Released : 1987
What’s the difference between sleeping and being awake? Michael Stipe claims that It’s The End Of The World And We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’s rapid fire list of maniacs and malcontents (Brezhnev, Bruce, Bernstein, Bangs) came to him in a dream, the sort of REM sleep visions which you have to have your brain in deep chill for.
It’s certainly a number which feels as if the boundaries which fence in our reality don’t exist, as natural disasters, erupting geo-political storms and religious vomit jam each other up for room while the singer barks line after line as if speaking in tongues on behalf of cable news.
Updating Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues with a dose of late Cold War radioactive paranoia, this was sub-verbal diarrhea of the highest order, listeners pinned as if stuck at a party with the crazy kid who laughed at all his own jokes. It’s also had a remarkable half life, making it onto Clear Channel’s infamous post 9/11 list of songs that shalt not be played, and then streaming heavily again in the early, apocryphal moments of Covid haunted 2020. Feeling fine about the end of the world has become a more natural state of mind with every year that’s passed since.