“Music can dig, you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until it hits something.”
At first glance, “Daisy Jones & The Six,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid, reads like a rowdy, raunchy trip down the 70s rock and roll lane. There are the groupies and the partying, the music and the mayhem, but gradually, it turns into something more than just a story about a broken band. It turns into a story about broken people, broken dreams, broken promises and how easy it is to ignore what is right in front of you.
An anonymous writer has tracked down members of the biggest band of the 70s in the hopes of discovering what truly happened to them. Told entirely through these interviews, we learn about The Six, a middling rock band trying to make it big and Daisy Jones, a 70s hippie also trying to make it big. A brief collaboration between band and singer creates something so magical they decide to join forces and Daisy Jones & The Six is born. Our “author” tells us straight away the book is “an attempt to piece together a clear portrait” of the band yet gives us this warning: “This book serves as the first and only time members of the band have commented on their history together. However, it should also be noted that, on matters both big and small, sometimes accounts of the same event differ.” The truth to that statement is what makes “Daisy Jones & The Six”, both the fictional band and the book, enjoyable. I finished it in two days.
In almost all situations, everyone is misinterpreting everyone else’s comments and actions. Each band member filters the other’s ideas and words to fit their own narrative. And it’s not just miscommunication but an overall lack of any communication that dodges the bandmates. They all think they know what is going on with each other but never by asking that person directly. Billy avoids Daisy because she is a threat to his sobriety, but Daisy thinks it’s because he is in love with her. Daisy recalls the first day she walks in the studio “with a basket of cakes and… notebook full of songs”. Eddie recalls that day too: “Daisy showed up in a thin tank top and these tiny cutoff shorts. Barely covered anything.” Same situation, two entirely different viewpoints. The only two who seem to be in sync are Karen and Graham but come to find out, one really wasn’t listening to what the other was throwing out.
Yet this merry-go-round of thoughts and emotions works for them. Daisy Jones & The Six produce an iconic album called “Aurora” that rocks everyone’s world and propels them into mega–stardom. But this instant success doesn’t cure the demons some are hiding or the problems they continue to have with each other.
“It’s very vulnerable, being an artist, telling the truth like that, like we’re doing now. When you’re living your life, you’re so inside your head, you’re swirling around in your own pain, that it’s hard to see how obvious it is to the people around you. These songs I was writing felt coded and secret, but I suspect they weren’t coded and secret at all.”
The band takes to the road to promote their iconic album and in true rock and roll fashion, the underlying tension and anxieties build with each show. You can feel the band unraveling; Billy struggles to stay sober. Daisy self-hates by diving deeper into her addictions. The love and adulation showered upon them by the world aren’t enough to make them feel good about themselves. Like Daisy says, “It’s like some of us are chasing after our nightmares the way other people chase dreams.” When the end of Daisy Jones & The Six came I expected an implosion, but Reid was more delicate. She scatters them to the wind. We never really learn what the industry said about their demise. We don’t hear in great detail what they did the day or month after. Just like that, Daisy Jones & The Six is gone and their rock & roll ride is over.
Reid doesn’t leave us in total limbo—she wraps up everyone’s story nicely and quickly. There’s a bit of a surprise twist at the end when we find out the identity of the anonymous author. All the song lyrics from “Aurora” finish the book and just when I wished someone would record them, I learned it will actually happen. “Daisy Jones & The Six” has been picked up for a limited run TV Series. I’m counting on it to be a fun ride because while “Daisy Jones & The Six” is only Rock and Roll—I really liked it.