I love 60s and 70s rock n’ roll and have so since I was young. When I found out that the book Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was about a fictional rock band that thrived in the 70s, I had to read it. Now that I have read it, I can confidently say that this is a good book, but the audiobook is better.
Here’s the part where I would normally describe the plot in my own words, but it’s essentially an oral history of a fictional 70s rock band who, in more ways than one, resembles Fleetwood Mac. I mean Daisy Jones is essentially Stevie Nicks with the raspy voice and bohemian style. Billy Dunne is pretty much Lindsey Buckingham, in that their chemistry was undeniably like those Fleetwood Mac members I just mentioned. In addition, both bands began making blues rock and experienced lineups changes that factored into mainstream music and commercial success. Both bands also had only one number #1 hit (in an alternate universe, “Turn it Off” would become a Tik Tok sensation).
Having the novel as an oral history is a very unique idea, but I’m not sure if this format works well in a book. For one thing, authors strive for the “show, not tell” mentality. A lot of reviewers noted that it involves a lot of talking instead of showing how the characters feel. In other cases, I would agree with them, yet in this one, it’s like a VH1 Behind the Music special, where the talking is acceptable, so I didn’t mind it as much. It helps that it has a cinematic feel. However, what gets to me is that novel discusses the music and lyrics to the songs that the fictional band produces, especially on their album Aurora (their Rumours essentially). If one listens to the audiobook, they will listen to the music of one song, but it’s only an instrumental. One would also need to look up the actual lyrics to see what Daisy and Billy are talking about. In other words, the music and lyrics are never combined. Luckily, a TV adaption will air on Amazon, and apparently, it will feature original music. I hope the series will rectify the main flaw of the book.
I have watched a lot of documentaries on rock bands over the years (including one on the Beatles-parody band The Rutles), and I have to say that the story on Daisy Jones & The Six the band is fairly tame. When I say that, it’s not related to the sex and the drugs (there’s plenty of that), but rather the group as a whole. I felt that them splitting up and never getting back together was too neat and simple. Granted, there were real bands, whose tensions were so great that when they broke up, they never got back together like the Beatles or Creedence Clearwater Revival. With Daisy Jones & The Six, they ended on an almost amicable note, which kind of made me disappointed that they never got back together decades later.
If one is going to read it, the best way to do so is through the audiobook because the performances give more depth to the novel than the written word. There are 21 actors, yes you heard it right, 21 ACTORS narrating this book, and all of them are wonderful! All of them are distinct, and I’m not just saying that because they mention their names every time before they speak. They all deliver the right amount of emotions appropriate to their characters. For example, Jennifer Beals (yes, the lady from Flashdance) gives the title character a raspy voice who refuses to take crap from people. Some readers may find the character empowering, while others may find her entitled. For me, I was always looking forward to Daisy Jones speaking because I wanted to see how Beals tackled her obstacles. Another standout was Judy Greer, (the best friend in your favorite 21st century rom com) who tackles the role of Karen Karen – the keyboardist in The Six (think Christine McVie in Fleetwood Mac). Greer gives it her all as she embodies Karen’s need to be in control of her own life and career, especially when she experiences a pregnancy scare. In fact, all of the main female characters were empowering in one form or another, and the actresses embodied them well.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a unique book that people will talk about for a while. While its oral history format doesn’t quite work as a book, its strengths are shown more when listening to the audiobook. Each character is distinct and filled with their quirks and personal struggles. Along with the audiobook, I would recommend it to readers who love 60s and 70s rock music and female protagonists who are clearly in charge of their own destinies. For me, I can’t wait to view the series when it eventually premieres on Amazon, so everybody can see its assets on full display.
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