Bell-Bottoms and Break-Ups: Reid’s ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’


Graphic: Jordan Yankee

If you hear someone blasting the “Aurora” album from the second floor of Andrews Hall, it is most likely me. This summer I had the opportunity to dive into the worlds built by the wonderful Taylor Jenkins Reid, starting with her “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and ending with my current endeavor, “Malibu Rising.” However, one particular novel remains number one on my list of reads: “Daisy Jones & the Six.”

With a flavor of Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” (a semi-autobiographical film about the Rolling Stone writer’s coverage of bands like the Eagles and Led Zeppelin), “Daisy Jones & the Six” explores the rich – and quite unhinged – culture of music in the 1970s. I almost didn’t read the novel due to my lack of music industry knowledge, but as a disciple of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, I trusted her recommendation. Spoiler alert! She was right. I couldn’t put it down once I finished the first page. Reid makes the music-making process and industry dynamics understandable to even the most unfamiliar readers (my brother, a self-proclaimed guitar hero, would refer to me as such). Inspired by the renowned band Fleetwood Mac’s tumultuous history, Taylor Jenkins Reid recreates the world of ’70s rock ‘n’ roll so vividly that you feel like you’re there. Sometimes I would have to peel my eyes away and remind myself I was in Hamilton, New York. The novel features the point of view of several characters speaking in interviews for a fictional biography about the band “The Six,” later known as “Daisy Jones & The Six.” This multilayered narration provides different interpretations of the same plot events as the members reflect on their rags-to-riches story and the sudden break up of their band. This fictional oral history highlights just how complicated a seemingly simple situation can be; in other words, there are always multiple sides to every story. 

The child of wealthy but neglectful parents, Daisy Jones begins sneaking out at night to see rock bands on L.A.’s Sunset Strip when she is only 14 years old. It is here that she develops a passion for music and meets her lifelong best friend, disco singer Simone Jackson. Simone encourages Daisy to put her talent for singing and writing lyrics into action, and one thing after another Daisy is discovered by Runner Records’ Teddy Price. Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, brothers Billy and Graham Dunne are crafting their high-school garage band into “The Six.” After visiting Los Angeles and playing a club gig, they too are picked up by Runner Records. Soon after, Daisy Jones and The Six become a match made in musical heaven. Despite their initial reservations, the band members quickly recognize Daisy’s talent and begin to collaborate on music that propels them to stardom through their hit album “Aurora.” Along the way, the band faces the challenges of drugs, infidelity, and creative differences, leading to their eventual breakup. Through it all, Daisy and the other members of The Six are forced to confront their personal demons and come to terms with the cost of fame.

Daisy says at one point, “Music can dig, you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until you hit something.” That is exactly what this novel did, dug deep and found a resting place in my soul. This novel is truly a captivating exploration of the music industry and the human experience of striving for success. What I found most compelling about “Daisy Jones & The Six” though, is not the intimate bond that ends up forming between Daisy and Billy, but the issues of gender and power dynamics in the music industry that the novel touches on, highlighting the challenges female musicians face in a male-dominated field. The women – Daisy, the keyboardist Karen and even Billy’s wife Camilla – are portrayed as strong, independent and unapologetic in pursuing their dreams. Notably, Reid depicts Daisy Jones, the lead singer of the band, as a woman who is unafraid to speak her mind and stand up for herself. She is a talented musician who knows what she wants and is not willing to compromise her artistic vision for anyone. 

The highly anticipated TV adaptation has since found its way to Amazon Prime Video. The series is an excellent, must-watch complement to Reid’s novel. Plus, the show has gifted the world with a stunning, timeless album wrought by the drama of “Daisy Jones & The Six.”