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He Picks The Songs That Make The Whole World Sing: Clive Davis Curates “The Soundtrack of My Life”

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Clive bookIn a year that counts Tommy Mottola, Cissy Houston, Burt Bacharach and Paul Anka among the music biz icons who have published, or will publish, their memoirs, one such figure’s autobiography has already made headlines: Clive Davis’ The Soundtrack of My Life.  The attorney-turned-music mogul took a no-holds-barred approach to chronicling his history, including his tenures at Columbia, Arista, J and the RCA Label Group.  This should come as no surprise to anybody who’s followed his illustrious and admittedly controversial career, but some readers might still be surprised at the sheer volume of remarkable musicians affected in one way or another by Davis’ “golden ears,” including Bob Dylan, Donovan, Lou Reed, The Kinks and Sean “Puffy” Combs.  Since his appointment by towering music industry leader Goddard Lieberson to lead Columbia Records in 1965, Davis has never stopped making waves with his bold, hands-on hitmaking style.

Now, as Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment (a position Davis has held since 2008 at the current parent company of all the aforementioned labels), Davis has teamed with Legacy Recordings to reflect on his career via a series of Spotify playlists with special commentary tracks.  Though it’s unusual here at this branch of Second Disc HQ to direct our readers to Spotify – after all, aren’t there plenty of amazing physical releases out there demanding your listening attention? – the opportunity to hear a venerable legend reflecting on his considerable C.V. isn’t one to pass up.  And Legacy’s “The Legacy Of” app, on which Davis’ playlists are featured, is a prime example of how the online streaming service’s offerings can complement a physical music collection.

Spotify users who navigate to “The Legacy Of” app will discover Davis as the Featured Artist.   The menu provides links to: Albums / Biography / Photos / Playlists / Discography. Head over to “Playlists” to listen or subscribe to six new playlists curated by Davis himself. Each is populated by artists with whom he has worked during his career at CBS Records (Columbia and Epic and their associated labels), Arista Records (including LaFace and Bad Boy), J Records and more.  You can directly visit the “Legacy Of” app at this link. Davis’ six playlists are entitled The Soundtrack of My Life, Best of 2000s, Best of 1990s, Best of 1980s, Best of 1970s, and Best of 1960s.  Naturally, the Soundtrack of My Life playlist is the one with commentary from Davis.  He has recorded reminiscences for fourteen of the playlist’s 20 tracks, and the playlist includes songs from many of the artists with whom he is most associated.

Which songs has Davis selected?  Hit the jump for details and more!

From the early Columbia years, you’ll hear Davis’ memories of Janis Joplin, the artist who led to “the moment that would change my life forever,” according to his autobiography.  Joplin, who Columbia President Davis first discovered at the Monterey Pop festival, is represented by “Piece of My Heart.”  He befriended Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and has selected their “Sounds of Silence.”  Sly and the Family Stone are heard with “Everyday People,” and Bruce Springsteen is represented by “Blinded by the Light.”  In his book Davis refers to Arista as “The House That Barry Built,” and so Manilow features with “Mandy,” while other key signings for Davis’ most famous label on the playlist include Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Patti Smith (“Because the Night,” co-written with Springsteen), Eric Carmen (“All By Myself”), Dionne Warwick (“I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” produced by Manilow), and Aretha Franklin (“I Knew You Were Waiting,” with George Michael).  Latter-day triumphs like Santana’s “Smooth” and of course, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” are also on the playlist.  All of these songs underline Davis’ unmatched ability to pair the right song with the right artist (Manilow with “Mandy,” Manchester with “Don’t Cry Out Loud”) and unerring commercial instincts (advising Springsteen to write a hit single, resulting in “Blinded by the Light”).  Each track also displays with links to the artist’s individual Spotify pages, with further selections available.

The Best Of 1960s playlist’s 15 tracks are devoted to artists with whom Davis was associated on the Columbia and Epic labels during the second half of the decade: Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin (two songs); Donovan; the Byrds; the Chambers Brothers; Sly and the Family Stone (two songs); Laura Nyro; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Chicago; Santana; Johnny Cash; the Hollies; Bob Dylan; and Simon and Garfunkel.

The Best of 1970s playlist (14 tracks) is divided evenly between CBS artists and Arista artists from that decade, beginning with seven diverse CBS artists from the Columbia and Philadelphia International rosters (Santana, Janis Joplin, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Aerosmith), then seven Arista artists (Eric Carmen, Barry Manilow, Melissa Manchester, The Outlaws, Patti Smith Group, Raydio featuring Ray Parker, Jr., and Dionne Warwick).

The Best of 1980s playlist (15 tracks) is all-Arista: Air Supply, the Alan Parsons Project, The Kinks, Billy Ocean, Ray Parker, Jr., Thompson Twins, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Carly Simon, Grateful Dead, Kenny G, Whitney Houston, Exposé, Taylor Dayne, and A Flock of Seagulls.

The Best of 1990s playlist (15 tracks) is also dedicated to Arista artists: SNAP!, Lisa Stansfield, Ace Of Base, Whitney Houston, Annie Lennox, Crash Test Dummies, TLC, Real McCoy, The Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy, Monica, Sarah McLachlan, Deborah Cox, Santana featuring Rob Thomas, and Toni Braxton.

Finally, The Best of 2000s playlist (14 tracks) is populated by J Records, Arista Nashville, and RCA artists from that decade through the present day: Alicia Keys (two songs), Rod Stewart, Brad Paisley, Christina Aguilera, Luther Vandross, Maroon 5, Leona Lewis, Kings of Leon, Whitney Houston featuring R Kelly, Brooks and Dunn, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Daughtry.

All playlists are streaming now at Spotify.  Davis’ memoir The Soundtrack of My Life can be ordered at this link, or in a special edition available at Target stores containing a CD of 12 selections, some duplicated on the Spotify playlist.  A track listing for that CD and the official Soundtrack Spotify playlist can be found below!

Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of My Life Spotify Playlist at “The Legacy Of” App

  1. “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin + commentary
  2. “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel + commentary
  3. “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone + commentary
  4. “Blinded by the Light” by Bruce Springsteen + commentary
  5. “Mandy” by Barry Manilow + commentary
  6. “Don’t Cry Out Loud” by Melissa Manchester + commentary
  7. “All by Myself” by Eric Carmen + commentary
  8. “Because the Night” by Patti Smith + commentary
  9. “All Out of Love” by Air Supply + commentary
  10. “Touch of Grey” by The Grateful Dead
  11. “I’ll Never Love this Way Again” by Dionne Warwick + commentary
  12. “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael + commentary
  13. “Why” by Annie Lennox
  14. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
  15. “Creep” by TLC
  16. “Smooth” by Carlos Santana featuring Rob Thomas + commentary
  17. “Falling” by Alicia Keys + commentary
  18. “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans
  19. “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross + commentary
  20. “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis

Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of My Life (Target-exclusive Book and CD edition)

  1. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel
  2. Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin
  3. Because the Night – Patti Smith
  4. All By Myself – Eric Carmen
  5. I Write the Songs – Barry Manilow
  6. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin and George Michael
  7. That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne and Friends
  8. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
  9. Smooth – Santana featuring Rob Thomas
  10. Fallin’ – Alicia Keys
  11. Dance with My Father – Luther Vandross
  12. All Out of Love – Air Supply

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