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Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives (2017)Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives (2017)

If you had to name one person who has had the greatest influence on popular music in the last fifty years, Clive Davis (born 1932) would be a good choice. After graduating from Harvard Law School, and then practicing law for five years, he joined Columbia Records at the age of 28. "My life changed forever," he recalls in this documentary about his sixty years in the business. His baptism of fire came at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival, which, he jokes, he attended in his white pants and tennis sweater. No matter. He remembers being "blown away" by Janis Joplin: "I know it's a cliche, but I felt my spine tingle. She was hypnotic."  He signed Joplin that night. And in the ensuing years he would sign everybody from Barry Manilow and Kenny G. to Notorious B.I.G., the 19-year-old Whitney Houston (the saddest part of this movie), and stars in almost every popular genre—rock, pop, country, urban crossover, punk, jazz, rap, and hip hop. Davis seems to have had a natural gift that he never knew he had, to identify and then match great songs with great artists, and then to development them. For the most part, Davis tells his own story, but the film also incorporates the insights of friends, industry experts, artists, and archival footage. I watched this movie on Netflix.

Dan Clendenin:

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