Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “So What: The Life of Miles Davis” as Want to Read:
So What: The Life of Miles Davis
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

So What: The Life of Miles Davis

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  248 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Musical genius, visionary artist, enigma -- more than ten years after his death, Miles Davis still looms large as a cultural icon. In this, the first new biography since Davis' death, John Szwed draws on various archives and never-before-published interviews with those who knew him to produce the richest and most revealing portrait of Miles Davis to date.
The shy son of a
Paperback, 496 pages
Published January 9th 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about So What, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about So What

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Peter Pinkney
Jan 15, 2017 Peter Pinkney rated it really liked it
A well written book that devotes equal space to Miles as a person, and Miles as a musician.
The person is troubled, but the musician is a genius.
I love the music, but not sure I can forgive him for punching John Coltrane....
Donny Truong
Mar 18, 2014 Donny Truong rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jazz
In the past few days, I immersed myself into the life of Miles Davis through the pen of John Szwed. I read from 10 pm (when the kids went to bed) until 1:30 in the morning, went to sleep with Miles in my head, and then got up at 5 am to read some more.

Even though I have read a numerous books on Miles including his autobiography, I find Szwed's So What enlightening. Most of Miles stories have been told before, but Szwed made some corrections through his extensive research and interviews of Mil
Jul 16, 2015 Eric rated it liked it
My quest to learn a little about jazz continued with this biography of Miles Davis. And yes, I learned a ton about the music. I also learned that Davis was a monumental asshole. The strength of the biography is in these two areas--the musical history and clear explication of the different styles of jazz, and the honest portrayal of the artist as monster.

I would have been happy with a little more critical take on Miles's last fifteen years when he pretty much phoned it in and also won a handful o
Jan 27, 2016 Cocaine rated it liked it
Miles Davis, like many a creative soul, in fact like the majority of human beings, was a multi-facted personna. On one hand he was a near genius musician; an exemplary example of those rare talents who always continue to 'push the envelope' throughout their careers. He produced some of the greatest albums of the 20th century and managed to fuse two musical genres forming what we now refer to as 'fusion jazz. He was both god and demon. A man with drive and vision. All the individual bits that cam ...more
David Rullo
Jul 20, 2013 David Rullo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time I've read this book. The first was in college. Of all the Davis bios I've read this is my favorite, especially now that I'm much more familiar with his entire body of work. Szwed presents a complete picture of the man, warts and all. You read about the drugs, his mistreatment of women, his ignoring of his family and so much more. You also gain insight into his works, his musical explorations, his painting. If you have any interest in Miles Davis at all skip the autobiogra ...more
Jan 27, 2013 Hoagie rated it really liked it
Szwed has provided a good overview of Davis, his personal relationships and how they influenced his creative process, from formative years through his final days. As a musician, I was pleased with the attention to detail regarding the music itself.
Jun 27, 2007 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose my opinions of this would be different if I had read other miles bios before reading this. it was thorough, but full more of impressions than facts, and I liked it for that.
May 08, 2013 Aj rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I need to fins another bio, because this one left me wanting more. I don't feel like I read anything personal about the man.
Sep 23, 2011 Djordje rated it it was amazing
In my opinion, the finest, most elegant biography of The Man yet.
Rich on historico-cultural aspect as well, the writer never underestimates his reader.
Highly recommended.
Mar 28, 2013 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Very good --- Account of Davis' life and contributions to music. He was a bastard as is told in this well written account.
Djll rated it it was amazing
Jul 31, 2009
John rated it it was amazing
Dec 09, 2016
Meg rated it really liked it
Aug 02, 2016
Jinan Justin
Jinan Justin rated it it was amazing
Jul 14, 2013
Fede Hunte
Fede Hunte rated it it was amazing
Aug 27, 2016
Doug Holbrook
Doug Holbrook rated it liked it
Sep 05, 2012
Clemens Handler
Clemens Handler rated it it was amazing
Jul 23, 2014
Tay rated it liked it
Sep 28, 2012
Joseph Rozner
Joseph Rozner rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2013
Marcus rated it really liked it
Mar 14, 2008
Mylo rated it really liked it
Nov 25, 2012
Nick rated it it was ok
Dec 27, 2011
Danielraimi rated it liked it
Jul 14, 2008
Craig Turner
Craig Turner rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2015
JsjKindle Justianto
JsjKindle Justianto rated it it was amazing
Dec 21, 2007
Tim Singh
Tim Singh rated it really liked it
Jul 03, 2012
BJ  McMillan Graham
BJ McMillan Graham rated it really liked it
Jan 18, 2017
Yusuf Paniti
Yusuf Paniti rated it it was amazing
May 18, 2015
Tony Nielsen
Tony Nielsen rated it liked it
Feb 15, 2011
flynn rated it really liked it
Dec 15, 2011
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Visions of Jazz: The First Century
  • Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography
  • Kind Of Blue: The Making Of The Miles Davis Masterpiece
  • Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus
  • Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock 'n' Roll
  • Ascension: John Coltrane And His Quest
  • Bob Dylan Performing Artist 1960-1973 The Early Years
  • Hear Me Talkin' To Ya
  • The Death of Rhythm and Blues
  • The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings
  • As Though I Had Wings: The Lost Memoir
  • Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
  • Waiting for the Sun: Strange Days, Weird Scenes, and The Sound Of Los Angeles
  • The One: The Life and Music of James Brown
  • Stomping The Blues
  • Divided Soul: The Life Of Marvin Gaye
  • All Yesterdays' Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print, 1966-1971
  • Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta

Share This Book