There’s something intoxicating about 1970s American rock’n’roll. I mean, I don’t even particularly like rock’n’roll, and even I feel it. What is that?
It’s a complete contradiction: a scene of addiction, sexism and abuse that somehow looms golden and innocent in the cultural consciousness. Why does the Western world have this collective nostalgia for this messed up world? Why is it so … comforting?
Daisy Jones & The Six is the novelistic equivalent of the 2000s film Almost Famous in its coverage of a rock band in 1970s California hitting the big time, hitting the road, and hitting the skids. It’s written like the transcript of a rock biopic that interviewed the eponymous (fictional) band and key people around them. Jenkins Reid rinses this format for all it’s worth, juxtaposing very different interpretations of the same situation to great comic and emotional effect – and also making the reader question perspective, memory and truth.
There are also occasional moments among the slightly hackneyed rock’n’roll frolics that hit you with their emotional truth, drawn from the characters being very honestly and fully known. The below passage stuck in my mind:
“Do you know what I decided a long time ago? I decided I don’t need perfect love and I don’t need a perfect husband and I don’t need perfect kids and a perfect life and all that. I want mine. I want my love, my husband, my kids, my life. I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect. I don’t expect anything to be perfect. But things don’t have to be perfect to be strong.”
Jenkin Reid’s real skill, though, is to capture the glamour of, and faith, in rock’n’roll of the specific time and place she portrays – when creating a sound and a perfect album is the most important thing in the world. She also crafts a compelling flawed heroine, dripping in magnetism. As a reader, you join Daisy Jones’s fleet of adoring fans hankering after her anecdotes and songs.
This is a great summer read, and a crowd-pleaser for anyone not too high minded. Enjoy!