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Week Sixteen : Daisy Jones and The Six

I first noticed this book a couple years ago, when my friend Kevin was reading it. It looked intriguing, but as I looked more closely into it, I saw that it was written as an oral history, and that was off-putting. I had listened to the audiobook of Live From New York, and found it jumpy and hard to follow. I feared that this book would suffer similarly.

Years passed. Frankly, I had kind of forgotten about it, but lately it kept showing up on blogs. Every week, it seemed, someone was picking it for one list or another. Everyone who read it raved about it. “It’s SO good!!!” seemed to be the general consensus. And then I saw that there is a TV series forthcoming, and I thought that I should at least TRY to read it before I’m spoiled by the information that will inevitably leak.

So, I grabbed it from the library a couple weeks ago…and, once again, forgot all about it.

On the 20th, I got the library notice that it was about to expire and thought, ok. Really, it’s now or never.

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Y’all.

I’m so rarely at a complete loss for words. According to my baby book, I said my first word at five months, and the joke, en famille, is that I haven’t shut up since. Give me a topic, and I can riff for hours.

But I find myself totally unable to explain this book. I can tell you that I loved it, but I’m not exactly sure why. I can tell you that it made me laugh out loud, but it’s really more tragedy than comedy. I can tell you that the end was a gut punch, but that was more because it ended at all, and not necessarily because of how.

“I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse. I am not the muse, I am the somebody.” —Daisy Jones

I can’t even tell you what it’s about—not really. On the surface, it’s the story of an addict who seems like he wants to be a rock star, but really wants to be the man that his wife and kids think he is. It’s the story of the woman who refused to be his—or anyone’s—muse, but who pushed him to greatness none-the-less. It’s a story of a bunch of fairly ordinary people who for a minute find themselves in an extraordinary circumstance, and how they each handle the rise and the inevitable fall.

It’s also about three very different women who refuse to be stereotyped, and what happens when they simply stand quietly in their own power.

In the end, though, it’s a love story, but it’s not the one you think it is, or even the one you want it to be. To say more ventures into serious spoiler territory, but I will say that the ending was both completely perfect and yet shockingly unsatisfying.

Kind of like life.

“You have these lines you won’t cross. But then you cross them. And suddenly you possess the very dangerous information that you can break the rule and the world won’t instantly come to an end. You’ve taken a big, black, bold line and you’ve made it a little bit gray. And now every time you cross it again, it just gets grayer and grayer until one day you look around and you think, There was a line here once, I think.”—Billy Dunne

The story is informed by the stories of a fair number of real people. Fleetwood Mac is the obvious—and author-confirmed—inspiration, but there’s also a fair amount of barely-disguised Eagles, especially the Felder-Frey backstage fist fights, Randy Meisner’s decision to walk away from it all at the peak of his fame, and Bernie Leadon’s concern that the band was veering too far from its roots.

One thing I did love is that every single person in the book is an unreliable narrator. Because memory, well…memory doesn’t work. Read anything about human memory and you will learn very quickly that practically nothing that we think we remember is right. We only remember the last time we remember it, and over time, the sharp edges of the memory wear away. Was that shirt red? I thought so…but I guess it might have been yellow. So it’s hilarious to see people in the band remembering the exact same thing completely differently. It’s a small thing, but it adds the feeling that these are real people.

I do want to circle back to my original concern about the book being written as an oral history. Bob Lefsetz addressed my concerns better than I could have when he wrote:

I hate oral histories, but I love this book.

Because it’s fiction. In non-fiction it’s a device, often of laziness, just tell me the true story, don’t make me wade through the various opinions, oftentimes shading and not telling the truth.

But oral history is a genius move in telling the story of this fictional band.

Bob Lefsetz, “The Lefsetz Letter“

Before I actually started the book, I read a little bit about it on the Internet, and I was shocked to see how many people had asked the question “Were Daisy Jones and The Six a real band?” I mean, no. Of course not. How could they have been the biggest band in the world and we would have only just heard of them? I admit to a certain amount of judgement, perhaps even derision. What kind of morons are these people, may have been the refrain.

After I finished the book…I get it now. I totally get how people are asking, because it’s *impossible* that these characters don’t exist. It’s inconceivable that these are not real people. That they are not is kind of gutting.

Very close to perfect. Very close.
Language, drug use, sexual situations

6 thoughts on “Week Sixteen : Daisy Jones and The Six

  1. I’ve heard so many good things about this book. Also I’ve heard this compared to/ was perhaps inspired by the Fleetwood Mac drama of the 70’s era too and that made me want to read it even more. 🙂 I love their music from that time. And reading back through your review I see you address this. I missed that on my first skim through…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the things that I am SO excited about regarding the TV show is that TJR wrote the lyrics for the entire album that Daisy Jones and The Six released. She quoted from the album to good effect throughout the book…and now that they are actually making the TV series, they are writing the music and the songs will be performed…which has this fangirl squeeing like you would not believe.

    Like

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