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.
"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 )
“The book shows why Davis holds a rarefied status in the music world — an executive almost as famous as his performers.” (Associated Press)