Houston Music Map

Queen Norah reigns, Josh Groban pains, and lots of Natalie Maines

What do you do when you go in an acquaintance's house for the first time? If you're a music fan, chances are you inspect the CD collection and start making snobby summary judgments that flavor your relationship with that person forever and ever.

At, you can vicariously check out whole communities' taste in music (and books and DVDs) with their "Purchase Circles" search by city, by company or school feature. Amazon groups the items it ships to every zip code, as well as the items ordered from each college or business. It then aggregates this info and constructs best-seller lists of items that are more popular with each specific group than with the general population, so don't confuse all the lists below with what's selling best overall. Since the uniquely popular lists are more telling, we've included them wherever possible.

Consider it a party guide of sorts -- you'll know whether to bring your earplugs or your dancing shoes to that barbecue in La Porte or the wedding reception in Magnolia.

Lay bawls the milk cow blues, while Sting claims it's a 
brand new day.
Joe Forkan
Lay bawls the milk cow blues, while Sting claims it's a brand new day.
"Galileo Figaro, Caneck, Caneck! Scaramouche, 
Scaramouche, Chigaroogarem!"
"Galileo Figaro, Caneck, Caneck! Scaramouche, Scaramouche, Chigaroogarem!"

(If you don't see your community here, there was insufficient data.)

Houston and the Near Burbs, Including Enron

Houston (uniquely popular): 1. Here's to the Ladies Christine Andreas 2. Flowers & Liquor Hayes Carll 3. Born to Howl Stone Coyotes 4. Come on Down to Texas for a While: The Anthology 1969-1991 Steven Fromholz 5. Greatest Hits Clay Walker 6. For the Last Time: Live from the Astrodome George Strait 7. Gravitational Forces Robert Earl Keen 8. Merry Texas Christmas, Y'all Asleep At the Wheel 9. No. 2 Live Diner Robert Earl Keen 10. The Very Best of B.W. Stevenson 11. The Live Album Robert Earl Keen 12. This Time of Year Steve Tyrell 13. Car Talk: Why You Should Never Listen to Your Father When It Comes to Cars Tappet Brothers, a.k.a. Tom & Ray Magliozzi 14. Alegría Cirque du Soleil 15. Ultimate Collection Jerry Jeff Walker 16. Bel Canto Vincenzo Bellini (composer) 17. ABBA - Gold: Greatest Hits 18. Live at the Old Quarter Townes Van Zandt 19. Saint Mary of the Woods James McMurtry 20. Let It Ripp Rippingtons

Bellaire (unique): 1. Come Away with Me Norah Jones 2. Room for Squares John Mayer 3. Home Dixie Chicks 4. Forty Licks Rolling Stones 5. Josh Groban

Pasadena (sales): 1. Come Away with Me Norah Jones 2. Josh Groban in Concert 3. Room for Squares John Mayer 4. Back in the U.S. Live 2002 Paul McCartney 5. Home Dixie Chicks 6. Frank Herbert's Children of Dune soundtrack

The skinny: Who woulda thunk that posh Bellaire and seedy Stinkadena would have such similar taste? Perhaps 'Dena's proximity to NASA is spurring sales of that Dune disc, or maybe the people who live there just wish they lived on another planet.

Enron (sales): 1. Brand New Day Sting 2. White Ladder David Gray 3. Supernatural Santana 4. Milk Cow Blues Willie Nelson 5. Everyday Dave Matthews Band 6. Human Clay Creed 7. Mad Season Matchbox Twenty 8. Maroon Barenaked Ladies 9. Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1 Jill Scott 10. Fly Dixie Chicks 11. Hotshot Shaggy 12. Riding with the King Eric Clapton & B.B. King 13. No Angel Dido 14. The Better Life 3 Doors Down 15. Music Madonna 16. Black and Blue Backstreet Boys 17. Red Dirt Girl Emmylou Harris 18. A Day Without Rain Enya

The Fall of Enron: A Tale in Titles: Everyday in that Mad Season the Enron employees prayed for A Day Without Rain. They hoped that some Supernatural force would save the company's stock from getting beaten Black and Blue. Don't leave us Marooned, they begged. Ken Lay said stick with me, kids -- don't you know you're Riding with the King? Everybody believed him -- the Chronicle said he wasn't made of Human Clay. Then Hotshot Jeff Skilling decided to Fly, and soon it was revealed that Lay was No Angel. When Sherron Watkins spoke up, Lay told her to eat Red Dirt, Girl. On the Music played -- tomorrow's A Brand New Day and The Better Life will return, sang Lay from high atop his White Ladder. Instead, in the end, the bull never returned and everybody was singing the Milk Cow Blues.

The skinny: Okay, we cheated a little -- the Enron list comes from an older sample. But still -- it's such fun we had to include it, and there was insufficient data in the latest sample.

Telling choices: Nothing shouts 25-year-old, cigar-chomping, martini-swilling energy trader like Shaggy's Hotshot. Also, Barenaked Ladies Maroon sold well only at colleges and Enron.

Et cetera: Three of the 11 top-selling books at Enron are about the fall of the company, and Krakatoa : The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 seems like an apt choice for a company that rivaled that unfortunate island.

Ivory Tower Tunes

Rice University (sales): 1. Come Away with Me Norah Jones 2. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Wilco 3. Home Dixie Chicks 4. World Without Tears Lucinda Williams 5. Chicago soundtrack 6. 1000 Kisses Patty Griffin 7. Back in the U.S. Live 2002 Paul McCartney 8. Fly Dixie Chicks 9. Don't Give Up on Me Solomon Burke 10. Sea Change Beck 11. Abbey Road Beatles 12. Specialist in All Styles Orchestre Baobab 13. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Howard Shore (composer) 14. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles 15. Wait for Me Susan Tedeschi 16. The Richest Man in Babylon Thievery Corporation 17. Kind of Blue Miles Davis

Baylor College of Medicine (sales): 1. Come Away with Me Norah Jones 2. Home Dixie Chicks 3. A New Day at Midnight David Gray 4. Back in the U.S. Live 2002 Paul McCartney 5. Fallen Evanescence 6. Let Go Avril Lavigne 7. Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors 8. A Rush of Blood to the Head Coldplay 9. Lullaby: A Collection Various artists 10. Missundaztood Pink

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