Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Clive by Don Silver #review

Title: Clive
Author: Don Silver
Publisher: Holloway Press, 2013

Don Silver offers a fascinating glimpse into the music industry of the early 1980s, which really drives home exactly how soulless the commercial offerings are. For posterity’s sake, it’s great to see how the business operated way back when, especially in the light of the technological advances that the industry as a whole has undergone.

But this memoir is more than just airing a bit of dirty laundry in a behind-the-scenes kind of way. This is also the story of Silver’s perhaps misplaced need to seek a mentor figure. It’s a tale of disillusionment too, and a sort of coming of age. While the music business side was informative, I saw this more as a work Silver engaged in to excise some of his own, personal demons related to his failure to thrive within the environment and time of his telling.

As much as Silver’s love for music underpins every waking moment of his life, it’s also clear that he never did quite “make it” in terms of being a commercial success. Underpinning all this is his exploration of the dysfunctional relationships around him—that of his parents, and later also how Silver relates to his wife and his somewhat egotistical boss, Clive Davis.

At the end I’m left with a sense of bitterness as Silver moves on to fresh opportunities. Overall, this is not a bad autobiographical account. The story is left open-ended, and I’m not quite certain what Silver’s purpose was: to recount a specific era and its events, or to revisit and work through past issues. Perhaps, even, this is a bit of both. All things considered, Silver’s tone is conversational, and the way he carries his recollections across makes it feel like an old mate has dropped by for a visit.

This work makes me wonder how commercial music has changed over the years and exactly how predetermined some of the “hits” are. If this account is anything to go by, true music aficionados are right to mistrust mainstream media. Silver has had time to sit back and reflect, and his tale is certainly an interesting one to hear out.

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