An email from Maureen at Joseph Beth Booksellers on the South Side that I received while vacationing in Destin:

The reason for my e-mail to you today is because we’re putting together a display here in the store surrounding the release of a Workman Press title, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon, and I’m looking to get playlists from some of the best known Pittsburghers. Basically, all I need is a list of your top five favorite CDs, the recordings that you feel everyone should hear before they die.

First, I’ll let you finish chuckling about PittGirl being considered a “best known” Burgher.

You done?

You know, it sounds easy enough … what are your five favorite CDs of all time … but seriously.  Sit down and try to do it.  Really.  Do it.  Put your list in the comments section and tell me how easy it was to come to just five.

So I got the email, thought about it, knew two CDs right away I wanted to include and then got stuck.

I posed the question to the entire PittGirl family and the sisters were like, “Tim McGraw.  Yummo!”

This dissolved immediately into a discussion of Tim McGraw’s ass and whether that ass can make leather pants look good.  I got nowhere.

But boy, you want to see my brothers-in-law in animated discussion, you either ask them about grilling meat or ask them this question about the top five CDs of all time.

“U2.  U2 without a doubt must be on that list.”

“Two words.  Garth. Brooks.”

“Garth Brooks?!  He’s so …. what the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Wait wait wait.  Pink Floyd.”


“The Eagles.”

“Not bad.”

“I got it.  I got it.  Michael Jackson.”

“Too bad he’s such a freakcase now.”

“Something from Bon Jovi?”

“Elton John!”

“Dudes.  R.E.M.”

“No.  Guys, Guns ‘n Roses.  Bam.  Right there.”

“Oh. Oh.  George.  Strait.”


I didn’t take a single one of their suggestions.

My list will be displayed at JoBeth for I guess a week or two, so if you’re around, stop in and check it out.

As for here, we’ll count down one album a day so that we can spread out over the the space of five days your chance to make fun of me for my hideous taste in music.  I can take it.

There is only one country album on my list.

Here is your first opportunity to laugh at me but only on the condition that you have actually listened to the album.  You don’t get to make fun of something you’ve never heard before.  Putting aside any political affiliation you might hold dear to your heart:

5.  Dixie Chicks.  Fly.



  1. Michael
    August 14, 2008 8:09 am

    Ohh Ohh I’m first

    G’N’R Appetite
    U2 Rattle and Hum
    Pink Floyd Dark Side
    Pearl Jam 10
    If compellations are allowed:
    Beatles #1
    If not
    Zeppelin 4

    Had this discussion with my co-workers 6 months ago took a week.

  2. pittgirl
    August 14, 2008 8:14 am

    Compilations are absolutely allowed. I’ve got two on my list.

  3. Bethany
    August 14, 2008 8:14 am

    I *heart* The Dixie Chicks- that’s a GREAT album!

  4. Zsa
    August 14, 2008 8:39 am

    I don’t like the DixChix but it has nothing to do with W. I just don’t like their singing style.

    My five:

    Prefab Sprout – Steve McQueen
    Steely Dan – Aja
    Beatles – Revolver
    Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
    The Style Council – Our Favourite Shop

  5. Sue
    August 14, 2008 8:42 am

    I love and will always love the Dixie Chicks! I’ve seen them in concert twice, they put on a great show. I don’t care that they dissed W. They didn’t say anything everyone else is saying now.

  6. cityworker
    August 14, 2008 8:43 am

    The dixie chicks are a solid choice. That is not a bad album at all.

    For me I would have to throw Matchbox20 yourself or someone like you.
    a counting crows album
    and i could see going country.

    my wife and i saw hootie on CMT last night. Hootie is country now?

  7. Kat
    August 14, 2008 9:01 am

    Damn, this is hard….

    Beatles — Revolver
    Aimee Mann — Bachelor #2
    Police — Synchronicity
    Spoon — Ga ga ga ga ga
    And since compilations are allowed, a Johnny Cash Greatest Hits disk.

    Ask me again tomorrow and it’ll be different.

  8. Brian
    August 14, 2008 9:02 am

    That is a good album, and a very hard exercise. I came up with 15, but if we are playing desert island where you can only have five, I’d go with:

    Rolling Stones – Exile on Main
    Automatic for the People – REM
    Weezer – Weezer
    August and Everything After – Counting Crows
    Dookie – Green Day

  9. Kim
    August 14, 2008 9:08 am

    Great first album! I love you PittGirl!

  10. Brian
    August 14, 2008 9:09 am

    Wait, I just read that compilations are allowed. That is the easy way out and should be considered cheating. You might as well just say Beatles Anthology, or Bowies Greatest hits and be done with it.

    If compilations are allowed, I’m submitting a mixed tape I made for a cute little girl I dated in fifth grade school for ten days. That tape was awesome! It may have been a little heavy on Stevie Wonder and James Taylor, but it may have been the greatest compilation ever.

  11. SCsteeler
    August 14, 2008 9:13 am

    My boyfriend and I had this discussion a couple weeks ago, only it was the 5 cd’s you would want to have on a deserted island. My five were (don’t know if double cd’s count but oh well):

    Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
    Counting Crows – Films About Ghosts
    Van Morrison – Best of Van Morrison
    Aerosmith – Big Ones
    Bruce Springsteen – The Essentials

    I’m glad compilations count b/c all but one of mine are!

  12. Jen
    August 14, 2008 9:15 am

    I’m not even going to begin trying to make a list. But I have to agree with you- any ill-feelings towards the Dixie Chicks aside, ‘Fly’ is a great album.

  13. JP
    August 14, 2008 9:20 am

    If you were looking for a pittsburgh conneciton to that list of 1000 recordings to hear before you die I would put forth the following:
    1.Ellington at Newport Jazz festival 1956, no doubt Duke Ellington’s greatest recorded live preformance Billy Strayhorn who was based out of Pittsburgh was Ellington’s arranger and composer of many of his famous hits such as take A train etc
    2. John Coltrane, Giant steps 1960 argued to be Coltrane’s greatest work. Paul Chambers, who was born in Pittsburgh, played bass
    3. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, 1959 Chambers also played bass on this legedary recording
    4. Harace Silver song for my Father 1964. Silver’s all time classic features a very young Pittsburgher (I think 19)Roger Humphries on drums
    5. Art Blakley. Take your pick, any of his recordings could be in the top 1000 recordings to hear before you die I would choose, At Cafe Bohemia Vol. 1 1955

  14. Kelli
    August 14, 2008 9:22 am

    Eddie Spaghetti, The Sauce

    Dinosaur Jr., Green Mind

    Drive-By Truckers, The Dirty South

    Various Artist, the Big Lebowski soundtrack

    Warren Zevon, The Wind.

  15. Smiley
    August 14, 2008 9:25 am

    1. Bob Marley – Legend
    2. The Smiths – Louder Than Bombs
    3. The Cure – Disintegration
    4. New Order – Substance
    5. Roxy Music – Avalon

    Honorable mention: XTC – Skylarking

    Damn, I’m such a child of the 80s. But these seldom get far from my disc changer rotation.

  16. Virginia
    August 14, 2008 9:34 am

    1) Bruce Springsteen – The Rising
    2) Bon Jovi- Have a Nice Day
    3) Garth Brooks – Double Live
    4) Evanesence – Anywhere But Home
    5) Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight
    6) Andrew Lloyd Weber – Phantom of the Opera
    7) Les Miserables

    Surprisingly, the list wasn’t difficult to me. But I think its because I’ve answered the “if you could only take three CDs with you to an island, which ones would it be?” question a couple of times.

    I have odd eclectic music tastes hence the weirdness of the above list.

  17. Moe the Dog
    August 14, 2008 9:34 am

    I’ll borrow Brian’s iPod anytime, but I think it would be about the same as mine.

  18. bucdaddy
    August 14, 2008 10:02 am

    I’ve self-united with Kelli — although I might have gone (and will go) with “Southern Rock Opera” instead. DBTs are the best live rock and roll band I’ve ever seen. Also (live albums allowed?), maybe “Stand in the Fire” for Zevon, but then I haven’t heard “The Wind.”

    OK. And I hope vinyl’s allowed, for us Luddites:

    1. Tonio K, “Life in the Foodchain” — Best. Record. Ever, and holding steady in that spot for 30 years.
    2. Sex Pistols, “Never Mind the Bollocks”
    3. DBTs, “Southern Rock Opera”
    4. Neil Young/Crazy Horse, “Ragged Glory”
    5. AC/DC, “Back in Black”

    Pittsburgh albums worthy of discussion/inclusion:

    Iron City Houserockers, “Have a Good Time But … Get Out Alive”
    “Sworn Testimony: The Billy Price Band Live”

  19. Me
    August 14, 2008 10:06 am

    1. The Beatles — Sgt Peppers

    2. U2 — The Joshua Tree

    3. REM — Reckoning

    4. The Cure — Staring at the Sea

    5. Coldplay — A Rush of Blood to the Head

    And I also like the Dixie Chicks, though I wouldn’t put them in my top five. Goodbye Earl is a great song.

  20. Stuck in Bama
    August 14, 2008 10:12 am

    Whats hard isnt what to put on the list, but what to leave off.

    The Beatles – White Album
    Led Zeppelin – Zoso/#4
    Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
    Bob Marley – Legend
    Counting Crows – August and Everying After
    U2 – Joshua Tree
    Pearl Jam – Ten
    Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks
    The Jimi Hendrix Experienced – Are You Experienced
    The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

    By 5 obviously you mean 10

  21. Zach
    August 14, 2008 10:13 am

    1- The Beatles: Abbey Road
    2- Counting Crows: This Desert Life
    3- James Taylor: Sweet Baby James
    4- Fleetwood Mac: Rumors
    5- Led Zeppelin: How the West Was Won

    On vinyl when possible.

  22. Zach
    August 14, 2008 10:15 am

    actually… dark side of the moon gets its fair share of rotations…

  23. Daintress
    August 14, 2008 10:24 am

    1. Chess Soundtrack (technically 2 discs, but…..)
    2. Eagles: Hotel California
    3. Van Halen: 5150
    4. Prince: Purple Rain (or, really just about any of his albums)
    5. U2: Best of 1980-1990

    And you’re right – it’s one thing to choose favorite songs, but choosing favorite ALBUMS is much harder. So rare that most of the songs on an album are good. Still, I kept it down to just one “Best of” so I think I did alright. Lol!

  24. Petey
    August 14, 2008 10:34 am

    Trying to stay away from compilations, I have:

    Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
    Bruce Springsteen – The River
    Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around
    The Who – Tommy
    The Killers – Hot Fuss LE

  25. Kelli
    August 14, 2008 10:36 am

    Aww, Bucdaddy, I’m so honored!

    It was so hard to pick The Dirty South. I was really close to picking Southern Rock Opera. Or even another by them. Their shows have been the best shows of my life.

    Though the Supersuckers/Eddie Spaghetti rank right up there. You should see them live the next time you have a chance.

    Zevon did The Wind after he found out he was dying. It is great because he just never stopped living, even when he was staring at death. There are tons of guests on the album and it just makes you realize how well loved and respected this man was.

    Albums better be allowed – it is still the best format ever used. I’ll be firing up my record player this weekend for my own private Issac Hayes memorial.

  26. Thee Dude
    August 14, 2008 10:39 am












  27. John
    August 14, 2008 10:39 am

    1. Pink Floyd: Dark Side
    2. Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run
    3. U2: Joshua Tree
    4. Guns and Roses: Appetite For Destruction

    Those 4 are easy… the last one is a lot harder.

    Jimmy Buffett – Live in Anguilla (or some other Buffett)
    Beatles – Abbey Road or even Rubber Soul
    Jackson Browne – Running on Empty
    Pink Floyd again – Wish You Were Here
    Bruce again – The River, Darkness or Born in the USA
    Billy Joel – Piano Man or The Stranger
    Something country – Fly is a darn good choice, or Double Live Garth

    But, if you’re looking for something that not everyone might have heard… I would go with Dire Straits – Alchemy for my last choice.

  28. Sofa King
    August 14, 2008 10:42 am

    Hmm…I’m not sure what my Top 5 says about me, but I’m thinking it’s not good.

    1. Cold- “Year of the Spider”
    2. The Rolling Stones- “40 Licks”
    3. Tool- “Aenema”
    4. Portishead- “Dummy”
    5. Social Distortion- “Greatest Hits”

    I don’t think these would be my 5 if I were stuck on a desert island. Too depressing…

  29. frittob
    August 14, 2008 10:43 am

    Dixie Chicks = Overrated

    Pittsburgh Slant:

    * The Clarks – Let It Go
    * Gathering Field – Gathering Field
    * Norm Nardini and the Tigers – Eat ‘n alive
    * Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers – Have A Good Time But Get Out Alive!
    * Donnie Iris – Best OF

  30. Brian
    August 14, 2008 10:51 am

    Admittedly, I am a music snob. I admit this. I also have to confess I threw up over some of the above lists. I mean no offense. To each his/her own. Who am I to judge you? But no wonder mainstream culture has gone right to hell.

  31. Christina
    August 14, 2008 10:51 am

    1. All Things Must Pass – George Harrison
    2. Tiger Milk – Belle & Sebastian
    3. Mule Variations – Tom Waits
    4. Odessey and Oracle – The Zombies
    5. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood – Neko Case

    And if I had to pick one compilation, it would be Johnny Cash’s Love disc.

  32. Kylie
    August 14, 2008 10:52 am

    This was hard! I don’t know if I’d stick with this for the rest of my life or on a deserted island, but…

    1) Closer – Josh Groban
    2) Hybrid Theory – Linkin Park
    3) White Ladder – David Gray
    4) “Ray” Original Soundtrack
    5) Cross Road – Bon Jovi

    Others I considered including were:

    Comin’ from Where I’m From – Anthony Hamilton
    Hot Fuss – The Killers
    Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

  33. Kylie
    August 14, 2008 10:53 am

    I forgot to add The Hits – Garth Brooks to those under consideration. Whoops!

  34. Brian
    August 14, 2008 10:53 am

    I just put my tongue down Christina’s throat.

  35. Jeff the Speech Therapist
    August 14, 2008 10:55 am

    1) the Who: Quadrophenia
    — Rationale: Never has an album so resonated with me as to make me say it defined a portion of my life (1996-2000)

    2) Radiohead: OK Computer
    — If any single album can reshape the way you think about a band you hate, it’s this one, and it should undoubtedly get into your top 5. The liner notes and feel of this record have inspired the vast majority of my own artistic enterprises as well. Being #2 is really just another way of saying “#1” based solely on the sheer inspiration this record has given me.

    3) Guided By Voices: Alien Lanes
    — A year ago, this would’ve read “Isolation Drills,” but I’ve turned the corner on “Lanes” and it’s my favorite GBV record.

    4) Beck: Odelay
    — There is not a song on this album that 1) sucks (though “Jack-ass” comes pretty close) or 2) doesn’t remind me of some portion of Southern Germany and the surrounding counties as it was my soundtrack during my trip in high school

    5) Tie…Swayzak: Snowboarding in Argentina//The Chemical Brothers: Dig Your Own Hole (too close to call)
    — Put aside for just a moment my former postualtion (which I arrived at while EXCRUCIATINGLY high in graduate school) that listening to “Snowboarding in Argentina” for long enough will reveal “the truth about nature.” Yes, shamefully, I wrote that down somewhere. Anyway, both of these records are techno that I could/can relate to, and while “the truth about nature” may not be buried in the assorted bleeps, bloops, dub tracks, and samples, something fun and unique that you’ve never noticed before IS, making both of these records infintely replayable and enjoyable.

  36. retiredguy
    August 14, 2008 10:55 am

    My number one favorite.

    Antonio Vivaldi’s
    The Four Seasons – Concerti- Gloria
    preformed by
    The English Concert

  37. In Sewickley
    August 14, 2008 10:55 am

    Dixie Chicks rock.

    Hey PittGirl, did you hear Lokay’s “trivia” question on Pittsburgh Today Live?

    What do you get when you play country music backwards? You get your job back, your wife back and your dog back.

    We don’t like The Lokay today.

  38. Jeff the Speech Therapist
    August 14, 2008 10:57 am

    right there with you Brian, ‘cept for the tonguing.

  39. retiredguy
    August 14, 2008 10:57 am

    Damn fingers!

    Performed, not preformed

  40. Brian
    August 14, 2008 10:58 am

    I would approve a nuclear war if we could eliminate the following:

    1. Nickelback records
    2. The pop country canon
    3. Three Doors Down records
    4. Hinder records
    5. Metallica’s memory from 1989 until present day
    6. Sean Paul and Shaggy (anything they ever touched)
    7. Carlos Santana’s career from 1995 to … oh, right about now

    I love you all

  41. Brian
    August 14, 2008 10:59 am

    Jeff, your list also restored my faith in humanity. At least a small portion of it.

  42. Brian
    August 14, 2008 11:00 am

    8. I forgot to mention I’d approve elimination of Collective Soul, nu-metal, and Sublime, who thankfully never can record another lame-brained white boy frat record EVER AGAIN!

  43. Christina
    August 14, 2008 11:01 am

    I appreciate the sparing of another tongue down my throat.

  44. unsatisfied
    August 14, 2008 11:01 am

    in the age of ipods, does anyone even LISTEN to a WHOLE cd/album anymore?

    anyhoo, here’s mine — keeping it to the parameters of 5 (and we don’t need no stinkin’ compilations):

    1) beatles — white album
    2) cream — disraeli gears
    3) replacements — pleased to meet me
    4) george harrison — all things must pass
    5) ben folds five — whatever and ever amen

  45. maxtalbot
    August 14, 2008 11:02 am

    Five is really hard. Ten is much easier, but five? Damn.

    1. Rolling Stones – Some Girls
    2. The Smiths – Louder Than Bombs
    3. B-52’s – Wild Planet
    4. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
    5. And if compilations are allowed: Maria Callas – La Divina

  46. Jeff the Speech Therapist
    August 14, 2008 11:02 am

    aw shucks

    To be fair, I will put in a “nothing wrong with ’em”/meh pointed toward 3 Doors Down. My own tutor in the arts of musical snobbery once told me “it doesn’t always have to be ground-breaking. Sometimes, bands just put out stuff that’s catchy and good on that merit.”

    I figure, if he can say that listening to what I consider about the most groundbreaking musical archive ever, it must be true.

  47. maxtalbot
    August 14, 2008 11:06 am

    sofaking, that Portishead disc is great. I remember when I got it, it didn’t leave my stereo for months. Same with “The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill.” Another great disc. Five is really, really hard.

  48. Jeff the Speech Therapist
    August 14, 2008 11:09 am

    Now Brian’s got me thinking of a “GTF away” list…

    — Mark Ronson and Danger Mouse: plenty of producers came and went before you. Please “went.” See, I can’t wish nuclear bombs on them, though, because the new Black Keys record is just excellent, as is what Gnarls Barkley’s stuff, Lily Allen’s “Alright Still” and the oft-mentioned crackhead opus “Back to Black.”

    — Anything American Idol has shat upon, though I do hope Kelly Clarkson keeps her head about her and keeps making music her way (just as long I don’t have to listen to it)

    — Connor Goddamned Oberst or whatever he’s calling himself these days

    — Sufjan Stevens. To be fair, he hasn’t really been as…unavoidable lately, which in and of itself is proof that putting good things into the universe will net you some good results. Ditto Sonic Youth. When SY shuts the hell up and makes actual music, they’re passable. That’s the best I can muster (see “Incinerate” and “Winner’s Blues”)

    — Steven Lynch. Yeah, that D&D song’s not as funny as everyone else thinks it is.

  49. Blueline1925
    August 14, 2008 11:12 am

    It’s funny. I’ll bet you can pinpoint what year most people were born based on what albums are listed here. With that said, here’s mine.

    @Sofa King – mad props for Year of the Spider and Aenema. Great choices too.

    1. Bon Jovi – Cross Roads… best songs before they started this Country-music BS.
    2. Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime. The greatest hard-rock concept album of the 1980s.
    3. Nickelback – The Long Road. (I await your slings and arrows.)Say what you want about their commercial-oversaturation, but they can write a good, angry rock song.
    4. Baton Rouge – Shake Your Soul. One of the best, unknown hard rock bands and albums from the early 1990s.
    5. Fuel – Natural Selection. The best and final release from the original lineup before

    Honorable mentions/Missed Cut
    6. Shinedown – Leave a Whisper
    7. Def Leppard – Hysteria
    8. Winger – The Best of Winger. (yeah, that’s right…if you’re a musician, you can appreciate their musicianship in spite of the cheezy hard rock.)
    9. Whitesnake – The Best of Whitesnake
    10. Saliva – Back In Your System

    I’m not even sure this is even my end-all, be-all list.

    And is it incredibly apparent that I had a mullet in high school and wondered why I couldn’t get any dates?

  50. Jeff the Speech Therapist
    August 14, 2008 11:14 am

    Yes, Blueline. It IS incredibly apparent.

    Is it apparent that in high school I played a lot of Magic the Gathering with college kids who ran a pirate radio station?