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

“That’s great. It starts with an earthquake…”

Back in 1965, Bob Dylan scored his first top 40 hit with “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, a rambling, stream-of-consciousness tune about Johnny, Maggie, ‘No-Doz’, and parking meters. Twenty years later, R.E.M. would put together a similar tune that made almost as much sense.

Released in November 1987, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” came complete with (from what we can gather) apocalyptic lyrics, talking about book burning, bloodletting, and every motive escalating (not to mention birds, snakes, and an aeroplane). And then there’s the whole ‘L.B.’ section where Michael Stipe sings about Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs (birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom!).

While the song never enjoyed any commercial success, it was a mainstay on campuses in the late 80s, dominating college radio and also getting quite a lot of play as a novelty tune at high school parties and dances all across the country.

And if the song was cryptic, the video was even more so: A skate rat spends the afternoon shuffling through the trash in an old, abandoned house, occasionally taking a break to hold up an antique photo. Wha-huh?

Sure, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” is a great song, but we think it goes much further than that. You see, we hold that there’s no better way to gauge your 80s-ness than by your mastery of this song’s lyrics:
Not at all 80s: All you can do is (at some point) scream “Leonard Bernstein”
80s Wannabe: You sing the chorus and fake your way through a dozen words
80s Fan: You know most of the lyrics, though once in a while you stumble
True Child of the 80s: You know the whole song backward and forward, and can make it through “You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched” without even blinking.

Right? Right.

We ♥ It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).


~ by weheart80s on February 2, 2011.

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