Perhaps U2 frontman and activist Bono was right when he observed, “Music can change the world, because it can change people.” There are life-altering lessons to be taken from the songs we love, not only about ourselves, but about the world around us.
Through the melodies and lyrics of great hits, we gain a fast-tracked education on love, heartbreak, betrayal and self destruction. We reflect on the past, a single note bringing back sharp memories of days gone by, or project ourselves into a hopeful future. Music is powerful. But what can we learn from the artists who create it?
“We can all romanticize the messy inner workings of Fleetwood Mac, or the breakup of the Beatles — even the complexities between Beyoncé and Jay-Z,” author Taylor Jenkins Reid told The New York Times in 2019, when her novel Daisy Jones & The Six hit the shelves and became an instant success. “But what does it feel like to be these people? How do you stand on stage every night and sing a harsh song someone wrote about you? Doesn’t that hurt? What does it cost you? To go out there every night and put on a great show knowing that you’re hanging on by a thread?”
That’s the million dollar question at the heart of Daisy Jones & The Six. The book – now a Prime Video Series – chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of a legendary fictitious rock band in the 1970s.
But beneath the surface of sold out tours, hookups and booze-and-drug-fueled debauchery lies a deeper story that unpacks an imagined reality of the world’s biggest stars. It explores the emotional toll between band members, the struggles of self control, the strain of obsession-level fans, an inescapable love-triangle, and the undeniable strength of women in the music industry.
Relationships are a key theme in Daisy Jones & The Six, especially the refreshing support seen between its female leads. On vocals, there’s Daisy Jones – a free-spirited, fiery singer-songwriter who is determined to not be someone’s muse. She’s backed throughout the story by friend Simone, who encourages Daisy to start songwriting while simultaneously chasing her own music dreams. Along the way, Daisy plays in The Six with lead keyboardist, Karen. She also meets Camila, who remains one of the more fascinating characters as an artistic photographer and wife of The Six frontman, Billy. In the original novel, the women confide in each other in different ways, overcome complicated relationships, and Camila ultimately plays a surprising role in the band’s eventual fate.
Although there are moments where the women in this story could be pitted against each other, or succumb to a clichéd tale of envy and resentment, they rise above it all. It’s a powerful lesson in solidarity and a love letter to female artists making their way in a man’s world, like modern icons Alicia Keys, Lizzo and Taylor Swift, among others, who not only stand for female empowerment, but who have publicly shared the stage and amplified the success of female peers, even when the industry doesn’t. When female artists are able to share honestly and vulnerably, they have the power to inspire change for the masses.
In both the book and the series, there’s some overlap in relationships that leads to complexity. The will-they-or-won’t-they tension between main characters, Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne, serves as creative inspiration for a lot of the music and drama in the series. “We were two halves. We were the same,” says Billy in the original novel.
It’s a spark so intense it couldn’t feel more real, and is an all-too-familiar scenario. Is it possible to mix love and work without someone getting hurt? Of course, some real-world band members and fans seem to think so. There’s the fresh-off-the-press relationship between Paramore members Hayley Williams and Taylor York, the infamous love affairs within Fleetwood Mac – or even the fictitious, fan-created rumours about Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson that still run rampant 10 years later. There’s no doubt, we all love a story of passion.
So, is it risky to cross that line? Maybe. Toxic? Sometimes. A source of inspiration for writing soul-crushing music? Absolutely. Either way, whether you love or hate the connection between Daisy and Billy, it’s impossible to ignore the integrity of his wife, Camila, who serves an important lesson on patience, strength and self assuredness: “I think you have to have faith in people before they earn it. Otherwise it’s not faith, right?” After all, if a family bond is strong enough, even a few wrong decisions can’t break it.
Art imitates life again and again as the characters in this story struggle with making the right decisions. Sometimes, they fall into the trap of envy, temptation, and addiction. But, the way each learns from their mistakes and grows over the course of years and decades, is something we can all take notes on. It’s something Prime Video is hoping to capture for the sea of built-in fans when Daisy Jones & the Six starts streaming on March 3. Get ready to settle in, this is one wild ride.
Watch the trailer for Daisy Jones & The Six here.