UsaDid REM validate this lyric: "Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry"?
    I always thought they said: "Lech Walesa coming in a hurry".

    Mentioning Lech Walesa seemed consistent with one of the song's thematic devices--naming individuals famous for their daring.

    Walesa was very popular when the song first charted. He had won the Nobel Peace Prize a few years earlier and was a rising liberal star in Europe. He had ended communist rule as President of Poland when the song recharted. He is also consistent with REM's penchant for decorated activists.

    Conversely, I can't make sense of the published lyric (not that I can make sense of all REM lyrics).
  • Christy from MaineI've always liked this song. But now that I'm reading up on the group and the meaning of the song I really like it and I'm going to keep learning about the band.
  • Victoria P. from Seattle, WaYeah, some of the lyrics have been going through my head since the lockdown started. Wanted to look up the year. Released 33 years ago...
  • Harvey from FloridaI memorized this song for a gig on December 21st, 2012. The venue was a Tiki Bar built in the parking lot of a marina, it's was still a new place, beautiful tiki bar, I'd played there several times already. However a problem came up. The code inspector had been there that day to find the entire bar was running on one extension cord from the marina warehouse right next to it. When I got there they were serving beers from a cooler under candlelight.

    I sat at the bar, played the song, unplugged and with no power, went home unpaid. It was the end of that Bar as I knew it. True Story.

    I still play it often.

  • Sandy from KansasI have also loved this song, but since this pandemic hit in mid-March, it plays in my head incessantly. I have known the chorus since 1987 when it was a big hit!! ( Ironically that was the year I got married! LOL...Happy, sad, fun, challenging 32 year long exciting rollercoaster ride!!!) When I could not remember the verses, my adult daughter and I looked up the lyrics: it was eerily prophetic! The writer has several biblical allusions and although The Rapture is not actually referred to as such in the Bible, the song seems to be referring to the time when “...the trump of the archangel shall sound, and the dead in Christ wii rise first. Then all who remain shall be caught up with Him in the clouds.” This means that everyone who puts their faith (trust) in Jesus Christ will be saved when the end comes-and it will come. (Literally anyone who calls on the name of the Lord (Jesus Christ) will be saved. Saved from what? Saved from separation from God forever. “For God so loved the world (that is everybody), that He (God/Creator)gave his one and only son (begotten- born of God- that means Jesus Christ), that whosoever believes in Him (Jesus Christ) (that’s not just knowing with your mind but trusting and loving Him with your everything- all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength!) should not perish ( be separated from God forever), but will have everlasting life.” John 3:15

    know Jesus, know Peace
    No Jesus, No Peace

    I am not saying be careless or cavilier as the song says, but I am not afraid to die because I know Jesus. I trust him with everything in my life, “so I feel fine!”
  • James from MexicoThis song is more relevant today than has ever been.
  • Pail Mckee from OhioThey stole this song from Randy Stonehill.
  • Sean from AshevilleThis lyric is incorrect: "The other night I drifted nice continental drift divide...". The lyric is "The other night I dreamt of lions; a continental drift divide..."

    First off, it should be obvious that Stipe would never repeat "drift" like that.

    Secondly, and more importantly, is the context of the lyrics that follow. Here he's referring to the mountainous lions in the next line...the giant men of influence who metaphorically moved continents: "The other night I dreamt of lions; a continental drift divide. Mountains sit in a line: Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs..."
  • Shane from Austin, TxI have a hard time believing that it's just coincidence that the first atom bomb dropped in Hiroshima was 'Little Boy' ...LB...that marked one of the most significant EOTWAWKI moments in history.
  • Sioraf from Macroon, IrelandAs I type this it's 23:34 GMT on the 21st of December 2012 and this song is the most viewed one on this site today because the Mayan calendar ended today so a number of people thought the world would end.
  • Molly from Niagara Falls, NyA votive...a votive candle.
  • Jeff from Liberty Township, OhWelcome to 2012! This year you will likely hear this song more and more frequently. I am too young (47) to really appreciate Lenny Bruce and his mark on the entertainment industry. Having said that, I wish I could ask Michael Stipe why Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Perhaps I am guilty of expecting deep intellectual reasons where their are none.
  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzA bad called Great Big Sea covered this song in 2:42, almost a minute and a half faster then REM. Wow!
  • Gj from Lodnon, United KingdomUsed as the main title theme to the BBC comedy The World as We Know It by Luke Sorba. Comedy about 4 people ( 2 women and 2 men ) who live together as flatmates, wake up one Monday morning to discover the entire human race has vanished from the planet. Suddenly a mysterious stranger appears from the basement of the house they live in, dropping clues as to how it all happened.
  • Dusty from St. Louis, MoWhenever I contemplate the end of the world and life, death, and the mysteries of the universe, this is almost always in my head.
  • Jason from Grove City, PaThe lyrics are niether "The other night I tripped at Knox" or "The other night I dreamt of knives", they are "The other night I tripped a nice continental drift divide".
  • Ryan from Detroit, MiIN the latter part of the 20th century, everyone was convinced the world wouldn't make it to the new millennium. People were convinced that the human race would destroy itself, either in a nuclear holocaust, or because of its own greed overcoming all moral values.
    Stipe, by reciting everything that is wrong with the world, seemed to be saying, The world as we know it will end, and what happens next will be better than what we have now. Not Armageddon as everyone was predicting, just the end of the world "as we know it" and he was saying, that's ok, I feel fine about that.
  • Robbie from Dallas, Tx'Thats great; it starts with an earthquake...' This song is REMs interpretation of the Book of Revelations. New Testament.
  • Alex from New City, NyMandy! I can sing the entire song along with Stipe also......there's something about me and fast/a lot of lyrics in a song. I know this, One Week, We Didn't Start The Fire, Here We Go, and Bang Bang (the last two are by Dispatch) by heart. XD
  • Jeff from Pekin, Ilis any body absolutely positive that michael says"tripped to knox"in its the end of the world? i am from galesburg,il. and my wife went to knox college in'87 so as u can guess rem was huge about that time and that line/lyric has always driven me crazy! please,please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Dylan from Dodge City, KsDoes anyone know all the words to this. It's Crazy
  • Jon from Enumclaw , WaI don't know how many times this song gets stuck in my head. What a great song!!!
  • Tristan from San Antonio, Txin the song, it dosen't say:"the other night, i tripped at knox"
    it say: "the other night i dremped of KNIFES"
    y'know... like the weapon...
  • Zach from Sacramento, Caa votive is a small candle, but i agree with brad from topeka- stipes says "motive"
  • Zach from Sacramento, CaI think that most bands just write random lyrics and then come up with stories and reasons for why they wrote the song.
  • Matthew from Milford, Ma...What's a "votive"?
  • Zachbon from Okemos, MiThomas Global warming, like the Therory of Evolution it dosn't exist
  • Jason from Boston, MaThe band is probably named R.E.M. because so much of his lyrics come from dreaming, and R.E.M. sleep is the state of mind in which your body dreams in when it's a sleep.
    your eyes move all the time when your dreaming and when they move too fast you have nightmares.
    enough of me being a sleep expert =)
  • Casey from Jerome, IdOk now i dont want to be a know it all but the song is refered to the lead singer was in Debate in highschool, now this is written about his experances he mentions "Tournemant Full Of Lies" ok next my debate coaches wehn i was in therer all taught us that.Also if you dont beleve me check Wikipeda about the song. Thank You
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesFantastic song - one of REM's best
  • Mark from Concord, NhI heard that the song was referencing the 20th century and the lyrics "that's great it starts with an earthquake" was referring to the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

    You have to remember this song was written in the Reagan years 1980-1988

    I heard that the Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom referred to Ronald Reagan who always got Jelly Beans on his birthday but also had the red button at his disposal - hence the boom!

    Also the that "Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign towers. Slash and burn, return"
    refers to the failed rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages by Jimmy Carter in 1979. The hostages were caught in "foreign towers", the helicopters stopped to refuel and one ended up crashing and burning so the mission was scrubbed and they returned.
  • Thomas from Londonion, EnglandSounds a bit like Global Warming.
    It could be that we always think the end of the world will be bad and painful, but actually you'd be more numb than anything else. This is the feeling you get when you're depressed- the pain comes from not caring about anything.
  • Mike from Hillsboro, NjOne of the weirdest songs I've ever heard, but it's great. I don't see it as a sad song, it's just a strange song.
  • Brad from Topeka, KsWhy does every lyric source state the lyrics 'Light a candle, light a votive...' (which does make sense) but, to me, it's VERY clear Stipe says 'Light a candle, light a motive...'?
  • Brian from Dallas, TxHomer from The Simpsons tries to sing along with the band and sings this "Leonard what's-his-name, Herman Munster motorcade, birthday party Cheetos, pogo sticks and lemonade, you symbiotic stupid jerk, stir-fried Flanders, I am talking about you."
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThis was REM's first hit in the UK after several near-misses; however I think they had already had several US hits up to this point
  • Camille from Oz, WaI love this song. The way it goes from the fast paced, almost manic verses to the courus with the really pretty, and well pulled off, hormony. This song is really fun to dance to, no matter how sad the lyrics may be.
  • Josh from Boca Raton, FlPart of this song (with changed lyrics) was used in Comedy Central's Last Laugh 2006 as the introduction.
  • Josh from Boca Raton, FlNow that you mention it Daniel, you're right. Kinda scary, is it not? But I love the song anyways. Sure there are other things in the lyrics that have recently happened.
  • Daniel from Fontana, Cahaven't these things happend recently?
    Earthquake:Thailand 2004
    Birds:Bird flu 2005
    Airplane:9/11 2004 or 2003
    Hurracaine:Katrina 2005
    Combat site:Iraq
    Don't get caught in forighn towers:9/11
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI envy u Mandy. I wish I knew the words. Dave, y would Microsoft want this? I don't get it? Interesting thing about the dream./. ...
  • Mit from New York, NyThis song is cousin to we didnt start the fire by billy joel. This Rem song has a meaning that the world is ending in chaos and we feel fine about it. a meaning to we diddnt start the fire is that they are not responsible for the world ending but they try to stop it..... its interesting.
  • Jorge from Mexicali, MexicoYup, this song's in Disney's "Chicken Little" and it plays when the aliens invade town and all hell breaks loose. Funny son, with a catchy, hapyp peppy rythm while the worlds in ending.
  • Alex from Loveland, CoI love this song and I could listen to it over and over again
  • Joy from Kewanee, IlThe lyrics are not 'the other nite I tripped at Knox' it is 'the other nite I dreamt of knives.' The lyrics were officially published when the Soviets wanted to review them for the Greenpeace album. The knives line is pretty much official, in that case. Although, the Knox thing would be cool, as that's my home area..but, alas, tis not to be.
  • Mike from Germantown, MdIf you listen carefully, you can hear this in the commercials for the Movie Chicken Little.
  • Bethany from Carrier Mills, Ili agree with justin gregg. i love the lyrics and they really do make you smile when you sing them.
  • Max from Laguna Niguel, Ca"That's right Flanders, I'm talkin' 'bout you...". R.E.M. was one of the funniest and best implemented guest stars. Also, this song rocks when your sleep deprived... among other things.
  • Dave from Brisbane, AustraliaMicrosoft wanted to use this song to launch Win 98, but REM said no, they used Start me up by the Stones
  • Holly from Nottingham, EnglandSo is it "The other night I tripped at Knox" or "The other night I dreamt of knives" which I always thought it was, and far preferred! Plus it rhymes with the next line of "Continental drift divides..."
  • Mark from Burlington, CanadaThis song was also covered by Great Big Sea. It's faster, rockier and way tougher to sing.
  • Mike from Chicago, IlI still remember the day I found the lyrics for this song back in 1995. I went back and must have listened to the song 30 times trying to catch everything. A great song, one of R.E.M.'s top five.
  • Mandy from Smalltown, NyThis is the song that got me into REM. After extensive practice, I can now sing the entire thing with Stipe. It's an icebreaker at parties.
  • Peter from Fort Worth, TxThis is one of my favorite rem songs and is a perfect example of stipe's style, a constant stream of words and thoughts that go from thing to thing. In almost every song they have strange lyrics, read e-bow the letter's lyrics.
  • Rhett from Melbourne, Australiai luv REM but never really thought that much of this song untill reading here and finding out what it is actually about.
  • Karl from Bangladesh, IndonesiaIn the Simpsons episode Homer is making up his own words and interprets one of the lines as "Moe is a she-male" I couldn't stop laughing when I heard it and it still makes me chuckle now.
  • A.k. from Westchestertonfieldville, IaMy favorite line is "offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline" implies that no matter what, we won't back down from anything--even "the end of the world". excellent.
  • Epp from Pittsburgh, PaClasic rapid fire song about arrmegedon. Really weird writing style, which makes it a catchy song.
  • Jason from Wylie, Txit was also played in a movie called flashback starring dennis hopper and keifer sutherland
  • Michael from Fayville, MaIt has also appeared in Independence Day.
  • Mo from Ft.lauderdale, FlCovered by No Doubt on MTV's Millenium Cellebration.
  • Justin Gregg from Harrah, OkThe song is probably about learning to accept things at they are and being content with them.
  • Bryon from Carlisle, PaThe song also appeared in the movie Tommy Boy.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

David Paich of Toto

David Paich of TotoSongwriter Interviews

Toto's keyboard player explains the true meaning of "Africa" and talks about working on the Thriller album.

Bass Player Scott Edwards

Bass Player Scott EdwardsSong Writing

Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."

Victoria Williams

Victoria WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

Despite appearances on Carson, Leno and a Pennebaker film, Williams remains a hidden treasure.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

The Evolution of "Ophelia"

The Evolution of "Ophelia"Song Writing

How four songs portray Shakespeare's character Ophelia.

Harry Shearer

Harry ShearerSongwriter Interviews

Harry is Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, Mark Shubb in The Folksmen, and Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.