“If you’re gonna go wrong, go wrong big.” David Foster
Foster certainly lives up – or down – to his statement in this book which might have been subtitled Musings of a Megalomaniac. Yes, this one is all about record producer David Foster who makes millions but doesn’t get enough respect in the music trade. So he makes sure to drop names everywhere (Barbara and Marvin Davis often invited him to parties at their 25,000 square foot mansion) and to tell us essential facts, such as that he lives on 16-acres of prime land in Malibu in a home with 19 bathrooms. Oh, every now and then he feigns modesty such as when he spoke to a college’s music students and “somehow (managed) to let slip the fact that I’d won fourteen Grammys.” Charming.
I thought this would be a fascinating behind the scenes in the music business account, perhaps something like Geoff Emerick’s Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Beatles. Sadly, no it’s not. It’s a book in which Foster praises the musicians who consented to work with him and disses the ones who did not. The latter group includes the likes of Paul McCartney, Sting, Neil Young and Frank Sinatra.
There’s also more than a dose of whining: “I haven’t always been embraced by the upper echelons of the critical elite – they call it ‘wallpaper music’ or ‘elevator music’ or worse… Who I am is a guy who writes music that people make babies to – and I’m not going to apologize for it.” Fine, but he has some quirky opinions about what constitutes the best in music. He calls Celine Dion “the best singer on the planet.” OK, although not everyone would concur.
Now, ready for this? He says of Kenny G, “He’s a hell of a musician.” Kenny G? What’s likely the strangest statement in Hitman is this one about Michael Bolton, “The man is one of the greatest vocalists of all time.” Michael Bolton? Seriously? Once I read this I began to wonder if this entire book was a put-on, but apparently Foster’s being honest in his own way. Maybe… It certainly clears up the mystery as to why Foster’s had his run-ins, as detailed in Hitman, with Clive Davis – The Man with the Golden Ear.
Foster makes sure to express his self-pride at being a musician who, uniquely, has never used drugs. Great, but this does not stop him from talking trash and frequently dropping the “f” word around as in the phrase “f—-d up.” He also lets us know that he’s quite attractive which is why he tells us which one of his five daughters looks most like him. Right, she’s the most attractive one.
Good is the enemy of great. Paul Anka
Hitman is neither great nor good. On a scale of 1 to 5 musical notes, I give it 1 note. I’m feeling charitable today.
This book was loaned to the reviewer by Daniel D. Holt, co-author of Korean At A Glance from Barron’s.