Sunday, April 14, 2019

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six is the type of novel I seldom select. Novels about drugs, celebrities, and rock rarely attract me. However, novels that feature addictive writing, passionate characters, and propulsive storylines always grab me. Because so many people I respected were talking about Daisy Jones & The Six, I picked it up after dinner one night planning to read just the first chapter. Three hours later, engrossed in the book, I forced myself to go to sleep. When I awoke the following morning, I immediately began reading and didn’t stop until the tears began rolling down my cheeks as I devoured the final pages of a novel that captured me hook, line, and sinker.

Daisy Jones & The Six immerses the reader into the life of Daisy, a singer experimenting with sex, drugs, and the party scene, in late sixties Los Angeles just as her voice begins to gain her recognition as something special.  It presents the parallel story of The Six, a band led by stubborn singer/songwriter Billy Dunne. The novel blends both tales when a producer sees that putting Daisy and Billy together is the key to creating a unique sound that audiences will love and that more importantly will sell records and sell out concert venues.

What propels the novel and makes it impossible to leave, even for an instant, is that it’s told as an oral history “compiled and edited from conversations, emails, transcripts, and lyrics” by the author narrating it from behind the scenes. This makes the book feel as if the reader has fallen into a rock documentary film. When you read Daisy Jones & the Six, you are embedded into the ethereal world that was the 1970s music scene replete with the energy, creativity, passion, and insecurity that made it so fragile.

The tension between Billy and Daisy and their recognition of each other as both talented and threatening is shown here:
“BILLY: I could tell, as we were singing it, that we had everybody. When the song finished, the crowd started screaming, I mean actually screaming.
DAISY: I just knew, at that show, that we had something special. Just knew it.
            And it didn’t matter how much of an asshole I thought Billy was. When you can sing like that with someone, there’s a small part of you that feels connected to them. That sort of thing that gets under your skin and doesn’t easily come out.
            Billy was like a splinter. That’s exactly what he was like.”

Billy was the leader of The Six and he had big plans. Just before the band was to embark on its first tour, Billy found out that his girlfriend Camila was pregnant. Billy, Camila, and two other band members explain:
“BILLY: The moment I knew she was pregnant I felt we had to make sure we were a proper family.
CAMILA: Karen knew an ordained minister. She got his number from a friend of hers and we called him late that night. He came right over.
EDDIE: It was four in the morning.”

After the wedding:

“KAREN: They kissed each other and I could tell Camila was tearing up. Billy picked her up into his arms. He ran her upstairs and we all laughed. I paid the minister guy because Billy and Camila forgot to.”

Billy’s picking Camila up and carrying her up the stairs is exactly the way the novel picks up its readers and carries them away to a land of romantic tension, rock music, strong women, substance abuse, and the difficulty of protecting artistic integrity. That Billy forgets to pay the minister illustrates how he forgets about everyone except himself and how he doesn’t have an inkling of what’s going on around him. Daisy, with her unrelenting ambition to write her own songs and to be her own person, doesn’t see beyond herself either, especially to notice how she changes the band dynamic. The combination of these two immovable rock stars on a collision course makes for a dynamic, unique, staccato-paced novel that isn't ultimately about rock 'n roll, celebrities, or drugs. It's about us. It's a novel that shows readers how to be authentic humans in a world that seldom values love and sacrifice over celebrity.

Summing it Up: Daisy Jones and The Six is a magnificent novel that you’ll read in a day and remember forever. I still have trouble believing that it’s fiction as the characters are absolutely real to me. Fall into the surreal world of 1970s rock ‘n roll with a cast of talented, determined, headstrong, and ultimately endearing characters.


Rating: 5 stars   
Category: Fiction, Five Stars, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Sushi, Book Club
Publication date: March 5, 2019
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