I remember the day I bought Fables. Late spring '85, a gray sky overhead with intermittent sprinkles falling, a downpour could have come at any moment, it seemed. I was outdoors, riding a ten speed five miles to the record store on release day to buy the new album by R.E.M., which had become my new favorite band after a college friend of mine introduced me to their music the summer before... Reckoning, which I loved immediately, purchased, and promptly wore the cassette out. Murmur, just the same... bought it on vinyl, made two cassette copies for myself just in case the vinyl wore out. There was such a magic about this band: the sublime melodies, the mysterious lyrics and vocals, so hypnotic you just had to listen repeatedly, yet you could never tire of hearing the songs. I had heard advance rumblings that this album was a departure from Murmur and Reckoning, and as soon as "Feeling Gravity's Pull" resonated through the headphones as I began the journey homeward (thankfully the rain did not come) it was indeed true... this was a departure. The drone of cellos, the murky aura, the downcast nature of the majority of the songs was a far cry from the generally bright and upbeat Reckoning and the rock-folk-punkiness of Murmur. But I loved it anyway, and wore out the cassette as well, and replaced it with the CD as soon as I could afford a player (they were still quite expensive in those days). I went on to purchase every R.E.M. album that followed, and after all of the years that have passed, through all of their stylistic twists and turns, Fables is the one R.E.M. album that still takes me to another place, stirs my emotions more than any of the others, even the equally somber Automatic For The People. There is distance, desperation, and longing in so many of these songs, "Feeling Gravity's Pull", "Maps And Legends", "Life And How To Live It", "Old Man Kensey", "Green Grow The Rushes", "Good Advices", and "Wendell Gee" that transcends most anything else you will hear. You can just feel the loneliness of a band that was in a dreary place during the sessions, far away from home (England), through Stipe's vocals, Buck's yearning guitar jangle, and Mills' aching harmony vocals. And you feel along with them...in fact, I still often shed tears during "Good Advices" when I hear "Home is a long way away...", the vocals are so full of loneliness you can't help but cry sometimes. Some people think of the South when they listen to this album. Yes, it does have that sound. When I listen to it, I tend to think of gray rainy days, regrets I may have, separation from the ones I love, and a longingness to go back home, wherever I may be.