Otis Redding in 1967. Redding was also known as "The Mad Man From Macon." Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

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Neil Young (clockwise from upper left), fun., James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, early era R.E.M. Courtesy of the artists hide caption

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"It's always hard to tell exactly what [R.E.M.'s] Michael Stipe is singing about," says NPR listener and novelist Thomas Mullen. Sean Gardner/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Winter Songs

R.E.M.'s Dark And Brooding 'Sweetness'

"Sweetness Follows" helped novelist Thomas Mullen through his family's financial ruin.

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R.E.M. in the early days. Left to right: Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Bill Berry, Peter Buck. Laura Levine hide caption

itoggle caption Laura Levine

Clockwise from top left: Bjork, Andrew Bird, R.E.M. Courtesy of the artists hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artists