- Amazon Prime Video’s “Daisy Jones & the Six” is an imaginary biopic about a made-up band that draws inspiration from real bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, CCR and Neil Young.
- The TV show’s original songs were written and produced by Blake Mills, who worked with musicians such as Phoebe Bridgers, Jackson Browne and Marcus Mumford.
- The show’s COVID-related delays proved to be a boon as the actors were enrolled in Band Camp during the pandemic and learned how to be a musically tight unit.
When actress Riley Keough, who plays Daisy Jones, finds that Tennessee cry in her voice while she sings “Let Me Down Easy,” you know Amazon Prime Video’s Daisy Jones & the Six is a cut above the normal rock star biopic. The slight confusion is that it’s a fake biopic about a made-up band (with a mockumentary thrown in), but even if you’re only slightly into Dad rock you’ll recognize the real Fleetwood Mac in every musical phrase.
As much as Oasis feasted on The Beatles for their inspiration, you can bet that the soundtrack’s co-producer Tony Berg, music supervisor Frankie Pine and Berg’s longtime musical partner Blake Mills, who wrote and produced all of the original songs (with help from Phoebe Bridgers, Jackson Browne and Marcus Mumford), had the Fleetwood Mac discography on a constant Spotify loop.
Series co-creator Scott Neustadter admits to Fleetwood Mac becoming their main muse, but is quick to widen the influences out. “So yes, there are definite Fleetwood Mac vibes all over the place. But we had plenty of Joni Mitchell elements, Bruce Springsteen elements. CCR [Creedence Clearwater Revival] was part of that, and Neil Young was a big one. You can’t ever say ‘Oh, that sounds exactly like this.’ It just sounds like a song that would have existed at that time.”
Madeline Roth, entertainment editor at The Daily Beast, was also relieved when she listened to the album that came out to support the TV series. “Hitting play on Aurora, you get the overwhelming sensation that, damn, this really does sound like a real band and not just a gaggle of hot young Hollywood actors. They sound legit. They sound cool. Look At Us Now (Honeycomb), the fictional band’s breakthrough hit, is so good you believe that it could’ve topped the charts once upon a time.”
READ MORE: Making the Band: How Daisy Jones & the Six Came to Life (The Daily Beast)
But the production story of Daisy Jones & The Six has its own story arc with its search for the right cast to bring the original novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid to life. There were a litany of delays and false starts including the big one that affected everybody, as Katherine Rosman explains in The New York Times:
“Production on Daisy Jones & the Six was initially scheduled to begin in April 2020, and even after it was postponed because of COVID for about 18 months, it had to be suspended a few more times. Despite daily testing protocols and mask mandates, the reality of filming concerts with hundreds of extras, hookup scenes and booze-and-Quaalude-fueled bacchanals had taken a toll.”
“Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is hard to do in a pandemic,” said Lauren Neustadter, who along with Reese Witherspoon executive produced the series.
The virus played havoc with some complicated builds. Mikey O’Connell at The Hollywood Reporter also talked to Scott Neustadter. “When we were in New Orleans, we took over Tad Gormley Stadium and transformed it into Soldier Field. But there was no stage or anything to hold a concert. So, the production designer and her team built a massive stadium concert stage. The stagecraft of it was so impressive. It was as if we were putting on a huge concert. Then, the day that they built it, Sam Claflin came down with COVID and we couldn’t use it. I think they had to break it down and rebuild it a week later.”
READ MORE: ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ Showrunner on Song Switches, Fake/Real Concerts and Shutting Down the Sunset Strip (The Hollywood Reporter)
But as other productions had found, the pandemic pause did have a beneficial effect, akin to a creative break. All the band members had been enrolled in Band Camp and when lockdown was called they all retreated back home but carried on learning how to be a band online. Come the end of the second round of Band Camp 18 months later, you had the makings of a musically tight unit and it showed.
But back to the scripted drama with a preamble, again from The New York Times. “Daisy Jones & the Six tells the story of a band’s rise to sold-out-stadium-level fame thanks to a hit album, Aurora. The musicians make and promote Aurora as Daisy, Billy and his wife, Camila Dunne (Camila Morrone), try to navigate the sharp edges of a love triangle,” Rosman writes.
“It’s based on a 2019 novel of the same name by Taylor Jenkins Reid that has sold more than 1 million e-book and print copies, according to NPD BookScan, and has been translated into more than 30 languages. Part of its appeal is the storytelling approach: Reid creates an oral history that reads like nonfiction, populating it with musicians and record producers who reminisce against the backdrop of beater vans, tour buses and Sunset Strip stages.”
READ MORE: ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ and the Ballad of Making Rock ’n’ Roll TV (The New York Times)
Adapting this style in to a screenplay was a major undertaking as The Spool’s Shannon Campe alludes to. “Taylor Jenkins Reid writes in a realistic faux-oral history style. Its prose is entirely composed of pretend interviews with the band’s members and the various industry types in their orbit as the story slowly focuses on the turbulent and complicated romance between the Six’s frontman, Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), and charismatic rising star Daisy Jones (Riley Keough).
“The Amazon version of Daisy Jones & The Six more or less ditches the smash hit novel’s signature oral history format. Only brief talking head interviews peppered throughout, and a small smattering of fake archival footage recalls that approach. The choice proves a mixed bag that may leave some devoted Six-heads — including myself — feeling cold. “
READ MORE: A study of adaptation: Daisy Jones & The Six (The Spool)
However, it’s Mary Kate Carr at the AV Club who encourages you to just sit back and enjoy the story and all the many plus points.
“None of these minor flaws detract from the show’s considerable charms, however. What you see is what you get with this miniseries, and what you get is a straightforwardly good time. The ensemble clearly had lots of fun together, which translates to a delightful viewing experience. And the ‘70s-era costumes and set design draw the audience into its world of sex, drugs, and, yes, rock ‘n’ roll. Most especially, the love story at the center is compelling enough that viewers won’t want to miss a moment of its highs and lows. Much like its titular fictional band, Daisy Jones & The Six is destined to be a crowd-pleaser.”