R.E.M. Lyric Annotations FAQ
R.E.M.: Document: Its the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)


 [Its the End of the World...]

"Lenny Bruce is not afraid"
Lenny Bruce was a controversial American comedian. [Ron Henry] * He was famous for or, depending on your point-of-view, notorious for his monologues peppered with scatological language, fearless tackling of taboo subjects; such as race relations and liberal hypocrisy, religion, and sexuality. [Brent Hornberger]

"with the furies breathing down your neck"
The Furies are mythological figures. [Ron Henry]

"listen to your heart bleed"
As in "bleeding heart", referring to one who believes in liberal social programs. [Ron Henry]

"with the rapture"
The "rapture" is the salvation of the faithful at the end of the world. [Ron Henry]

"You vitriolic"
"Vitriolic" means sharply critical. [Ron Henry] * See also Ignoreland.

"light a votive"
A "votive" is something done in remembrance (like lighting a candle in a church) or accompanying a vow. [Ron Henry]

"this means no fear cavalier"
To be "cavalier" means to be haughty or offhand. [Ron Henry] * A cavalier is also a mounted soldier, or a gentleman escort to a woman of high status. [Chris Piuma]

"continental drift"
This is the very slow movement of parts of the Earth's crust. [Ron Henry]

"Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs."
This part of the song was inspired by a dream Stipe had in which he was at a party where everyone's initials were L.B. [Chris Piuma] * Leonard Bernstein was a famous classical conductor [and composer]. Leonard Brezhnev was the former leader of Soviet Union. Lester Bangs was a 1970's rock music essayist. [Ron Henry]

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Lyrics from Kipp Teague's Lyric Archive.