Daisy Jones and the Six is a fictional 1970s Fleetwood Mac style-ensemble fronted by a bewitching, raspy voiced woman (the eponymous Daisy) and a handsome, brooding guitarist-singer. The number is made up by a less ravishing woman on keyboards and a couple of other people not worth bothering about. Don’t bother reading Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel either, just wait a while and you can watch it. The front cover declares deliriously that Renaissance Woman Reese Witherspoon “devoured” this book in a day, and you can bet that she’s put it on her shelf marked Miniseries? Netflix? Role for Ava? We suggest that Ms Witherspoon should eat food, rather than paper, and learn to read more discerningly. For her assistance though, here are our casting suggestions (we’ll assume that this is a magic world and all of these actors are still alive, the right age and can at least hold a guitar or mime along. This is soft rock n roll, after all.)
DAISY JONES (Vocals, Tambourine and Stomping) – Amy Adams.
Daisy is rich, tall, thin, has wavy red hair, defined cheekbones and REALLY blue eyes. “Stunning big blue eyes – dark, cobalt blue.” “They looked like the middle of the ocean. Not the shoreline, not that light blue. They looked like the dark blue of the middle of the ocean. Like deep water.” We are constantly told (often by Daisy) that she is gorgeous and naturally talented. She’s impulsive and her own woman too! “I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse. I am not a muse. I am the somebody. End of fucking story”. As Daisy always said, “The Italians know hair”.
BIILLY DUNNE (Vocals) – Rufus Sewell
Billy is dark, handsome, smouldering, brooding, obsessive, dictatorial and charismatic. He’s slim, muscular, confident and has lovely eyelashes!
GRAHAM DUNNE – (Lead Guitar) – Jeff Bridges
Billy’s younger brother Graham is sexy and handsome in a broad-shouldered, rough-around-the-edges kind of way. Looks a little dangerous, but is actually very gentle.
KAREN KAREN – (Keyboards) Ali MacGraw
Graham: “Karen Karen was a great addition to the band. Made everything better. And she was beautiful too. I mean, in addition to being talented. I always thought she looked a little like Ali MacGraw…Karen was so fucking sexy in those turtlenecks”.
PETER LOVING (Bass), EDDIE LOVING (Rhythm Guitar) and WARREN RHODES (Drums) – Anyone Really
The other three. Resentful Eddie, quiet Pete and cynical drummer Warren.
SIMONE JACKSON (Disco Star)
Daisy’s concerned friend. Never described.
CAMILA MARTINEZ DUNNE (Billy Dunne’s Girlfriend, then Wife). Holly Marie Combs
Camila has long brown hair and brown eyes, is wifely and maternal, earthy-smelling. She is endlessly patient and persuasive, if not pushy. Knows how to get her way…Camila “I think you have to have faith in people before they earn it. Otherwise it’s not faith, right?”
TEDDY PRICE (CEO, Runner Records) – Richard Griffiths.
Tall, fat, ugly, British. We can be sure that he will either (a) cheat the band, or (b) die tragically.
Despite Ms Witherspoon’s confusing pies and prose, this is pulp at its most “devourable”. It takes little effort to digest. The chronologically sequential parts, from 1965 to 2012, take us through Daisy Jones’ rise from wild child bumming cigarettes on the Sunset Strip, to Lori Mattix type groupie, to Stevie Nicks style rock goddess and beyond. Daisy meets The Six, clashes with Billy Dunne, has a hit song with him and then joins the band (although her top billing seems unlikely). The band reaches juggernaut status and then implodes.
The novel is devised as a series of grabs from interviews with the band members and their associates (similar to the style of Funnymen by Ted Heller, although Funnymen is a much better novel). This construction is, of course, annoying and artificial; the interviewees would have to have been present at the same time, commenting on each other’s remarks. But if this gimmick is overlooked, the various commentators’ contradictions, lack of insight, misunderstandings, resentments and false memories work quite well. The dialogue is not without wit, including gems like – “[she had a] smile like a virus”, “showing up on time is something she does by accident” and “men often think they deserve a sticker for treating woman like people”. The time is evoked well. Venue names include The Cow Palace, the Inn of the Beginning and Exit/In. Bands are called Midnight Dawn, and the Breeze. Tours, albums and songs by Daisy Jones and The Six include Seven Eight Nine, Aurora, Chasing the Night, Turn it Off and Impossible Woman.
There should have been less exposition about the writing of nonexistent songs which cannot be heard (full lyrics are given at the back – Ms Witherspoon take note) and more about the actual intricacies of this kind of multi-player endeavour. As anyone who has read a decent rock bio knows, the day to day, week to week, month to month lives of the members of major bands are complicated and multilayered. This book is not.
Much of the book consists of Billy twaddling on about his born-again sobriety; his shame and remorse for the past; his struggles with temptation and his love for his wife and children. Camila goes on a lot about trust within a marriage and the redemptive love of a good woman and daughters. Daisy witters on about how wonderful it is to get high, until it isn’t. We at TVC have not read Reid’s other books, but suspect that this preachy tone may be typical.
There is a silly minor ‘reveal’ at the end of this novel and a nod toward a romantic sequel. While waiting for the miniseries, do read this or this or this or this rock bio instead of Daisy Jones etc (but give this one a miss).