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The Soundtrack of My Life

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  514 ratings  ·  105 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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,366)
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Jkhickel
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
...more
Michael
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
Nancy
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
...more
Mary
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
...more
David Mckinnon
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
...more
Candace
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
Tim
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
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
Spencer
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
Lynn Eldredge
I heard a great interview on Saturday.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/20...

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.
Hope
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
Kate
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
...more
Brad
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
Mark
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
...more
Debbie
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
...more
Stephanie
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
Janet
Mar 28, 2013 Janet rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janet by: Current bestseller
Shelves: memoir, non-ficton
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
Lynn
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 Fighters...it'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
...more
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
...more
Roger
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
...more
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
John Herrick
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.
Robin
I thought this would be a little more interesting than it was, and while some of the stories of the stars gave us inside information (Kelly Clarkson, Whitney Houston, & a few others), it was a little long-winded and I got a little bored. Ended up looking over the comprehensive index and going to topics that interested me the most. There was a personal revelation at the end, one that even though it's none of our business, was interesting for those of us with inquiring minds.

If extreme details
...more
Steve Cobleigh
The parts covering Janis Joplin are quite revealing. Same for Barry Manilow. I have a whole new respect for the "creative process" and a confirmation on most of these folks' vanity.
Marvin
Clives Davies's account about how great he is and how flawed most of the extraordinary artists he represented were! Very informative and at the same time repetitive.
Steve Peifer
What happens when the world's most boring guy has one of the world's coolest jobs? There was a chance this could have worked, but it really doesn't. If you are a fan of unintentional humor, he is also the whitest person on the planet, so the chapters on rappers are especially hilarious. And the 'revelation' of his personal life is the most disingenuous thing you will read this year; he is fooling nobody but himself.
Kristen Anderson
If you are a fan of music you will enjoy a lot of this book. I was curious about his ousters from Columbia and Arista, and about many of the artists he worked with. This was all covered in the book. However, at times he comes off very pleased with himself and has a habit of glossing over any successes artists on his label had that didn't directly involve him. For instance, Maroon 5s first album was on J but they moved labels after that, and he refers to them as having a "cold spell" even though ...more
Suzanne
This book was great for music lovers who want to hear the stories of the artists they grew up listening to! I also learned a great deal about more contemporary artists that I'm not so familiar with. While not a page-turning thriller, the writing is very conversational and easy to keep moving through. I'll admit, there were some chapters about artists that I wasn't particularly interested in but enjoyed hearing their stories nonetheless. These chapters gave me some insights and helped to dispel s ...more
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