Clearly Unfinished, here is the current draft
Chorus is ignored due to repetitive and non-insightful nature.
REM’s iconic song “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”,is a fast-phrased stream of consciousness that tells the tale of, as the title states, the End of the World. The artistically formed metaphors and the speed at which they are being related, however, make it difficult to understand exactly what this end is, and why. Written down lyrics remain longer than spoken, and upon dissecting the lyrics of the song, an Idea can be gleaned as to what Michael Stipe (the lead man of REM) may have been foretelling.
The first line of the song opens strongly with “That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane, and Lenny Bruce is not afraid”. Already an audience is left scratching their heads as to the purpose of the line. It is probable that the earthquake refers to the many earthquakes described in the BIble. Starting with an earthquake could refer specifically to Day 3 of creation, or seen as the end off times as seen in Revelation 11:19- “And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”(Source 3) Perhaps Stipe is alluding that the creation of something new is the destruction of what existed prior. If the reference was to Revelations than the alluding to the end of the world is clear. He may simply have wished to begin his song with something quite literally “Earth Shattering”. Lenny Bruce, a controversial American comedian is named alongside this natural disaster, seemingly out of place. The phrase certainly catches the ear of the reader, what is it that Lenny Bruce is not afraid of? The obvious are the earthquake and the end of the world. But why specifically Lenny Bruce? One possibility is his name fits the pattern found later in the song (Which will be discussed in due time). Additionally, Lenny Bruce was known for his monologues on taboo subjects and infused with scatological language, indicating that Lenny bruce may simply have not been afraid of anything (Source 6).
The second verse is largely literal, with only a few lines being unclear. The reference to hurricanes, speed, strength, fear, and fire are all physical manifestations that may be related to the end of the world. The meaning of the “End of the World” begins to change at this point, when Stipe describes a Government for Hire and a Combat Site. While neither of these are apocalyptic, they are clearly unwanted situations. Stipe, a major figure in political statements, expresses his dissatisfaction towards governments that act with monetary interests in mind, and toward war. The Furies, Greek and Roman Mythological creatures, and described as breathing down your neck in the next line. The Furies were spirits of female and justice, and so Stipe indicates this way that justice is necessary toward the corrupt governments in the previous line.
The third verse holds very little meaning, as most of it is made up of un-related verbs. The bits that stick out, however, coincide with the End of the world theme. A breakdown of the media, “Reporters Baffled”, “Save yourself”, a theme in any apocalyps. Stipe also says “listen to your heart bleed”. “Bleeding Heart” refers to one who believes in liberal social programs (Source 6), saying to listen means REM is asking people to follow the liberal opinion. and the Rapture is directly mentioned in this occasion, both bringing back up the biblical end as well as supporting the earlier mentioning of an earthquake.
Six o’clock is known to be Newshour in television, and this is confirmed with the statement following, “TV hour”. What is being reported on follows next, “Don’t get caught in foreign tower. The only event that concurs with both the time and the description of getting caught in a tower was the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which took place from November, 1979 to January, 1981. On November 4th, students over ran the U.S. Embassy in Iran, taking over 60 people hostage. (Source 3). Multiple meanings can be derived from this. Stipe is rather obviously indicating that the action of taking people hostage like this is a sign toward the end of the world. Perhaps because it was students and not an official action, which shows a breakdown in order, or that innocent people are pulled into conflicts, something similar to the fear of a nuclear war. If civilians are not differentiated from soldiers, than war becomes a much more widespread and brutal affair. The Foreign Tower also throws back to the songs earlier lines of “government for hire and a combat site”, as both of these were present in the case of the Iranian Hostage crisis.
Following that line, the fourth verse continues in the pattern of the song, lining up rapid lyrics the provide glimpses of what REM sees as the end of the world