After finishing Daisy Jones & The Six in less than a day, closing the book and saying a final farewell to these characters and stories, my immediate thought was to open up Spotify and search for Daisy Jones and the Six’s biggest hits so I could listen to them — that’s how tangible Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel felt.
Released on March 5th, exactly one year ago today, Daisy Jones & The Six tells the story of a rising singer and a band on their way to stardom during the late sixties/early seventies. After coming together to collaborate after a successful hit song, the band now with Daisy as one of the lead singers reaches peak fame and glory but mysteriously ends after the last concert of their sold out tour. Written in the format of an intimate interview with members of the band and the people behind the scenes of their success in the music industry, this structure never failed to keep me entertained. I would even go so far as to say that it made reading the novel a much more engrossing experience, almost as if I wasn’t reading a fictional piece of work, but a real inside look at one of the hottest rock ‘n’ roll bands from a bygone era.
Having already been acquainted with Jenkins Reid’s style of writing through her previous novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (a personal favorite of mine), if there’s anything to be said about my love for her writing it’s how flawlessly flawed her characters are. They feel human because their ratio of qualities equate to the ratio of their flaws. And many times these faults outweigh their rightness. Her stories are told through complex ‘in-the-middle’ gray characters that don’t feel like either the exaggerated good guy or evil villain. They have their wants and needs and are sometimes willing to step outside their morality to achieve it. Reading Daisy Jones & The Six makes you feel like you’re reliving life on the road, on the studio and on stage along with the band. At times, it is so intimate that it feels borderline invasive. At other times I would see myself reflected in the pages. As artists who deeply crave a wanting to put out their best work, I felt exposed, as these characters’ intentions began to resemble and resonate with my own intentions which are to write down their deepest, most moving parts of themselves and experiences and share it with the world.
An intriguing factor I noticed as I breezed through the novel was an underlying theme of instinct. As mentioned before, addiction plays a pivotal role in the story of these characters. This is to be expected since it’s a story about a rock band during the ’70s that mostly takes place in California. However what really captured me was the recurring mention of a particular character’s instincts. I have always perhaps ignorantly categorized addiction as a devastating disease. And while it is that, Jenkins Reid made me do a double take and link a certain character’s addictions with his instincts.
Throughout the story Billy mentions a few times his destructive instinct to always run towards chaos, instead of away from it. It’s his innate behavior to look at destruction and find the fun in it, not the consequences that may come after. Daisy is another character that has a similar experience with the major difference being that Billy goes into recovery early on in the story. This makes for a fascinating relationship between the two characters, as one has been to rehab and is dealing with the constant fear of relapse, and the other seems to be living under the constant influence of some type of substance. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of impending doom every time they interacted. It’s truly one of the most engaging and multilayered aspects of Daisy Jones & The Six. At many times it feels as if you’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop, which certainly kept me on the edge of my seat as I became more invested and almost protective of these characters’ lives. It made me angry to watch Daisy constantly put herself and a recovering addict in an environment filled with dangerous temptations. But the more openly these characters begin to describe their relationship with drugs and alcohol the easier it became to be more aware of how they were not only being enabled, but they were regularly surrounded by people that amplified those bad impulses.
Whether my own beliefs and personal connections I created with this fictional band could be something every other reader experiences (or not), I can’t say for sure. But to solely think that only artists or fans of music would be the main audience for this powerful novel would be doing it a great injustice. Daisy Jones & The Six is universal because it’s so much more than just the journey of a band finding success. Jenkins Reid is able to discuss addiction, the difficulty of familial love, the trials of love and loyalty, and the deep, dark sadness that stems from unfulfillment. I highly recommend reading this excellent and immersive novel, and I can’t wait to see Amazon Prime’s adaptation of this and to be able to see the process and hear the songs brought to life.