Reviews for Soundtrack of My Life
Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #1
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. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Express Reviews
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.