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Skin Crawling Monologue
on 23 March 2013
The problem with Clive Davis is that he's not an interesting person. Nor, despite his tiresome efforts to appear otherwise, is he artistic. Nor is he - ever - funny. When he isn't trying to talk up his A&R talents (em, basically Barry Manilow and Whitney Houston?) he's invariably name dropping in the most irritating, long-winded monologue. He's really a lawyer and in fact the best parts of this book are when he describes deals - the only field, in my opinion, where he's in command - convincing. This is a pig of a book. It's badly written and should have been liberally edited. The introduction is a comical turn off. All I could see as I struggled through it, was his ghost writer gritting his teeth and thinking of the money. I also imagined the publisher shaking his head thinking "oh jeez, hopefully his name will sell copies." Clive Davis doesn't engage in talking, he doesn't really appear interested in other people. He lectures. Everything comes back to him and how grateful some celeb was about some badly told incident.
Imagine a musically challenged, boring egotist talking about how important he was to the music business and you have an idea what this book is like. He's so obsessed with himself, his sense of historical perspective is warped. Just one example: he moans that his predecessor Goddard Lieberson dared to say (during the post Clive era in the mid seventies) that he, and not Clive, had first embraced rock music at Columbia. Which historically is true. Seminal Bob Dylan albums like Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde happened on Lieberson's watch, 1965-66. But for some unknown reason, Clive Davis talks like he started counter culture - just because he attended Monterey in 1967 and poached Janis Joplin in 1968 - about two years after the whole hippie scene exploded in Los Angeles. Clive Davis was a successful business man of no cultural significance.