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Normally, I'm not big on "best of" lists, though I've certainly created and read plenty of them. They have their place, which is really just to attract eyeballs and generate discussion, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

However, they are completely subjective, and should only be attemped by professionals. I kid.

Recently, a couple of music-loving friends whom I respect a great deal came up with the idea of getting together to discuss the top three albums that mean the most to each of us. I won't share their lists because our discussion was private, but I will say I found it meaningful that each of us understood the task without having to discuss it: the three albums — not songs, not performers, not favorites (necessarily) — that occupy a place in our lives and that somehow changed us or the way we saw things.

We conceived of the list idea as a reason to get together and drink a beer, but I assume you knew that. It also gave us something to talk about other than you-know-what or you-know-who.

My list features Joan Armatrading's "Me Myself I," Lynyrd Skynyrd's "One More from the Road" and The Clash's "Sandinista."

I wouldn't say that the Skynyrd album is a favorite, nor have I listened to it in a long, long time, but as a pre-teen and early teenager it was the first one I listened to that was not because of any influence of my two older, musician brothers. In fact, they hated the band, but my friends loved them, so it was kind of a bridge to finding my own way. Plus, it's a fun record and a really good live album.

The first concert ticket I ever bought was to see them at Memorial Auditorium. Sadly, their plane went down about three weeks prior, killing three members of the group. I got my $7.50 back but now wish I'd kept that ticket.

My brother Bob turned me onto Armatrading, telling me that the British singer-songwriter had been called "the female Van Morrison." Her chart-topping sixth studio album, "Me Myself I," is a great record that I listen to all the time, and it was eye-opening for me because she was not a radio darling. The idea that great music was being made that never made it onto the radio was pretty game-changing for me at the time.

For my final pick, I could just as easily have named "London Calling" by The Clash, but I played the "Sandinista" cassette tape in my VW Fastback about 1,000 times and loved how different it sounded. Like my other two top albums, it took me to a place I wasn't familiar with, and it made me want to discover other new sounds and artists.

I could have chosen "The Blues Brothers" soundtrack for that same reason. That album was a complete gateway record for me. Finding out that the guys behind TV stars Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in the band — Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, "Blue" Lou Marini, et al — were actually super-talented artists, made me research further. Through that digging I discovered guys like Delbert McClinton, and eventually made my way to Robert Johnson and other blues greats.

Now, it's your turn. What are your top three?

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