It’s almost impossible to imagine a world where music and conflict do not go hand in hand. Music moves us. Sometimes that movement is towards hope, love and pure pleasure. But sometimes, it takes us to darker places – or it’s born from a lightning strike of tension between musicians. That’s when it gets most interesting.
Why is tension a common denominator of great music? Because it allows for the exploration of different ideas, sounds, and genres. When the process of creating hits becomes a routine and a formula as dry as unbuttered toast, listeners can hear the lack of soul seeping through the speakers. Music needs friction. It needs a bit of madness. Because perfection doesn’t change audiences – musicians’ energy, emotion and vulnerability, do.
It comes in many forms. Conflict between band members, pressure to meet expectations, the push and pull of romance, or the struggle to incorporate new sounds and ideas into existing music. For Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne – the fictional duo fronting 70s band Daisy Jones & The Six – it’s all of the above.
Based on the best-selling novel, Daisy Jones & The Six follows the story of a band’s meteoric rise and fall from fame in the 1970s. Particularly, the drama between the two feuding yet infatuating lead singers. Now coming to life on screen in a major Prime Video series, it’s obvious the tension in relationships was the catalyst for the characters’ creativity, success and failure.
These relationships, while initially adding to the band’s chemistry and creative energy, eventually cracked under pressure and built up to a breaking point that left them no other option than to break up the band completely. “When you think of me, I hope it ruins rock and roll,” is the iconic line that sums up their complicated feud. In the book, there’s also an exploration of power dynamics within the group, and the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on the band’s relationships and music.
Sure, Daisy Jones isn’t real. But the themes ring just as true throughout music history. While conflict can lead to some of the world’s most memorable and emotionally resonant music, it can just as equally lead to burnout, exhaustion, and ultimately impact the creation of new music. Fleetwood Mac is a perfect example. They faced conflicts during the making of ‘Rumours’, which caused an escape into drugs and alcohol, further deteriorating the already tense situation.
The Beatles’ iconic album, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, was created under intense pressure to deliver a groundbreaking album. Luckily for the world, this tension led to the band’s experimentation with new sounds and styles that became huge hits. But after years of intense collaboration, the pressure caused cracks. Perhaps their separation, when it eventually happened, could be attributed to the impossibility of confining so much individual talent within a group.
Sometimes the conflict is so fueled with rage it can span decades. Simon & Garfunkel were known for their massive music success, but it came with a turbulent relationship, differing artistic visions and public feuding. Paul Simon was the introspective songwriter, while Art Garfunkel was the emotional singer. The balance worked, for a while – the different perspectives of these two artists was what made them so good. But it, too, became too much to bear and led to their eventual, dramatic end.
Perhaps what all these bands prove – including Daisy Jones & The Six – is this: tension is a necessary part of creating era-defining music. But when it comes to longevity, creative conflict is the mark of an inevitable ending.
Watch Daisy Jones & The Six March 3, only on Prime Video. See the trailer here.