I've been a fan of REM since the early 1980s, and Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) is my favorite of their albums. That's why I'm surprised that somehow I slept on the fact that "Superman" is actually a cover of a 1969 song by Houston pop-psych band The Clique! I learned about this last night reading the late Elizabeth Wurtzel's 1993 article about REM that's been republished in the excellent new Oxford American: Southern Music Issue that compiles the "greatest hits" from the prior Southern music issues.
My excuse for being clueless is that REM's "Superman" was a hidden track not listed on the Lifes Rich Pageant jacket, so the song's writers, Mitchell Bottler and Gary Zekley, weren't listed in the album's credits. I'm glad to have discovered this original version 34 years later though! It's fantastic!
Here's REM's cover version:
The Clique's "Superman" was the b-side of their "Sugar on Sunday" single: