Thursday, March 7, 2019

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid

This will come to no surprise to my friends, family, and followers, but I love old rock and roll and newer folk rock. I could listen to Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Raffoul, First Aid Kit, etc. all day long. In fact, that's usually what I'm listening to while I read. I think it's both perfect background music and perfect in your feels music. The lyrics are honest, they're often raw, and the voices of those bands can cut you deep. When I heard about Daisy Jones & The Six, written by none other than Taylor Jenkins Reid (The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo), I jumped at the opportunity to receive an Advanced Review Copy. All I had was a cover, a short blurb, and a playlist sent out by Taylor Jenkins Reid that featured some of my all time favorite bands. I may not have been alive in the sixties and seventies, at the height of poppy rock n' roll, but this book took me there and it won't be a journey I'll forget anytime soon. Lucky for me and other fans, Reese Witherspoon picked Daisy Jones & The Six for her Hello Sunshine book club and is now producing the novel with Amazon as a series. Check out the blurb and my review for this oral history of a fictional, but very realistic rock band below.

Daisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: March 5, 2019 by Ballantine Books

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Ballantine Books
5 Stars
Sex, drugs, rock 'n' Roll. Taylor Jenkins Reid takes us inside the minds of famous, fictional rock and roll members of the band Daisy Jones & The Six. Kicking off with an author's note written by the author of the rockstar biography, that wasn't confusing to explain at all, we're made aware right away that this isn't your typical story. You see, Daisy Jones & The Six rose to fame at a rapid pace, but their demise was just as quick, if not faster. Like all massively famous bands in the 60's and 70's, much of their life was on display for the fans, but the truth is all but unknown. The members remember the events differently and this is the first time that fans and readers will get the true inside scoop.

"The truth often lies, unclaimed, in the middle."

If I had to use just one word to describe Daisy Jones & The Six, I would pick authentic. We follow the characters as they revisit the beginning, revealing the entry of piano goddess Karen Karen and the conflicts brought on by Billy Dunne's obsessive control. We see their initial climb, the hard work put into new albums, the touring, the good and bad memories, the drugs, the alcohol, the girls and the boys, and finally the grand fall that stopped time. I forgot, several times, that Daisy Jones & The Six wasn't real, my mind easily filling in the blanks with stories told by true rock n roll stars, Fleetwood Mac. Frontman heartthrob, Billy Dunne, takes off the veil that had previously shrouded his time with the band and sexually free Daisy reveals her, at the time, mercurial personality. We're given a front row seat to addiction, taking readers back to a time when drugs were easy to get and much more acceptable. We also get a glimpse into the artistic side of the band, the selection of guitar rifts and the hours spend on connecting lyrics together. I loved Billy and Daisy, I could picture their jaded, youthful selves and I could picture them graying and older, reflecting on a time best left in the past.

"The smell of any of it. It takes me right back. To those moments when the night is just starting, when you know you're about to get into trouble. It feels so good, the beginning."

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the format of Daisy Jones & The Six. While many might call this an interview style, I don't necessarily think it fits that mold completely. There's no questions posed by the author, rather they allow the members of the band to share the stories at will. In fact, the individual's sharing of events blend together, it almost seemed like they were sitting in a single room sharing the events. I loved their unique perspectives, how one thought they'd brought their car and another thought they'd brought theirs instead. Their voices were easy to differentiate, how Daisy talked was miles different than Billy's voice. The format allowed the story to come to life and feel more realistic, like these were truly old rock stars sitting in front of a mic or camera revisiting the past. I loved the complicated relationships, the character flaws that stand out now for the characters as they look back, and the wistful quality of the storytelling.

"In that moment, I thought, she's going to be the girl bleeding in a beautiful dress until it kills her."

Daisy Jones & The Six is an intelligent, compelling novel that will take readers back in time to the glory days of music. With an atmospheric quality, Taylor Jenkins Reid brings to life a band whose problems were just too big to overcome. The fame, the popularity, the money, it all didn't mean anything as the members fought to be heard, as the drugs use turned sinister, and as emotions lost control. Music fans will love this historical novel that reveals the vulnerable side of a band that could've stayed on top, but instead disappeared with a crash.

"But The Six was never what you expect."
Ballantine Books

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