Long before the Mayan calendar hit pop consciousness, R.E.M.was singing about the end and felt just fine about it.
On Nov. 16, 1987, the quartet from Athens, Ga., released “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” as a single. Lyrically, the song is a common structure in pop music — a rhythmic litany of poetic non sequiturs and/or names. When combined with the right melody, these songs become infectious pop classics (think: Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” Neil Diamond’s “Done Too Soon,” or Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”).
The song was the second single to be released from R.E.M.’s fifth album, Document (“The One I Love” preceded it in August and “Finest Worksong” would follow in March).
Document , released on Sept. 1, was the first of many albums R.E.M. would create with producer Scott Litt. The LP was the band’s first to land in the Top 10 (at #10). “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” would reach #69 on the Billboard Hot 100.