6. Apocalypse Please, Muse (2003). Theres always one guy who, as the 300-foot-high tsunami crashes over the seawall, holds out hope for a happy ending: Its time we saw a miracle/Come on its time for something biblical/To pull us through/...this is the end of the world."
5. When the Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash (2002). For one of his last songs, written a year before his death, Cash drew from the Bibles Book of Revelation to hail the Second Coming. Cash, as close to the voice of God as youll get, goes out strong right until the end. The whirlwind is in the thorn tree/Its hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
4. The End of the World, Skeeter Davis (1962). The question Davis asked in her plaintive soprano Why do the birds go on singing?/Why do the stars glow above/Dont they know its the end of the world? was about the aftermath of a broken romance. But to a planet that just a month earlier had been holding its collective breath over the Cuban Missile Crisis, the lyrics resonated in a different way.
3. The Merry Minuet, Kingston Trio (1959). A jolly ode to mans inhumanity to man: The whole world is festering with unhappy souls/The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles/Italians hate Yugoslavs/South Africans hate the Dutch/And I dont like anybody very much! But dont worry, help is on the way: For mans been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud/And we know for certain that some lovely day/someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.
2. Its the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), R.E.M. (1987). Michael Stipes chipper tumble of words begins, Thats great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane. And by the time you finish singing along four minutes and seven seconds later youll be so breathless the end of the world will feel like blessed relief.
1. Real Thing, WBEN (1953). At the height of the Cold War, Buffalo radio station WBEN had one of its announcers cut a record that the DJ could slap on the turntable if he saw a mushroom cloud outside the station: We interrupt our normal program to cooperate in security and in civil defense measures as requested by the United States government . . . . Normal broadcasting will now be discontinued for an indefinite period... Happily, it was never used, but Bear Family Records found a copy a few years ago and included in the CD box set Atomic Platters: Cold War Music From The Golden Age Of Homeland Security. Not too danceable, but its great for makeout sessions if your honey is a nihilist or necrophiliac.
Anyway, good luck on Friday. Normal newspaper feature-writing will now be discontinued for an indefinite period.