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Posted 09.29.09

Clive Davis Shoots the Breeze About Connick CD

As a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and multiple Grammy winner, Clive Davis knows what makes a hit. The executive and producer's latest project, the Harry Connick Jr. covers album 'Your Songs, was born when Davis got the feeling that some of the 20th century's best songs were being forgotten over time. "I always try to stand for showing how long great songs can last, how they should go on and on," Davis told Spinner at Connick's showcase Tuesday night. "This project is to make an album of 14 incredible songs to show why they're great." Davis' first choice for the project was Connick, who he called "the best young singer of songs today." After Connick accepted, the pair met every Wednesday at 1PM in Davis' office to "shoot the breeze" for five to six hours at a time, and they didn't always see eye-to-eye. "He never collaborated before, so the idea was he would work on tracks in his studio then come in and sing them live for me. I would critique him, give him my feedback," Davis said. "He had never done that before, but we never came to shouting or blows. He went by it and after a day or two, he said 'You know, I've had a chance to absorb the feedback and you know something? I like it and I understand it.'" Despite Connick's long career, Davis also had to teach him a thing or two about modern music. "Talking to a musician steeped in jazz and New Orleans music, I had to really sing the virtues of some contemporary songs because he didn't know," Davis said. "Listen, I might do Whitney Houston and I've done some 'American Idol,' but I grew up on rock 'n' roll with Janis Joplin, Santana, Patti Smith, Lou Reed -- I could go on and on. Gently bringing him into some of the best of today's music has been very, very special. I keep my ears raw. I have never learned to read music, so I do it instinctually. I found this gift I had by luck where you get these tingles in your spine when you see Alicia Keys or a Bruce Springsteen, when you hear a hit song. Now you can hear 'Just the Way You Are' or Elton John's 'Your Song' done by Harry Connick Jr., inimitably and uniquely." In the end, Davis and Connick formed more than just a professional relationship. "He warmed up to it to such an extent that one day he called me up and said, 'This is has been such a life-changing, positive experience you've gotta meet my dad,'" Davis said. "His dad was the District Attorney of New Orleans and a musician, and sure enough, they came to my office for lunch, and I knew that he had not just connected in a professional way with this. It was a very special feeling. I feel grateful." Permalink