I first heard of R.E.M while I was in Germany. I really liked this song along with "losing my religion" from a later album. They were alternative before Nirvana and the other "grunge" bands became mainstream.
R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by lead vocalist Michael Stipe, lead guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. One of the first alternative rock bands, R.E.M. were noted for Buck's ringing, arpeggiated guitar style, Stipe's particular vocal quality, and Mills' melodic basslines and backing vocals. R.E.M. released their first single, "Radio Free Europe", in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band's first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the group released its critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single "The One I Love". The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.
R.E.M., which appeared on their 1987 album Document, the 1988 compilation Eponymous, and the 2006 compilation And I Feel Fine... The Best of the I.R.S Years 1982–1987. It was released as a single in November 1987, reaching No. 69 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and later reaching No. 39 on the UK Singles Chart on its re-release in December 1991.
The song originated from a previously unreleased song called "PSA" ("Public Service Announcement"); the two are very similar in melody and tempo. "PSA" was itself later reworked and released as a single in 2003, under the title "Bad Day." In an interview with Guitar World magazine published in November 1996, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck agreed that "End of the World" was in the tradition of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues.". The song was featured in the third episode of the 13th season of The Simpsons, "Homer the Moe".
The music video was directed by James Herbert, who worked with the band on several other videos in the late 1980s. It depicts a young skateboarder, Noah Ray, rifling through an abandoned, collapsing farmhouse and displaying the relics that he finds to the camera