“Daisy Jones & The Six”
“Rock on gold dust woman
Take your silver spoon
Dig your grave”
I hate oral histories, but I love this book.
Because it’s fiction. In non-fiction it’s a device, often of laziness, just tell me the true story, don’t make we wade through the various opinions, oftentimes shading and not telling the truth.
But oral history is a genius move in telling the story of this fictional band.
The reviews weren’t spectacular. But “Daisy Jones & The Six” became a best-seller. Proving once again, you’ve got to look at art through the eyes of the target audience. You don’t send a dyed-in-the-wool rocker to review BTS and you don’t let someone from the literati review a book that’s the best rock tome in eons, a landmark.
Sure, “Daisy Jones & The Six” is based on Fleetwood Mac, author Taylor Jenkins Reid reveals her devotion to Stevie Nicks in the acknowledgements at the end of the book, but really it’s the story of the seventies, when the boomers came of age, before the legitimization of greed by Reagan, when we were all still in it together, looking for personal fulfillment as opposed to riches, when music drove the culture and if you wanted to take the pulse of the nation you turned on the radio.
Now if this were still the twentieth century, prior to the social media explosion and the fragmentation of the music business, never mind society, “Daisy Jones & The Six” would be the talk of the town, certainly of Hollywood, of the whole industry, akin to “Hit Men,” because Taylor Jenkins Reid captures perfectly the ethos of yesteryear, takes us back to the garden when today music has lost its way and all the excitement is on the internet, when personal stories were the gossip we were interested, when there were not manufactured feuds played out in the tabloids, on the internet, to give their perpetrators traction.
We all formed bands. That’s what the Beatles inspired us to do.
And some stuck with it.
Life was hard. The girls were good, the dope soothed your soul, but you didn’t get rich. You started out at weddings and bar mitzvahs, school dances. Then you graduated to clubs, and from there you went on tour, locally, east coast, the south, the northwest, building an audience no one was aware of unless you lived there. Labels didn’t look at the numbers, they listened to the music.
And then if you had the balls, you moved to Los Angeles. Sure, there was a punk movement starting in the midseventies in New York, but L.A. was for the experienced, the skilled, the hungry, the beautiful, not the antiheroes.
And you lived in one house and scuffled, played gigs, made connections, and if you were lucky you got signed.
Meanwhile, there was a social infrastructure propping this all up. Sure, you’ve heard of the GTOs, Miss Pamela, but there were a lot of other groupies haunting the Strip who were unknown, and boys as well as girls, it was a vibrant scene that started in the sixties, with Pandora’s Box and “For What It’s Worth,” and the progenitors had impact, but in the seventies it was those influenced by the prior decade who made their mark.
Daisy Jones is a child of privilege, a free-rein kid back before parents were afraid to let their kids walk to school, never mind go downtown unsupervised. A whip-smart woman whose young beauty was so stunning it got her in, the Whisky and the Riot House, and taken advantage of by rockers who didn’t care she was underage.
That’s right, this book is accurate. Except for the hazy timing of “Tapestry,” Taylor Jenkins Reid got it right. Hell, she even spells “Whisky” correctly, without the “e.” If you lived through the era, you won’t be wincing, you’ll be nodding your head and lapping it up.
And the Dunne Brothers were from Pennsylvania, without a father, like the Allman Brothers, like so many other damaged musicians who’ve succeeded.
And the band was made up of personalities, not all in agreement, tension permeated.
And everybody worried about how to follow up their big hit.
And the producer and the label had input, but not the final say, and were oftentimes very convincing.
And if you didn’t have a college degree, it didn’t matter. You didn’t want your wedding in the “New York Times,” you were not building a resume, but a career, all based on your talent and your wits.
And the first LP didn’t have to be a smash.
You developed your act. If it was going in the right direction, it was all right.
This was the era wherein the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac sold in excess of ten million albums, when everybody knew not only the songs, but the names, when “Rolling Stone” ruled the roost and everywhere you went current music was on the stereo.
You start realizing this is the story of Fleetwood Mac when the Six record at Sound City, where Buckingham and Nicks famously met that band in crisis. But there’s enough different to keep you interested.
And Daisy Jones is uncontrollable.
But she guests on a single and then…
She becomes a member of the band. Sure, I’m giving something away, but hell, IT’S IN THE TITLE!
And Stevie Nicks doesn’t get enough credit. Our nation is ruled by identity politics, we keep hearing about the lack of women in music. But the thing about Stevie was she did not sacrifice her femininity to win, she stood up to the men, did the drugs, she eclipsed the rest of the singers in the band and illustrated in art you can triumph by just being yourself, if not in the corporation, there’s no glass ceiling in music.
Then again, maybe in country music.
But this was a different era. When radio was just looking for hit records, and they’d play anything if it resonated. We were all addicted to the sound. And yes, rock ruled, which it does not today. Hell, “Daisy Jones & The Six” is more rock and roll than any record released this year. Because it’s not self-conscious. It’s not so out there that no one can relate. It’s refining the ground we tread upon, not trying to reinvent a wheel that cannot be, after all, Clapton, Beck and Page, were influenced by Delta blues records from decades before.
Remember when you used to go to the record store and buy a highly anticipated LP, come home and break the shrinkwrap and drop the needle and digest it, listen to it by yourself, over and over until it penetrated your soul, that’s what reading “Daisy Jones & The Six” is like. You won’t be able to put it down, I finished it in less than twenty four hours.
If you lived through the era…it’s like discovering a time capsule that gets it exactly right, unlike those documentaries on CNN and those biopics.
We had extra time back then, we could get bored, there was not only no internet, but no HBO. So reading books was a regular thing. “Cat’s Cradle,” “The Bell Jar,” “Catch-22,” they were building blocks, they were rabbit holes you went down to not only inform you, but make you a citizen, part of the conversation, back when society was still coherent, and an album could be universal, and I don’t mean the label, hell, MCA was the worst in the business back then, there was Universal Pictures but no Universal Music and A&M and Island were still independent and Warner Brothers was artist friendly.
“Well did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
And is it over now, do you know how
Pick up the pieces and go home”
Sexual tension, unrequited love, these are the essence of life, not the money and the trophies. Your bank account won’t keep you warm at night, but another person will, and if you’ve got a crush you won’t be able to sleep, it’ll be the only thing you can think about.
“We love broken, beautiful people.”
That’s why they’re stars. We could stay off drugs, we could save money, but we could never become stars to begin with.
“I am not the muse. I am somebody. End of fucking story.”
Talk about female power.
“Men often think they deserve a sticker for treating women like people.”
Ain’t that the truth. Just because you’re not raping women that does not make you part of the solution.
“I think you have to have faith in people before they earn it. Otherwise it’s not faith, right?”
Today no one has faith, no one can see your potential, you’ve got to prove it yourself and then they skim the cream and take the lion’s share.
“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.
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. One plays arenas, the other plays clubs. Case closed.
“Daisy Jones & The Six”: amzn.to/2VfnHK9