It’s the End of the World – Unraveling the Apocalyptic Anthem


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for R.E.M.'s It's the End of the World at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Lenny Bruce’s Fearless Outlook
  5. The Chaotic Parade of History and Culture
  6. Apocalypse, Satire, and Finding the Silver Lining
  7. Deciphering the Hidden Meaning Behind the Manic Energy
  8. Unpacking the Most Memorable Lines

Lyrics

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)

Full Lyrics

R.E.M.’s frenetic anthem, ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),’ has cemented itself as a cultural touchstone since its 1987 release. Fast-paced, enigmatic, and loaded with a collage of vivid imagery, the song’s infamy and enduring relevance is a testament to its layered tapestry of meanings and societal observations.

Amidst its iconic, rapid-fire verse and ironically upbeat chorus, lies a complex exploration of the human condition, societal chaos, and a satirical poke at our collective existential anxiety. This piece delves into the heart of what makes this classic track resonate across generations, offering a fresh perspective on a world that often seems to teeter on the precipice of cataclysm.

Lenny Bruce’s Fearless Outlook

The opening salvo, invoking the name of Lenny Bruce, isn’t merely about dropping a reference to a daring comedian. It speaks to a broader resistance to fear, a theme that runs deep within the song. Lenny Bruce’s refusal to bow to censorship and his fight for free expression sets the tone for a resistance against societal pressures, against the backdrop of chaotic imagery that follows.

Bruce’s fearlessness is the epitome of the attitude adopted throughout the song. As we face a whirlwind of disaster and social discord, the song suggests there’s a certain power in confronting the world’s end with a shrug and a defiant attitude, rather than succumbing to dread.

The Chaotic Parade of History and Culture

As the lyrics hurtle from one line to the next, they paint a dizzying montage of historical figures, cultural icons, and political events. ‘Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs’ arrive in quick succession, insinuating that the momentous and the mundane are equally swept up in the relentless stream of history.

In this rapid roll call, R.E.M. captures the essence of a society saturated with information where significant moments and figures become ephemeral mentions in an ongoing list, highlighting the transient nature of fame, power, and, ultimately, life itself.

Apocalypse, Satire, and Finding the Silver Lining

The chorus rings out as an affirmation of resilience amidst potential disaster. The repeated mantra ‘and I feel fine’ serves as a challenge to the doom-laden portrait sketched by the verses. There’s a biting satire at play here—the paradoxical sense of comfort amidst acknowledgment of turmoil.

It is in this juxtaposition that one finds the song’s heart. Rather than inducing panic, R.E.M. offers a satirical shrug in the face of apocalypse—an embrace of an ending that, in truth, may just be a new beginning. It’s a statement of continuity, that life goes on, regardless of the noise that surrounds us.

Deciphering the Hidden Meaning Behind the Manic Energy

The relentless tempo and barrage of references could be interpreted as R.E.M.’s representation of the information overload prevalent in the modern world. The song mimics the way news, pop culture, politics, and personal crises blend into an indistinguishable whirlwind, reflective of the disorienting experience of the late 20th century and beyond.

This chaotic blend points towards a hidden meaning: the struggle to find individual significance in a world where everything seems to happen all at once. The song becomes an anthem for retaining one’s sanity and sense of self as the familiar world appears to crumble. Choosing to ‘feel fine’ is a radical act of self-preservation in an era of overwhelming change.

Unpacking the Most Memorable Lines

‘Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped’ isn’t just a catchy line—it’s a critique of the media’s ability, or lack thereof, to make sense of the spiraling complexities of contemporary life. The reporters are as lost as anyone else, their narratives ‘cropped’ and manipulated, just as they attempt to manipulate the narrative of the world.

Another indelible phrase, ‘offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline,’ speaks to a rejection of band-aid solutions to deep-rooted issues. It’s an acknowledgment that perhaps the proposed ‘solutions’ are inadequate for the scale of the problems faced—a call to look beyond conventional wisdom to find answers.

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