Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, is a 1970’s rock-and-roll print docudrama. It is written in interview format and follows the rise of rock band, The Six, and flower child, Daisy Jones. Predictably, there is an extensive supply of drugs, sex, and all manner of dysfunction to go along with what might have been great music had either Daisy Jones or The Six been real musicians. (More on that later.) Daisy grows up essentially unsupervised and spends all of her time and talent trying to carve out her place in the intoxicating, early-70’s rock scene of LA. Because she’s uninhibited, young, beautiful, and willing to sleep with her idols, it doesn’t take long for her to accomplish this goal, becoming a full-fledged drug addict in the process. Once a part of this inner circle, she begins writing her own music and trying to make it as a musician herself. She has a fair amount of natural songwriting talent, and, as it turns out, is a fair singer as well. She also has a good size chip on her shoulder and massive ego to go along with it. The fact that gender stereotypes and discrimination are alive and well in the rock music industry is also, to say the least, problematic. These elements are a destructive mix for Daisy, bleeding off onto all those with whom she comes into contact.
Meanwhile, The Six is working their own way up the rock-and-roll food chain and, along with the required rock-and-roll band member/manager drama, they eventually acquire a significant amount of attention. Although the entire band drinks incessantly and does their share of drugs, the lead singer/songwriter, Billy, becomes a full-fledged alcoholic/addict himself. However, when Billy somewhat unexpectedly becomes a father, he falls in love with his newborn baby girl and promises his wife he will stop drugging, drinking, and sleeping around, including while on tour. This experience provides the impetus necessary for him to write some kick *** music that catapults The Six to the brink of rock legend status. All they need is a little something more to take them over the edge and cement their place in rock history. Enter Daisy Jones and The Six. What follows is a predictable cocktail of partying, arguing, song-writing, fighting, touring, hotel-trashing, ego-navigating events that eventually build to what felt like, to me, a somewhat lame ending.
Long, super detailed songwriting sequences are interspersed throughout the novel. Unfortunately, although the lyrics are emotional and interesting, because there is no actual music to go with them, they’re one-dimensional. Eventually, I Googled the band, hoping to do some real listening, and found out they were fictional. To be fair, that’s not Jenkins Reid’s fault; it says “A Novel” right on the jacket. However, at that point, I was left with characters I didn’t care about, a somewhat tired story, and music I couldn’t hear. Some found the novel’s female characters strong and inspirational. I’m usually all in when it comes to this issue, however couldn’t come to the same conclusion. Addiction I can understand; betrayal I cannot. I also find it hard to believe, and not particularly inspiring, that two of the four main female characters, none of whom were naive or inexperienced, accidentally get pregnant. The only reason I finished this book at all is because I listened to the Audible version, brilliantly performed Jennifer Beals, Judy Greer, Benjamin Bratt, etc. That made it mostly worth the price of admission.
I confess, I’m a book hoarder. When I ‘read’ a book I love, even when I’ve actually listened to it first, I purchase the book to keep forever (or at least until some unlucky daughter or son ends up having to deal with the colossal collection after I’m gone). With so many real-life docudramas out there, not to mention recent dynamic films paying tribute to real rock legends such as Queen and Elton John; in this case, truth is definitely stranger – and more entertaining – than fiction. This is one book that won’t make my shelf.
But what do I know? Reese Witherspoon, who chose Daisy Jones and the Six for her March 2019 book club read, is now producing a thirteen-episode Amazon series based on the novel. At least now we’ll get to hear some music!