While on vacation at Baha Mar in the Bahamas, my travel buddy was reading a book called Daisy Jones & The Six. After a particularly great chapter, she would turn to me and gush, "This book is just so good! I am trying to slow down so I don't finish it too quickly."
She was kind enough to lend me her copy for my trip to Miami, FL over Mother's Day weekend, and I finished it in three sittings.
For those who aren't familiar, the book is written by Taylor Jenkins Reid and was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick (the second most powerful book club, only behind Oprah Winfrey's). It's a work of fiction about a rock band in the 1970s, told as an oral history. It's basically like reading the best episode of VH1's Behind the Music that you could ever imagine.
It all begins with the Dunne brothers, Billy and Graham. Billy is the older brother, with a natural magnetism and sex appeal. Graham, the younger brother, is shy, but has a quiet strength.
They eventually add more members to their band - Warren (drummer), Eddie and Pete (guitar, also brothers), and Karen (keyboard). Together, they become The Six.
Of the supporting members of the band, Karen was my favorite. She was probably the most skilled musician in the entire group, and she refused to trade on her looks. Eddie was one of the most entertaining characters to read because he always had a chip on his shoulder. About pretty much everything.
Then, of course, there's Daisy. The ethereal, untrained singer who captivates everyone she meets. Daisy gets added to the band after she sings a powerful duet with Billy, and both parties realize they'll be more successful together than apart.
As their star rises, and they become one of the biggest bands in the world, the tension builds. You knew that was coming! There's fighting, bruised egos, secret romances, drunken nights that become mornings - all the wild behavior you'd expect from rock stars.
Amidst the chaos, Jenkins Reid writes beautifully about raw, human emotion. In a passage where Graham reflects about the best songs, she writes,"Back then I thought music was just about music. But music is never about music. If it was, we'd be writing songs about guitars. But we don't. We write songs about women. Women will crush you, you know? I suppose everybody hurts everybody, but women always seem to get back up, you ever notice that? Women are always still standing."
I also loved this introspection from the character Karen, about Billy's domination of the band. "It's so complicated. Was the album our best one because Billy was forced to let us in on the composing and arranging from the outset? I think so. Was it the best one because Billy ultimately took the reins back? Because Teddy knew when to make Billy listen to other ideas and when to let him run the show? Was it only the best because of Daisy? I have no idea. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and I have no idea. But when you're a part of something as big as that album ended up being . . . you want to know if you were an integral part. You want to believe they couldn't have done it without you. Billy never did put much effort into making everyone feel integral."
I was moved by this description of Billy meeting his new baby girl for the first time (after coming out of rehab). "Standing there at that picnic table with them, it was like someone just took an ax to me, just shattered all the crust. I felt raw. In the way where you can feel everything, feel it deep down into your nerves. I had . . . I'd built a family. By accident and without thinking and without so many of the qualities that you should have to deserve a family, I think, but I had built one. And here was this tiny, new person - who had my eyes, who didn't know who I used to be, who only cared who I was now."
*MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! Do not read on if you don't want to know about the ending of the book.
Seriously. Stop now!*
On page 315 (out of 349) you learn who is recording this oral history, and it's Billy's daughter, Julia. I found that absolutely preposterous. I felt like there was no way the band members, especially her dad, would have been as brutally honest as they were, with someone they witnessed being born and watched grow up on their tour buses.
Jenkins Reid tries to address that with the final remarks from Billy, "But I will say I am thankful to you for asking these questions and giving me something to do. I hope this sheds some light on all of it for you, sweetheart. I really do. About your mom and me and the band. Sometimes I'm surprised people still care. I'm surprised they still play us on the radio. Sometimes I listen. The other day, they were playing 'Turn It Off' on the classic rock station. I sat in the car in the driveway and listened. [Laughs] We were pretty good."
After the oral history has ended, the following pages are the song lyrics to all of the band's big hits, which Jenkins Reid also wrote. It would be one thing to write an amazing story about a famous band, but to also write their fictional songs? Unreal.
After finishing the book, I fell down a major rabbit hole, trying to learn as much about the author as I could. If you are craving more intel too, check out these three podcast episodes:
- The Literary Life, Taylor Jenkins Reid, on her new rock ’n’ roll novel, *Daisy Jones and the Six*
- Show Your Work, SYW Master Class: Author Taylor Jenkins Reid Isn't Sorry she's 'Selfish'
- Show Your Work, Daisy Jones *Should* Drive You Nuts
In the second Show Your Work episode, you learn that Reese Witherspoon and her production company bought the rights to the book, and they are producing it as a 13 episode series for Amazon Prime. They've already written the pilot script, and the next step is casting.
I thought it would be fun to share who my ideal actors are for the lead roles in the on-screen adaptation. Here it goes!
- Billy - I'd love to see Billy Crudup in this part. He has that same smoldering look without even trying.
- Graham - At first I was thinking Jake Gyllenhaal, but now I'm leaning towards Milo Ventimiglia.
- Karen - Don't you think Jennifer Lawrence would be amazing as Karen?
- Eddie - I spent a lot of time thinking about who should be the band's biggest whiner and I landed on Jeremy Renner or Chris Messina (who played Danny Castellano on The Mindy Project).
- Daisy - The entire time I was reading this, I was picturing Lindsay Lohan in her prime. If only we could go back to her pre-drug days!
- Camila - Whoever plays Billy's wife has to be both strong and arrestingly beautiful. My vote is for Gina Rodriguez.
I want to fast forward to the series to being cast, filmed, edited, and released! The wait is already killing me. I also hope they record all the songs from the book and release a real album.
If you read the book, please share all your thoughts. I am dying to discuss!
*Image courtesy of Marie Claire.