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The Soundtrack of My Life Hardcover – February 19, 2013


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The Soundtrack of My Life Playlist

Clive Davis on 12 Smash Hits

1. Piece of My Heart by Big Brother and The Holding Company

Janis Joplin approved my edit of the over four minute album cut to release a single of Piece of My Heart. The single became a big hit record and helped drive the “Cheap Thrills” album to number one.

2. Mandy by Barry Manilow

The song I found that started it all. When Mandy became a number one hit, Barry gave me two spots on each future album to submit outside songs. It led to our wonderful creative partnership that’s endured all these years.

3. Everyday People by Sly and The Family Stone

Sly Stone was a true pioneer. His brand of funky R&B tinged with rock and blues and even jazz was to influence a whole generation of musicians and composers. Everyday People is a quintessential example of Sly’s genius.

4. All By Myself by Eric Carmen

I flew to Cleveland back in the day to meet Eric Carmen and hear the songs he wanted to launch his solo career after leaving the Raspberries. The first song he played for me was “All By Myself”. I was knocked out by the song and the performance. This was a potential classic if I ever heard one and so I signed Eric right away.

5. People Have The Power by Patti Smith

At the height of her fame, after the big hit of Because The Night, Patti Smith got married to Fred Smith and disappeared to Detroit to raise her family. Then, as suddenly as she vanished, she reappeared years later in 1988 ready to record the Dream of Life album that included her future anthem People Have The Power. Patti Smith still had the power and the song is now a classic.

6. All That She Wants by Ace of Base

I signed Ace of Base on the power and originality of their record “All That She Wants.” They responded to my urging them to write more and they came up with a first listen smash “The Sign” and then we submitted to them “Don’t Turn Around” but it was the striking “All That She Wants” that triggered the contract signing.

7. Freeway of Love by Aretha Franklin

I had arranged for Narada Michael Walden to collaborate with Aretha on her 1985 album “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” It became Aretha’s first album to be certified platinum because Freeway of Love, co-written by Walden and featuring Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band on saxophone, became a huge crossover hit soaring to the top of the charts for Aretha.

8. Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston

When I auditioned Whitney during her mother’s act in 1983, she was already singing The Greatest Love of All, a song I had personally commissioned for the 1987 Muhammad Ali Biopic, The Greatest, for which Arista had the soundtrack album. I was stunned by Whitney’s performance, deep, expressive, soulful and emotional. She was finding meaning in the lyrics and melody that the composers, Michael Masser and Linda Creed, might not even have felt when they wrote it.

9. Smooth by Santana

When my A&R man Peter Ganbarg and I received a pulsating track written by Itaal Shur, we immediately heard it as a candidate for Santana. I sent it to Matt Serletic (Matchbox Twenty’s producer) to play for Rob Thomas. We got back the perfect demo of “Smooth” with Rob singing. I played it for Carlos who literally jumped for joy and they immediately went into record what has turned out to be an all-time hit record.

10. If I Ain't Got You by Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is a true renaissance young woman, writing, arranging, producing and performing. She writes standards and If I Ain’t Got You is one of her best, also winning for her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

11. They Can't Take That Away From Me by Rod Stewart

When Arnold Stiefel played for me what was to become the prototype for Rod Stewart’s first amazing Great American Songbook album I loved the concept but knew we’d have to work on arrangements for all but two songs. Richard Perry and Rod had totally captured “You Go To My Head” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” Those two cuts were perfect and they went straight into Volume I of the forthcoming phenomenal album series that would top the world’s album charts for years to come.

12. Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross

My association with Luther is one of the highlights of my career. Knowing that his career could still soar, we joined together and the song “Dance with My Father” is the pinnacle of our relationship. What a tragedy that it became a standard and award winning song and performance after Luther suffered his stroke, but Luther did survive long enough to become aware that Dance with My Father would be for the ages.

Review

“The Midas Touch. Until now, no one has written a book that reveals as much about the industry as Mr. Davis’ book does. It is hard to imagine a better survey of popular music during its 50 year commercial peak than this one.” (The Wall Street Journal)

"The pages of The Soundtrack of My Life are filled with fantastic scenes and revelations." (The Los Angeles Times)

“His enormous success comes from luck and a phenomenal gift for recognizing, nurturing and selling talent. His drive helped make him one of the most visionary music men. In his memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life, the man who guided stars from Springsteen to Houston shares the secrets of his success.” (People)

“Who put the bomp, Barry Mann asked in his 1961 single, in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Mr. Mann wanted to shake that person’s hand. For much of the 1960’s, 70’s, 80‘s 90’s and 00’s, a pretty good answer to that existential question was Clive Davis. As the head of Columbia Records and then Arista, the label he founded, Mr. Davis had a knack for introducing good singers to good material. The results tended to be explosive, as if he were dropping packages of Mentos into two-liter bottles of Diet Coke.” (The New York Times)

“There are so many incredible stories; this book is literally a walk through musical history.” (Ryan Seacrest)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476714789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476714783
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Geraldine Ahearn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music, Clive Davis, and Anthony DeCurtis, who holds a Ph.D in American literature deliver a fascinating biography of a brilliant man who devoted forty years to the music industry. Clive Davis portrays the story of his life, a colorful memoir of where it all began, and what led him to success. A man who gave everything he strived for to make his own dreams a reality, while working side-by-side with countless artists. In addition, Clive Davis tells the amazing stories never before revealed through the inside scenes of J Records in the evolution of the music business. This personal account of his life will make you smile, but will also tug at the heartstrings. As the music industry grew with recordings of popular music, Clive Davis worked closely with superstars, who became icons in music history. He is proud to tell of the special years as he helped Dionne Warwick, Barry Manilow, Whitney Houston, and many others. However, Clive Davis also tells about his struggles while growing up, his feelings as an orphan in high school, and what it took to get through college and law school. He describes his strengths as well as the obstacles that he endured as he began his own record company. His unique writing style, which is heartfelt and emotional, is also thought-provoking. This endearing memoir becomes more-and-more interesting as we read about his work with Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and other artists who climbed to the top of the charts. His experience through forty years of his career is valuable to the future success of the music industry. As the stars became icons, Clive Davis hosted the elite parties, while achieving his Lifetime Grammy award, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. Motivating, insightful, and entertaining. Highly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alan B. Weaver on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I just finished the book today...I almost wish it were twice as long, I enjoyed about 90% of the book. This is my review and also a response to other criticisms.

1) name dropping - when you're a man of his stature and worked with countless people, of course your'e going to see more than a few names mentioned. It's part of the music industry. He pats himself on the back and criticizes himself.

2) He's basically kind to everyone in the book - there are some criticisms of a number of people in the book, they come across as constructive. It's not a sleazy or gossipy tell all book.

3) Parts of it are a bit "dry" but that's part of his biography. He's talking about the music business. As someone who teaches business (would love to have my students read this book!) there are many lessons in it.

4) He seems to be honest and objective about his personal life regarding his divorces and his upbringing. The man is self made. I find it amazing how someone raised in lower middle class Brooklyn became a lawyer and then ran several music businesses. Some readers think he's an egomaniac. I'm sure he has a good sized ego (he's entitled as he's had a lot of success). (Maybe those people that gave the book one star are jealous?) The man is over 80 and still very sharp.

5) He's a contemporary person, realizing what the trends are and how to harness them. He's well attuned to what's going on today with the American Idol generation as well as an understanding of the business of music - from the artistry to the production to the marketing. It is a business.

I highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to know about the music industry over the past 50 years. I found it very entertaining, informative. I enjoy detail, others may wish to skim over it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on May 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you like music read this book. Probably the greatest record executive of the past 40 years and he does a great job of telling the full story here. What will receive the most interest is the chapters on individual stars like Janis Joplin and primarily Whitney Houston. Davis does a great job discussing his influence without attempting to take all the credit. It was interesting to hear his discussions on artists that wanted to write songs after an initial album not recognizing his input song selection may have been the key.

I read this shortly after reading Tommy Matolla's autobiography and found this to be a great combination book. Tommy's book is shorter and a lighter read. This book is longer and much more involved. They are both exceptional!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert B. Lamm on October 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to write this review - the book is more or less enjoyable, and Clive Davis comes across as a highly intelligent man who, despite his great success and the great wealth it has brought him, is rather well grounded. He's clearly grateful for his "ears" and adoring of the talents of the many singers he's helped to make prominent and famous. And unlike other books of this type, he does not bring venom to his discussions of people with whom he doesn't get along or from whom he's become estranged; he lays out the facts as he sees them and tries to be fair and charitable to others' positions.

The problem with the book is that once you get roughly halfway through this very lengthy book (just over 550 pages, excluding the index), the stories begin to sound alike. "And then I met...", "The next stage of my life...", and so on. There is a sameness to all of his stories, whether they concern raging success or disappointing failure. So at the end of the day, I'd have preferred some more judicious editing that would have made each of the "tracks" of his "soundtrack" a bit more significant instead of blending together like one big tub of margarine.

SPOILER ALERT

I also found it a bit odd that in the last 10 pages of the book he suddenly brings up his separation from his second wife, who goes largely unmentioned for several hundred pages (the oddness stemming, in part, from the fact that he talks quite a bit about his upbringing and his first wife early in the book, making it seem as though his second wife was peripheral to his existence), and then talks about his discovery of his bisexuality. This is not a criticism of his biesexuality - it's just that if it's an important aspect of his later life, as he suggests, why deal with it as if it's an afterthought?
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