Saturday, March 9, 2019

Book Review: "Daisy Jones & The Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"I am not a muse. I am the somebody. End of fucking story."

I am a gigantic music fan. I was in a band in high school and college, and sing almost everywhere. As much as I love music and lyrics, I'm equally as fascinated by those who make the music and what inspires them to write the songs they do, not to mention the stories of connection and tension and dissension among band members."

This obsession was one of the myriad reasons I couldn't wait to get my hands on Taylor Jenkins Reid's newest book, Daisy Jones & The Six. Reid is the author of one of the best books I read last year, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and given the way she depicted the often-tumultuous personal life of a famed actress from Hollywood's heyday, I had a feeling she'd knock it out of the park with this look at the music business.

She knocked it way out of the park. This book, written as an oral history of the band, reads as if you were watching an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" crossed with the amazing movie Almost Famous.

Daisy Jones & The Six was one of the legendary bands of the 1970s, turning out hit after hit, filling stadiums and arenas across the country, and captivating the world with what appeared to be the electric relationship between singer/songwriters Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne, the musician who headed The Six. But what made the band end everything in the middle of their world tour, when they had everything in the palm of their hands?

Growing up in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, Daisy Jones was a free-spirited teenager who wanted to be a singer more than anything. Essentially left to raise herself, she spent her formative years in some of LA's most famous clubs and bars, sleeping with rock stars, and experimenting with every kind of drug. As she moves into her early 20s, her beauty opens doors but her voice gets her noticed. She's more than ready to be the next big thing.

Brothers Billy and Graham Dunne put together a band, hoping to make a living making music. But Billy's magnetic appeal and his talent as a singer and songwriter take the group to the next level, and The Six, as they come to be called, are on their way to becoming stars. But fame and the tantalizing distractions that materialize for rock musicians, particularly in the 70s, test Billy's mettle and put the band at risk, as well as Billy's marriage to his longtime girlfriend, Camila, and their young family. If Billy is going to succeed at both music and marriage, he must battle his demons.

Billy and Daisy cross paths when their mutual producer brings Daisy in to sing a duet for The Six's record. Their connection is immediate, powerful, and electrifying, and it will change everything for everyone. It is the stuff of legend.

"Some people will never stop being themselves. And you think it drives you crazy but it is the very thing you will think about when they are gone. When you don't have them in your life anymore."

The story of Daisy Jones & The Six may not be anything new if you're a fan of the stories behind famous bands, but Taylor Jenkins Reid succeeds in making this utterly compelling from the very first sentence, and she makes you wish these musicians actually existed, so you could hear their music and watch videos of their performances, to catch a piece of the fictional legend she has made you believe in.

Daisy Jones & The Six is powerful because it's a story about ambition, need, fear, longing, love, jealousy, connection, talent, and music. But at the same time, it's a story about how exhausting it is to fight your demons on a daily basis, and it is equally as exhausting to give in to your demons as well. There is raw emotion in this book, and it is so potent that at times I felt like I was right there in the middle of the stories everyone was telling.

Reid is one heck of a storyteller. I had been dying to read this since I finished Evelyn Hugo at the end of last year, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get access to an advance copy of this book. I worried that seeing so many people rave about this book would build it up too much for me. But I truly believe this is worthy of the hype it's getting. They're now making it into a television series for Amazon and I honestly cannot wait.

You need to read Taylor Jenkins Reid's books. If you're not a music fan, pick up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo first, and you'll see how masterfully she tells a story. But Daisy Jones & The Six is like a song you won't be able to get out of your head.

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