Our love for the ’70s, equal parts homage and satire, is inseparable from the bell-bottomed music scene of that decade. Taylor Jenkins Reid has written a stylish and propulsive if sometimes sentimental novel set against that backdrop, in the stadiums, studios and pool houses of late-1970s L.A. Though the back cover suggests that “everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six,” the book is the story of a fake band in a real world...“It is what I have always loved about music,” Daisy says. “Not the sounds or the crowds or the good times as much as the words — the emotions, and the stories, the truth — that you can let flow right out of your mouth. Music can dig, you know?”
Moments like these are a little cheesy, but maybe that’s the point? I felt the same way reading Daisy and Billy’s lyrics, which perfectly channel the cringey, soulful, not-quite-brilliant but damn-catchy lines of every pop song written in the 1970s. Reid is so good at them that she’s written a whole album of lyrics, which is included at the back of the book (“But maybe I should stake my claim / Maybe I should claim my stake / I’ve heard some hopes are worth the break”)
From the knowing tone of the 'biographer' to the lyrics of the band's best-selling album, this feels so real you're tempted to hit YouTube for live footage. It's as if a woman wrestled the narrative from Almost Famous, drenched it in sunshine, sex and tequila, then left it for us to read on a rainy Sunday.
Jenkins Reid has assembled it as an oral history, as if she is splicing together multiple interviews, and it adds up to a whole offstage soap opera. Only the thematic emphasis on feisty, female self-worth feels at all modern: the rest is a pitch-perfect exercise in sense of period and rock-bio plausibility.
The American author Taylor Jenkins Reid is the latest writer to enter the unforgiving mosh-pit that is pop fiction with her Flower-Power era novel Daisy Jones & The Six...The book is written as an oral history with each band member and associate (managers, partners, producers etc) giving their side of the story with recollections that often differ...It reads like you're watching one of those low-budget TV documentaries where a bunch of people of whom you've largely never heard, recollect a culturally important past event in which they were involved. It doesn't make for the best telly, and nor does it make irresistible reading… for the first 80 pages. Thereafter, as you are drawn further and further into the bell-bottomed, drug-addled, band-on-a-verge-of-a-breakthrough world of Daisy Jones & The Six, it's like their first album: a real grower. So much so, in fact, there will be occasions when you find yourself unconsciously reaching for a mobile device to hear one of the band's songs.
Taylor Jenkins Reid manages to steer clear of cliches, focusing instead on the heartache and anguished layers in between the stereotypes. Told through interviews, the real success of Daisy Jones is that (as with Reid's previous novels) it makes you feel as though you're at the centre of a never-before-heard truth... The heartache and misakes of these characters are all really relatable - and reminiscient of Siri Hustvedt's Memories Of The Future... [T]his is a book that, like its leading lady, demands to be seen and heard.
Written as an oral history, this is a tale of the beautiful and damned Daisy Jones and the dysfunctional doomed relationship she has with Billy Dunne when she joins his band, The Six. The masterpiece of a novel will fill your head with dreams of Fleetwood Mac, boho chich and that one song that will change your life.
We begin with an "Author's Note" - a clever late twist challenges what we think we know about said author - before plunging into this faux-oral history. Structured as a series of first-person accounts, it's reminiscent of Mark Yarm's classic grunge retrospective, Everybody Loves Our Town... It's a thoroughly enjoyable read, especially if you're into music and music books. Reid puts it together so deftly that, more than once, I forgot I was reading about made-up people and events. Daisy Jones & The Six feel so vividly real that part of my mind was trying to recall the chorus of such-and-such a song or the sound of Daisy's raggedly beautiful voice. She really immerses you in it, the crazy rollercoaster of life in a band. Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true: adulation, creative satisfaction and a fortune in the bank sound fantastic, but they tend to play havoc with your mind and soul.
Like a poignant song with lyrics that speak to your soul, "Daisy Jones & The Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid will transport you to another place and time.
Set in the drugs and rock 'n' roll culture of 1970s, the story begins with an LA "it girl" named Daisy Jones whose big blue eyes and copper hair get her into all the hot spots. She falls into music but with a gritty voice like Janis Joplin and a gift for songwriting, she actually belongs there... If you haven't read Taylor Jenkins Reid's other novels, each one is completely unique, but her recent works "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" and now "Daisy Jones & The Six" really cement her status as an author with a gift for storytelling who is worth following.
Novels about rock stars rarely work for a simple reason. You are reading a fantasy about a fantasy. Even as exalted a literary figure as Salman Rushdie came unstuck with his Bono-approved (never a good sign) novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet. Taylor Jenkins Reid, however, has succeeded in creating an utterly believable tale of a band. By the end of Daisy Jones & the Six you want to go and listen to all the mellow classics by the 1970s soft-rock band of the title, which is difficult because they don’t exist.