Daisy Jones and the Six
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I didn’t think this book was going to work for me. I read the first 40 or so pages and just couldn’t get past the awkward formatting. Which made me incredibly sad, because music means the world to me and I was raised on classic rock. Before I wrote it off, I decided to give the audiobook a try. I’m so glad I did, because it’s now among my favorite audiobooks I’ve ever experienced. Because it definitely was an experience. It blows my mind that Daisy Jones isn’t a real icon of the Seventies, that The Six isn’t a real band whose back catalogue I can dig into now that I’ve gotten to know them. How Reid was able to create characters and a band dynamic that felt so real blows my mind. This is a book that was meant to be heard, with an amazingly talented and talented vocal cast.
“Art doesn’t owe anything to anyone.
Songs are about how it felt, not the facts. Self-expression is about what it feels to live, not whether you had the right to claim any emotion at any time.”
Daisy Jones is a beautiful girl who captivated those in the music industry long before she carved out a place for herself. Her big eyes and wild hair and slight frame made her a fashion icon of the Seventies without much if any intention on her part. Men saw her as a muse, a wild thing to capture and cage and wring new material from, but Daisy was bound and determined to be her own muse instead. She wrote, and she had some good stuff, but never as good as what she created with Billy Dunne, the frontman for an up-and-coming rock band called The Six.
“Passion is…it’s fire. And fire is great, man. But we’re made of water. Water is how we keep living. Water is what we need to survive.”
Billy was a great musician struggling to be a good man, and Daisy brought out both the best and worst in him. Together, they wrote an album that changed the music world. But Daisy was an addict, and Billy was in recovery, and that combination wasn’t good for anybody, including the rest of the band. Throughout the series of interviews that makes up this book, you can feel the tension building and building to a climactic finale that I’ll leave other readers to discover for themselves.
“I wish someone had told me that love isn’t torture. Because I thought love was this thing that was supposed to tear you in two and leave you heartbroken and make your heart race in the worst way. I thought love was bombs and tears and blood. I did not know that it was supposed to make you lighter, not heavier. I didn’t know it was supposed to take only the kind of work that makes you softer. I thought love was war. I didn’t know it was supposed to… I didn’t know it was supposed to be peace.”
I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but I have to applaud Reid for her characters. On paper, they fell a bit flat for me, but in audio they were deep and troubled and talented and insanely real. I loved learning about the dynamics between Daisy and the band, both in the studio and on the road. Reid also did a fantastic job depicting the music world as it was in the Seventies, down to the drugs and the groupies. Nothing really felt gratuitous based off of what I’ve learned about the rock scene in that era from other sources. I loved feeling like part of the music, and that’s what truly made this book so special for me. Prepare yourselves for a random tangent about my life. If you want to get back to the actual review of this book, skip over the next couple of paragraphs.
“It’s like some of us are chasing after our nightmares the way other people chase dreams.”
Music has always been a massive part of my life. My parents raised me on classic rock, and it’s still my weekend happy music. I’ve been singing wherever I can find a stage almost since I was able to speak. I taught myself how to play guitar at 13, and my brother learned to play drums at the same time, at only 9 years old. Not to sound conceited, but we were good, and we knew we were good. Our music was a huge part of how we defined ourselves, and why we’ve always been so close. I met my husband through music, and he became part of our band while we were still dating. With one of my cousins (who remains one of the most insanely talented musicians I’ve ever met) on lead guitar, we played gigs all over the state of Louisiana through our high school and college years. We spent every weekend practicing and writing songs and playing shows and recording with whatever money we earned preforming. We eventually landed a part in a tour lineup and were able to tour ten states over the course of a summer.
Music courses through my veins, and I don’t think I could survive without it.
“It is what I have always loved about music. Not the sounds or the crowds or the good times as much as the words — the emotions, the stories, the truth — that you can let flow right out of your mouth.
Music can dig, you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until you hit something.”
But even though music was a big part of us, we were raised in such a way that we knew how to keep ourselves away from the more dangerous elements of band life. We played Christian rock, so we weren’t as exposed to drugs and casual sex as secular bands. Even when we played in bars, we knew that we were representing our faith in a way, so we stayed away from alcohol. We were offered contracts that we turned down, knowing that even though we loved preforming and recording and crafting songs that shared our souls with the world, the lifestyle offered by those contracts would be super unhealthy for us. We could have made it, and possibly been pretty big. But we chose to put those dreams to the side for a while and live healthier, happier lives. Do we miss touring? Absolutely. My brother is a dad now, and my cousin works 60 hours a week and has two step kids. Our lives have changed, and we don’t have as much time for music anymore. We play on Sundays at church and jam when we can, but it will probably years down the road before we can even consider truly getting the band back together.
“Which is what we all want from art, isn’t it? When someone pins down something that feels like it lives inside us? Takes a piece of your heart out and shows it to you? It’s like they are introducing you to a part of yourself.”
What does any of that have to do with Daisy Jones? I could have been her. Without a family that loved me and supported my music, people who were always telling me how talented they thought I was and cheering me on from the front row, I would have chased after love and acceptance just as hard as Daisy did. If I wouldn’t have had the relationship with Jesus I did, where I felt it was so important to use my gifts for Him instead of singing in search of applause, I would have felt Daisy’s desperation to have her songs recognized. Without the combination of supportive family and a faith that defined me on an even deeper level than my music, I would have thrown everything I am into that search for stardom, a platform from which to share my songs. I might’ve fallen into the same traps of addiction and abusive relationships that she did, and I’m thankful everyday that my life didn’t turn out life hers.
“I used to think soul mates were two of the same. I used to think I was supposed to look for somebody that was like me. I don’t believe in soul mates anymore and I’m not looking for anything. But if I did believe in them, I’d believe your soul mate was somebody who had all the things you didn’t, that needed all the things you had. Not somebody who’s suffering from the same stuff you are.”
I don’t know if this is a story that other readers will connect to as strongly as I did, but I do think that the audiobook is compelling enough to entrance even the skeptical. If you’re a musician or a music lover, I beg you to give this a listen. Even if you’re not, if there’s any passion in your life you would throw yourself into for art’s sake, even at the possible cost of your health and happiness, you shouldn’t miss this book. It’s wild and crude and moving, and will have you humming songs that don’t actually exist. It’ll speak to your soul in the way that only music can.
You can purchase a physical copy of the book here, with free shipping worldwide!
You can purchase an audio edition of the book from the publisher’s website here, through any audiobook dealer of your choosing.
2 thoughts on “Daisy Jones and the Six”
Awesome review. I’ve been recommending this one left and right. Such a good book!
Thanks, Paul! I’m glad you loved it, too!