Columns generate enlightening responses.

In response to a column I wrote two weeks ago about the variety of fans who converged on Salt Lake for the World Cup-qualifying soccer match between the United States and Costa Rica, Jim Moorhouse, the director of communications of U.S. Soccer, wrote:

"Your column got me to thinking just where everyone was coming from for the USA-Costa Rica match. I had our ticketing people track down some numbers, and here is what we found:

"— 46 states, plus the District of Columbia, were represented (including Hawaii and Alaska.) The states not represented were Iowa, Mississippi, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

"— Additionally, three countries outside of the U.S. were represented by ticket buyers (Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom.)

"— in Utah, 149 cities were represented.

"We have tracked this information before, and I don't remember ever seeing as many as 46 states represented. Quite amazing. In fact the entire week was amazing for U.S. Soccer and is still being talked about in our office in Chicago. It was truly a top 5 (maybe even top 1, 2 or 3, depending on who is being asked) event that we have ever staged."

Then there was this much shorter e-mail response to last week's column on Michael Jackson, where I noted that Jackson's 1983 album, "Thriller," is the biggest-selling record album of all time. "Mark" wrote succinctly: "The Eagles Greatest Hits" is now No. 1; "Thriller" is No. 2."

But, then, it depends on whether you're talking about America or the world.

According to reports on the Internet citing numbers provided by the Recording Industry Association of America, the all-time top-selling album in the United States is indeed "The Eagles Greatest Hits," with 28 million copies sold. "Thriller" is next at 26 million, followed by Pink Floyd's "The Wall" at 23 million, "Led Zeppelin IV" at 22 million and "Greatest Hits" by Billy Joel at 21 million.

Worldwide totals, however, according to numbers attributed to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, have "Thriller" in a commanding lead with 59 million copies sold over the past 22 years. "The Eagles Greatest Hits" is tied for second place with "Back in Black" by AC/DC, both at 42 million. No. 4 is "Saturday Night Fever" by the Bee Gees with 40 million in sales, followed by a tie between "Bat Out of Hell" by Meatloaf and the soundtrack to "The Bodyguard" by Whitney Houston, both at 37 million.

"The Bodyguard" soundtrack, by the way, is tied for 10th place on the U.S. list, at 17 million, while "Back in Black" is No. 6 in America (19 million) and "Bat Out of Hell" is 25th (14 million). "Led Zeppelin IV" is ninth on the world list at 32 million. The biggest disparity between the two lists is Billy Joel at No. 5 in America but just 58th in the world. Another contrast is that Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" is No. 7 on the world list at 35 million copies, but in America "Dark Side" is just 18th, while the same group's "The Wall" is No. 3.

Different nations, different tastes.

The Beatles, as a side note, are tied for sixth on the U.S. list with "The Beatles" album at 19 million copies, and ninth on the world list with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

As for most gold and platinum albums of all time, the Beatles are third with 39, Barbra Streisand is second with 46 and Elvis is still the king with 80 — although none of his albums rank among the top 50 biggest sellers.

Amazing what you can learn when you're trying to learn something else.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to and faxes to 801-237-2527.