Let’s agree not to quibble about whether our favorite recordings made it into the list. Just the sheer scope and breadth of this book would make it a useful resource. But Moon goes well beyond scope and provides a means of discovering great music that most of us would be unlikely to discover on our own. So to evaluate this book it is better not to ask ‘does it include what I like’, but rather ‘does it help me find great music to listen to’.

To give you an idea of what this book is like, here are the basic elements:

  • 1007 pages

  • general index: 65 pages

  • classical and opera performers index : 13 pages

  • classical and opera composers index : 5 pages

  • ‘occasions’ index, comprising ‘cocktail hour’, ‘get the party started’, ‘music to inspire reflection’, ‘romance enhancers’, ‘cardio workout’, ‘play this for the kids’, ‘roadtrip soundtrack AM’, ‘roadtrip soundtrack PM’, ‘lazy sunday morning’, ‘headphone journey’, ‘superman’s earbuds’.

  • genres index : 15 pages

Moon also includes a page listing sources of hard-to-find music. In addition you can visit, and the Amazon 1000 recordings site.

The 1000 recordings are albums, not individual tracks. Each entry includes a brief review, usually including the historical and musical context and history. The entry also includes the release year, publisher, key tracks, other titles from the same performer, and ‘links’ to related music.

Big warning here: this book can be a huge time suck. I’ve found myself opening the book just to find something to buy at the Amazon MP3 store, and two hours later I’m still browsing.

This book is worth the price, even if you are a very casual music listener (as I am).



Book cover

Metadata Info

  • Title: 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener’s Life List
  • Author: Tom Moon
  • Published: 2008
  • ISBN: 076113963X
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 5.0 stars