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R.E.M.’s ‘Man On the Moon’ Nearly Didn’t Happen: Band’s Producers Reflect

"'Man on the Moon' was not going to get finished," Scott Litt recalls of that frenzied day in 1992. What would become R.E.M.'s quintessential hit was dangerously close to not making it onto the band's masterpiece, "Automatic for the People." The song was done, its instrumentation already committed to tape. But Michael Stipe, the band's enigmatic frontman, lacked those Andy Kaufman lyrics until the last minute. "We kind of made him finish it," says Litt, who produced six R.E.M. albums between 1987 and 1996. "When I hear that on the radio, I'm very thankful for that one day."

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