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

The Soundtrack of My Life

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  620 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published February 5th 2013)
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 The Soundtrack of My Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Soundtrack of My Life

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,595)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 21, 2013 Jkhickel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really admire Clive Davis, and wanted to love this book. But sadly, the book descends into a mind-numbing repetitive pattern throughout its densely-packed 500+ pages:

(1) "X, who are very talented musicians, made a lot of money because they did what I told them to do."
(2) "Y, who are also very talented musicians, failed to make a lot of money because they refused to do what I told them to do."

If you're looking for colorful anecdotes about the many interesting musicians and artists that Davis w
When I began reading, I thought this would be a 4 star or better, but as I continued, my early enthusiasm declined. I did like the book and thought much of the info was interesting. Overall the text began to bore me a bit. Reading his memories reminded me of those stars who accepted a Grammy or Oscar as they stood before the audience and tried to thank every last person who was involved in their project. Don't let that discourage you from reading the book, because despite the sometimes dry prose ...more
Apr 17, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish the editor of this book had told Clive to "stop telling and start showing". This book had me aching for stories instead of facts and sales numbers. There was very little dialog or direct quotes from anyone. Instead, all chapters (after Clive's childhood years) are the same format: Clive first heard about artist X from John/Jane Doe and was blown away by the music. Then...contract details...then a list of each hit song, sales figures and awards won.
Three or four chapters like that are inte
Andrew Hicks
Sep 06, 2015 Andrew Hicks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a story in the Clive Davis memoir that goes like this:

Barry Manilow thought of himself as a singer-songwriter. He didn't want to record any outside music. But I didn't hear a huge smash hit on his second album, and his first album hadn't sold so great. So I talked him into recording this great song I'd found, "Mandy," which I'd renamed from its original title, "Brandy." I had Manilow record it at the tempo I wanted, in the key I wanted, then I got every radio station in the world to play
Jun 03, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, biography
When I first picked up the book at my local library and saw the size, I was like Geeze, I am going to need more than 3 weeks for this one; it's soooo big! Regardless, I started to read the book and the pages flew by!!

I'm going to put myself out on a limb and refute the negative reviews I read on this site. Seems like some people thought this book should have been a 'tell-all'. If Mr Davis is the professional that he is, it would never be such a book. ,y recommendation for those folks is to go pi
David Mckinnon
Apr 27, 2013 David Mckinnon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If one cares to learn how the music business operates, there is no better teacher than Clive Davis. He has not been a part of the recording industry, but he has lived it. Through the years he has strongly influenced Columbia Records, Arista, J, RCA, and BMG. He has backed other, lesser labels that gave us Rap and Hip Hop. He has been an advisor and a judge on "American Idol."

He has produced for and mentored Simon and Garfunkel, Barry Manilow, Air Supply, Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Santana, L
This book started out great. I enjoyed learning about his childhood in the 50's and how he felt after his parents deaths. I liked the personal stories and I wish there were integrated more throughout the book. He fell into a pattern of telling the reader story after story about the great artists he found and how successful they became. I wanted to know more stories about artist who were fantastic but were not a commercial success. I also wanted more about his life as he moved from decade to deca ...more
Jan 27, 2015 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a trek through much of the history of rock and roll with this instrumental man and all the acts he influenced. His journey and knowledge of music helped to bring their artistic skills to the market for our benefit. Its especially wonderful and important for us music affascinatos. 7 of 10 stars
Alretha Thomas
Jun 02, 2014 Alretha Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I've been thoroughly schooled on the music industry. This was a very fascinating read with indepth stories captivatingly told by Clive Davis about some of the biggest names in the music industry. The book also chronicles Clive's journey from his humble beginnings to becoming one of the most powerful and sought after excecutives in the music industry. It's amazing what Clive has done and the lives he has impacted. He can truly say his life hasn't been in vain. I also appreciate how he ...more
I have to say, for anyone who's a serious music trivia buff, this is an essential read. But what really got me was how the man went from transforming Columbia from a label mostly famous for Broadway schlock, classical, and a few big name jazz artists to one of the hippest labels in the world, with Dylan, Cash, Simon & Garfunkel, the Byrds, the United States of America, and on sister label Epic, Donovan, the Yardbirds, Sly and the Family Stone, etc., etc. to starting Arista and signing many o ...more
Bill Glover
Davis is no Ertegun, but he has had an amazing life and is full of stories that the American music fan will enjoy hearing. Once in a while he pushes back against the critic's claim the he just made pop hits/ran pop labels. Of course, his story convinces you that his chief aim was the extract as much in the way of sales and publicity as possible with attention paid to the artistic side of the business predominantly when it made the most financial sense. Davis is a very intelligent fellow who was ...more
Lynn Eldredge
Feb 27, 2013 Lynn Eldredge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heard a great interview on Saturday.

What an amazing book! I couldn't put it down. I love music and have so many of the records talked about in this book. It was nice he mentioned Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss and many others in the recording industry.
May 24, 2013 Hope rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Davis has a healthy ego, and that shines through in his book. If you can put that aside, though, it is very interesting to get a glimpse into the business and read some stories about iconic artists like Janis Joplin, Paul Simon, Santana and many more. Very readable and some great stories.
Joe Fahey
This was a fascinating book overall, inside the life of a record mogul, it did humanize that world to me. His early life was interesting, quite a brilliant person who lost both parents at a young age and worked hard to get the college and law school with academic scholarships. He was fan of the music of his day but not at the level where he or anyone would have guessed that would be his destiny. Of most interest to me was seeing how artists like Bob Dylan fit into the business scheme, the music ...more
Jan 16, 2014 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
My favorite chapters were the first few about his childhood and the last one, which also focused on his personal life. I think it would have been better to juxtapose more of this material throughout the book against the music industry stories; that way, we'd better understand who he was and why he became the man he did.

There are some juicy back-room stories and fun insights into famous musicians spanning many years. I also appreciated his clear love of his job. But too many details about contrac
Feb 13, 2015 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Not being of the music biz, yet loving music, I wondered what it took to make a record. Specifically, a pop record. What culminates to make that pop hook I just got addicted to? This book reveals it from a successful record executive perspective. As an added bonus, I learned what it means to be an executive - what they know, how they make decisions, and how it feels to make good decisions over time. The boldness of it strikes me. I also learned what a record "label" is vs a pa ...more
Aug 01, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although overly long, this book really doesn't deserve the mixed reviews it's gotten. The book begins in a pretty stereotypically auto-biographical way in that you get the first third of his personal life until he moves up the ranks of Columbia Records. After that the book oddly veers towards each chapter being devoted to a particular artist/genre which he uses to highlight a few years/era. The last third of the book finally reverts back to a pretty typical biographical format.

There are no 'ah-h
May 10, 2013 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult review to write because I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. Mr. Davis is certainly intelligent and articulate, and his contributions to the world of music over several decades are quite impressive. The problem is that he's extremely impressed with himself and unrelentingly lets us know that.

It's a shame, really, because he has worked with some of music's top names and has fascinating stories to share. His input has certainly helped launch many musicians to stardo
Clive Davis is a genius at promoting himself and his stable of musicians. He is an expert in music business management. He has assisted dozens of recording artist superstars in realizing their dreams of fame and fortune. He knows how to keep up with listener tastes, how to discover new stars, and how to resurrect the careers of aging stars. He lures readers by dangling the carrot of his relationships with the greats (such as Janis, Simon and Garfunckel, Aretha, Whitney, Springsteen, Puffy, and M ...more
Mar 28, 2013 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janet by: Current bestseller
Shelves: non-ficton, memoir
My initial reaction to Clive Davis' book was that he had a huge ego concerning his part in the success of his many artists: Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow and on and on. However,after understanding/learning more about his role as their mentor and producer, I would say that he was a key ingredient in their success. He is the salt on a wonderful steak or vanilla in a cake. You don't detect it's presence but you know something is wrong if it is not there. ...more
Jul 13, 2015 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A comprehensive narrative of Clive Davis' fantastical life in the music business as told by Clive himself. If you are a music fan this is the memoir for you. From discovering Janis Joplin to mourning Whitney Houston, from Barry Manilow to American Idol, and from Bob Dylan to Maroon 5 and the Foo's all here and so much more.

Davis briefly covers his childhood and how he went from his new career as a lawyer to taking a leap of faith into the music business (obviously his true calling
Laura Lynch

Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Barry Manilow, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys and Carrie Underwood are some of the many musicians that Clive Davis has either discovered or helped further develop as artists.

Clive’s biography follows the usual format, starting with his childhood then going through the years up into the present day. In some cases, Davis deviates from that style to devote whole chapters to certain musicians such as Whitney Houston. One of my favorites was the one dedicated to Santana’s Supern
Despite the regular moments of "I'm all that and a bag of chips in the music industry," this is an entertaining and readable account of his life as a music executive. He recounts plenty of inside moments with the stars to keep any entertainment hound happy. It also inspired me to look up some of the music of the stars he worked with, particularly those he cites as breakthroughs and of great influence in music history. Very enlightening to hear from an astute leader in music.
Feb 14, 2014 Roger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the first half of this book because I could relate to all the artists Davis signed. As a musician in a band in those days, our dream was to be signed by Davis, so it was interesting to see the process that he went through in signing those acts. It doesn't seem like even once he discovered an act on his own. They were always brought to him by either his own people or recommended by a powerful friend. So I don't feel so bad, since we were never seen by anyone very powerful.

The se
Dave Bartos
I could sum up this book in one sentence: "'You need a hit single,' I said in my bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, to this day." There's no doubt that Clive Davis is a hugely successful music executive, and this book was certainly full of great stories of his working relationship with the great artists of the last 50 years... But the narrative occasionally lapses into simple name dropping and sales statistics. Still his story is amazing, going from a corporate lawyer to a music mogul with a c ...more
Pamela Montano
Clive Davis has had a stellar career in the music business. We all know the hits; Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Janis Joplin, Santana The Grateful Dead and Barry Manilow, just to name a few. He also had the missed opportunities, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Aerosmith and John Mellencamp, all artists he failed to sign. The one thing I don't understand and I don't think he's being completely truthful about is Milli Vanili. I find it hard to believe that a man who is so "hands-on" dropped the bal ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adjectives abound as Clive Davis describes his work with artists from Janis, Dylan and Santana to Alcia, Jamie Foxx and Busta Rhyme. Ther descriptions of the evolution in the music industry both in the corporate structures and the medium (LPs to streaming) are really interesting, but the book is mainly about his work with the artists, finding them, signing them, picking hit songs for them, etc.
Chuck Mcilhenny
Clive became a master at discovering and shepherding pop and rock n roll talent from the mid-60s up until the early 21st Century...a real genius...just ask him...he takes about 540 pages to tell you just how great he is/was...

Interesting stories of the bands and projects he was involved with, but got a tad self-serving around the 250 page mark...a fun, if somewhat monotonous, read.
John Herrick
Mar 09, 2013 John Herrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
For years, I've wanted to read a Clive Davis memoir but never found one available that included his Arista years and beyond. Like Berry Gordy at Motown, Davis combined rare instinct for creative talent and a solid understanding of where each product would not just fit, but thrive, in the marketplace. Great insight from a man who officially discovered and helped steer the success of many artists, from Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan to Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys. You can often tell great leaders ...more
Danielle Stephenson
Truth be told I found this a bit boring. I wanted more juicy music industry gossip and less in depth discussion about the corporate business side of things. I found myself skimming through most of the book in all honesty and even doing that it took ages to read. Definitely overly long.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 53 54 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Hitmaker
  • Life Is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett
  • Days That I'll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
  • Ready for a Brand New Beat: How Dancing in the Street Became the Anthem for a Changing America
  • Billy Joel
  • Hitman: Forty Years Making Music, Topping the Charts, and Winning Grammys
  • Remembering Whitney: My Story of Love, Loss, and the Night the Music Stopped
  • To Be Loved
  • Fleetwood Mac: The Definitive History
  • The Universal Tone: My Life
  • The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun
  • VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave
  • Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV
  • The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerc e
  • Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman
  • There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll
  • One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band
  • To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight

Share This Book