The Soundtrack of My Life

The Soundtrack of My Life

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by Clive Davis
     
 

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In The Soundtrack of My Life, music legend Clive Davis recounts an extraordinary five-decade career in the music business, while also telling a remarkable personal story of triumphs, disappointments, and encounters with some of the greatest musical artists of our time, including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Simon&Garfunkel, Barry Manilow, the Grateful Dead,

Overview

In The Soundtrack of My Life, music legend Clive Davis recounts an extraordinary five-decade career in the music business, while also telling a remarkable personal story of triumphs, disappointments, and encounters with some of the greatest musical artists of our time, including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Simon&Garfunkel, Barry Manilow, the Grateful Dead, Patti Smith, Whitney Houston, Carlos Santana, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, and Alicia Keys.

Orphaned in his teens, Davis earned a full scholarship to New York University and another to Harvard Law School. He served as General Counsel of Columbia Records and, in a totally unexpected stroke of fate, became head of the company overnight. More surprisingly, he learned he had “ears,” a rare ability to spot special talent and hit records. Those ears contributed to the success of three companies—Columbia, Arista, and J—where Davis dis­covered and developed more unique artists than anyone in the history of the music industry.

What began on the grass at the Monterey Pop Festival with the signing of Janis Joplin has evolved into a lifelong passion and calling, spanning genres, including rock, pop, R&B, country, jazz fusion, and hip-hop. His is the imprimatur that has helped shape contemporary music and, over the years, our popular culture.

The Soundtrack of My Life is an essential book for anyone interested in the story of popular music, the fascinating ups and downs of the music business, the alchemy of hits, and the dramatic life of a brilliant leader...and listener. It is a riveting read from beginning to end.

Editorial Reviews

Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Alicia Keyes, Simon & Garfunkel, Lou Reed, Carlos Santana, Jennifer Hudson, Aretha Franklin, The Grateful Dead, Patti Smith, Kelly Clarkson.... The honor roll of Clive Davis' music discoveries and associates goes on and on and on. His autobiography displays the intelligence and professional savvy of an exceptionally retentive octogenarian. Perhaps not surprisingly, the story of his own life emerges as just as fascinating as that of his musical finds: Orphaned at fourteen and left to his own devices, he pieced together his own success, winning scholarships and launching his own business. Star-studded; certain to receive major reviews.

The Washington Post - Jen Chaney
…the 80-year-old hitmaker who has launched and reignited a staggering number of high-profile music careers…probably doesn't care about wowing anyone with his capacity to turn phrases. What he does care about is ensuring that his version of industry history gets documented, in permanent, published ink. On that front, he's done his job…Soundtrack will undoubtedly be listed as required reading on many History of Pop Music college-seminar syllabuses.
People
“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.”
Ryan Seacrest
“There are so many incredible stories; this book is literally a walk through musical history.”
The Wall Street Journal
“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 New York Times
“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 Los Angeles Times
"The pages of The Soundtrack of My Life are filled with fantastic scenes and revelations."
Associated Press Staff
“The book shows why Davis holds a rarefied status in the music world — an executive almost as famous as his performers.”
From the Publisher
“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 pages of The Soundtrack of My Life are filled with fantastic scenes and revelations."

“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.”

“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.”

“There are so many incredible stories; this book is literally a walk through musical history.”

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

Library Journal
In more than 50 years in the music business, Davis has discovered such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, and Barry Manilow. Born into a working-class family in Brooklyn, he won scholarships to New York University and Harvard Law School and eventually landed a job as legal counsel for Columbia Records. He was handed the presidency of the company by chance, and it was then he learned he had “ears”: the ability to spot talent and create hit records. The first artist Davis signed was Scottish folk singer Donovan in 1966, but he established himself with Janis Joplin, whom he signed after being blown away by her performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. From there, he went on to work with everyone from Billy Joel to Luther Vandross to the Grateful Dead and had successes on his own with Arista Records and then J Records, which he founded in 2000. Of course, his relationship with Whiney Houston (1963?2012) is well known, and he devotes a chapter to her that begins, “Without question this it the most difficult chapter for me to write.” At 81, Davis is still going strong and working on a Broadway musical.

Verdict An important addition to the literature of American music and an essential title for anyone who enjoys insider stories about famous musicians. [The S. & S. audiobook also received a starred review, LJ 5/1/13.—Ed.]—Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Revealing, entertaining account of the fortunes--almost always waxing--of the music mogul. Writing with ace Rolling Stone journalist DeCurtis, Davis recounts his rise from an impoverished Brooklyn childhood to heading Columbia Records and other labels. That rise came by way of hard work and attendance at Harvard Law School, where he qualified for the Review but, ever entrepreneurial, joined the activities board because the post offered a small stipend. As counsel to Columbia, he found that he had an ear for music and an eye for talent, and from there, he rocketed upward. In his tenure at Columbia and Arista, Davis discovered many artists and elevated many others, and he is gracious toward almost all, if carefully so: Paul Simon, we gather, is prickly, and Whitney Houston was a constant handful (about The Bodyguard: "She held her own, but you couldn't say her performance was inspiring"). Davis is also remarkably catholic in his tastes, having worked with everyone from Miles Davis to Laura Nyro to Johnny Cash to the Grateful Dead to Sean Combs and his coterie of rappers ("When I went to artist showcases or parties Puffy threw for his label's stars in clubs around the city late at night, I never once brought a bodyguard"). The anecdotes are fun to read, if seldom newsworthy; what is of greater value is Davis' detailing of how hits are made. As he writes, "I think there's a bit of confusion between pop music and pop success," adding that although the Dead and Patti Smith, and even Aretha Franklin, weren't pop artists, he was able to work his magic on them to produce hits--and lots of money. A touch overlong, but a pleasure to read, elevated and mensch-y at the same time.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476714806
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
02/19/2013
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
608
Sales rank:
268,746
File size:
85 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Clive Davis is the Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music. He has worked with innumerable musical stars and media personalities. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he attended New York University and Harvard Law School.
Anthony DeCurtis is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where his work has appeared since 1980. He has written for numerable music and entertainment magazines and newspapers. A former on-air correspondent and editorial director at VH1, he has contributed to a myriad of television specials and programs. DeCurtis holds a Ph.D. in American literature from Indiana University and he teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and the Gradudate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

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The Soundtrack of My Life 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Music is just one side of this walk down history, Clive has a way with words and vividly brings the reader through so many amazing moments in his life. The Artistry he helped over the years? fantastic. You can't imagine how creatively you need to be there for an artist to achieve the best they can be. Time and time again it shows that Clive rebounded from adversity, from leaving Columbia Records, Starting Arista Records, then being forced out and having to start J Records. An accomplishment so great, BMG then merged RCA, Arista and J and put him in charge of the company. Clive is an amazing voice and the stories about business, creative minds and a window into history of music is unmatched by any other Autobiography I can think of. Also, he gets personal. The life in music from the 60's through today shows Clive is the last of his kind and an artist in his own way. The greatest of the music executives and a real creative soul. It is an amazing read from one of the classiest men ever in the creative world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a great read! This is the definitive book on the last 50 years of contemporary music, and a great American tale. I truly enjoyed the rags to riches narrative that the first half of the book was. It opened with an inside look at the Pre Grammy party, an event I have always looked at and hoped the curtain, one day, would be raised.  The early years I read with wonder, too young to remember the artists other than on oldies radio. I was riveted and learned so much about music history.  The second half of the book was a comeback story of epic proportions. Corporate battles, artistic tragedies and triumphs.  The book is encyclopedic at times, but I suppose it has to be for a 50 year career. This is a  must read for anyone interested in business or music.
Anonymous 5 months ago
What a disappointment this was. What a missed opportunity to memorialize the beginnings and growth of rock & roll as a cultural phenomenon. Shallow, superficial, simplistic, self serving and inane only begin to describe this book. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, and even though I almost always force myself to wade through bad books, this one may be the exception. Beyond the lame writing and his self promoting proclamations of his music business awesomness - what is most disturbing is his apparent cluelessnes when it comes to his clients' drug & alcohol problems. Lemme see..... he informs us he is very, very close with Janis Joplin. He adores her. In fact, they are buds. She even phones him to get personal & contractual advice. They hang out together at parties and dinners. But he is shocked, (shocked I tell you!), to hear she has OD'ed. Huh? Really? And I havent even gotten to the Whitney Houston death. I'm just glad on got this in the special clearance bin..... and now I know why this 500+ page of bound drivel was there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Davis is surely a unique personality in the record business. Unfortunately the book comes off as repetiously self congratulatory. He's got plenty to brag about but it just wore me down. I couldn't get past 320 pages.
songman More than 1 year ago
Clive Davis is one of the most successful and creative music executives the world has seen. He takes you on a behind-the scenes journey that gives the reader insights into the hits that we all know. It's easy to see why this genius has helped guide so many artists to reach their full potential. Wonderful executive, wonderful human being and a down to earth mench.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit basic and boring
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Larry-Dvoskin More than 1 year ago
Clive Davis has been a gift to this world. He, like Steve Jobs and others has done the impossible- made a dent in the Universe. he's brought so much great music, nurtured so many great talents for so many years, where to start? Im sure there are 5 other books filled with more stories he could have written. I am a professional songwriter, classically trained musician, Grammy nominee who knows the man, yet never worked with him. I hope someday to serve the world by spreading the LOVE that is MUSIC, the nectar of the Gods, with even a fraction of the accomplishment. We each leave a legacy. Clive's is the love and nurture of music- music is the tonic which heals us, feeds our souls, and shines light upon the world each day. Bravo!
beth91 More than 1 year ago
The book was very good. I gave a very deep look into the world of music and show business. Clive Davis writes a waarm and loving story of his carear in the music world. Randy Beth Goldfarb.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read on the life of a music legend. It's required reading for anyone who is into music. Truly inspiring!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for the sound bites you hear in interviews, the actual book is so very wordy and boring. Reminds me of someone who just likes to hear themselves talk...but written that way.