Monday, May 20, 2013

Miles:The Autobiography by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe

I’m on the verge of labeling this the best autobiography I’ve ever read. It’s kept me enthralled for over a month and I only paid $1 for it at what I have officially deemed The Best Book Sale Ever. If I had to rank the best entertainment for the money spent, this book would be right at the top of the list.

Personality is written all over this book. The writing is commendable and the content is captivating. I’ve read many autobiographies and it never seems like the entire story. True, a lifetime is a lot to capture in one book. But after reading Miles: The Autobiography, I feel there is nothing left to be said about Miles Davis.

There are many lessons in this book but due to the excitement and shock value, you’ll miss it if you aren’t paying attention. Davis discusses what it takes to start at the bottom and make it to the top. Then he discusses the transition from being a trailblazer to being someone that had to reinvent himself to stay relevant.

Seemingly the most transparent autobiography I’ve read, Davis comes clean on his uninhibited lifestyle and lifelong addiction with drugs and alcohol. He dishes the most intimate details on the biggest names in the music and entertainment industries, many still relevant today. He gives the play by play on what was really happening on stage and in the studio during the recordings of his most popular albums.

Something Davis emphasizes, indirectly, is the need for African Americans to write our own history. When we leave other people to tell our stories, it may or may not be the whole truth. This was also emphasized in Life Beyond Measure by Sidney Poitier and by the authors of “A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable's Malcolm X".

The book ends with an impressive 6 page discography which is a comprehensive list of Davis’ work from 1945-1989. A round of applause to Quincy Troupe for pulling together this brilliant account of the life of Miles Davis. I look forward to reading The Pursuit of Happyness, an autobiography he wrote with Chris Gardner which I’ve had for several years now.

“ I would go to the library and borrow scores by all those great composers, like Stravinsky, Alban Berg, Prokofiev. I wanted to see what was going on in all of music. Knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery, and I just couldn’t believe someone could be that close to freedom and not take advantage of it.”
Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis