On May 23, 1997, Fleetwood Mac performed a concert for MTV entitled “The Dance.” During the entertaining concert, the band performed their little-known song, “Silver Springs,” which had been written by Stevie Nicks about her break-up from lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. Several times during the song (which became a hit later that year), Nicks belted out the lyrics directly to her ex-lover Buckingham, singing “You’ll never get away from the sound, Of the woman that loved you.”
The performance was raw and passionate, demonstrating that, even decades later, the two artists had deep feelings for each other, feelings that powered Fleetwood Mac’s music and made them one of the most popular bands of the 1970’s.
This type of dynamic is at the heart of the engaging book “Daisy Jones & The Six” written by Taylor Jenkins Reid and published by Ballantine Books in March 2019. The novel, told in the form of interviews, primarily tells the story of Billy Dunne, lead singer of The Six, a fictional 1970’s rock band, and Daisy Jones, a young, beautiful and spoiled woman, who later joins the band as it became internationally famous.
Both are incredibly talented songwriters. Both are also addicts/alcoholics, although Billy is in recovery while Daisy is in denial. Billy’s recovery is fueled by two things: 1) his love for his family (his patient and his understanding wife, Camila, and his daughter Julia) and 2) the fear of being his alcoholic father. Daisy is just trying to feel good after years of neglect from her parents.
The book first introduces us to Daisy as a teenager who, ignored by her parents at home, immerses herself into the L.A. rock scene, drugs, sex and all. Through beauty, talent and attitude, Daisy soon becomes the “It Girl” in the scene. Soon after, she receives an album deal which unfortunately forces her to sing other people’s songs instead of her own.
We also meet “The Six,” made up of Billy (lead singer), his brother Graham (lead guitar), Karen Karen, (keyboardist), Warren Rhodes (drummer), Eddie Loving (rhythm guitar) and Peter Loving (bassist). The book follows the group from its inception to early success on its first tour where Billy’s drinking and partying lead him into rehab and missing Julia’s birth.
Eventually, the Six and Daisy are paired up on a song called “Honeycomb” (written by Billy about Camila) where Billy and Daisy perform a duet. The song becomes a hit and people want more of Billy and Daisy together. The only problem is that the two cannot stand each other. In Daisy, Billy sees the dark side that he is trying to give up for his family. In Billy, Daisy sees disapproval for her lifestyle and a commitment to his family, something Daisy doesn’t recognize.
Yet, when the two perform together, magic is made and the crowds go wild. When Daisy joins the band, she and Billy write songs for a new album. Billy’s songs are about his devotion to Camila, yet, to Billy’s initial dismay (and later wonder), Daisy adds small changes to the songs that make them more complex pieces about love lost and love never realized. The combination of Billy and Daisy lead to an incredible album, “Aurora,” and a tour during which previously hidden cracks are revealed.
Reid does a great job, using the oral history format to make the characters real and to build the tension between them. There’s one major subplot featuring a romance between Graham Dunne and Karen that is somewhat reminiscent of the romance between Fleetwood Mac’s John and Christine McVie (although there was a little Daisy Jones in McVie who wrote many of Fleetwood Mac’s hits).
As the “Aurora” tours goes on and the tensions ratchet up, the emotions between the characters bubble to the surface leading to the question of how Billy and Daisy deal with their feelings for each other as well as their demons and their lives.
“Daisy Jones & the Six” provides a satisfying answer to that question that acknowledges those feelings and the better sides of the characters’ natures. It also makes one wish that they could witness Daisy and Billy perform their songs, which is definitely the mark of a well-written book.
- Soon, we will be able to see such performances. Amazon is making a thirteen episode series of “Daisy Jones & the Six.” The series is executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and no air date has yet been set.
- Ever since I saw Fleetwood Mac’s “The Dance,” I was struck by the performance of “Silver Springs” and the images from the performance played in my mind over and over as I read the book. I was pleasantly surprised that Ms. Reid had also been influenced by the performance, although she had been struck more by the performance of “Landslide,” as detailed in this article.