In August 1977, the seven members of the band entered Wally Heider’s Studio 3 to begin the process of recording their third album.
Daisy: When we all met up at the studio that first day, I brought this basket of cakes that someone had sent over to my place at the Marmont and my notebook full of songs. I was ready.
Eddie: Daisy showed up in a thin tank top and these tiny cutoff shorts. Barely covered anything.
Daisy: I run hot and I always have. I am not going to sit around sweating my ass off just so men can feel more comfortable. It’s not my responsibility to not turn them on. It’s their responsibility to not be an asshole.
Billy: I had written about ten or twelve songs so far. All of them in great shape. But I knew I couldn’t go in there and tell them that I’d written the album already. Like I did with the other two albums. I couldn’t say that.
Graham: It was kind of funny, to be honest. Watching Billy put on this act like he gave a shit what anyone else wanted on the album. God bless him.You could see the effort he was putting in. Talking all slow, thinking about his words.
Daisy: We were sitting around and I handed over my notebook. I said, “I’ve got a lot of good stuff in here to start from.” I thought maybe everyone could read it all and we could discuss it from there.
Billy: Here I am, holding back my twelve great songs, so that no one thinks I’m trying to control things, and Daisy’s just walking into a band she’s brand new to, expecting everyone to read a whole journal of ideas.
Daisy: He didn’t even flip through it.
Billy: If Daisy and I were going to write an album together, it needed to be just the two of us. You can’t give seven people a say in the words. Somebody had to take charge and control the process. So I said, “Look, I wrote this song ‘Aurora.’ It’s the one I really believe in out of everything I’m working on for this album. The rest is up to us all. Daisy and I will write some songs and everyone will take a crack at the arrangements and once we’ve got a slate of great songs that we all love, we’ll narrow it down to the best of the best.”
Karen: Maybe it’s revisionist history, but I think when Billy played “Aurora” it felt clear that we could build an album around it.
Graham: We were all on board with “Aurora” as a great place to start—it was a great frickin’ song. After that, Daisy started talking about ideas for the album as a whole.
Warren: I wanted no part in writing. That morning felt like a waste of my time. Everyone’s sitting around, talking about shit I don’t care about. I finally just said, “Don’t you all think that Daisy and Billy should go write the songs and come to us when they have them?”
Karen: Teddy was really decisive about it. He handed Billy the keys to his guesthouse and said, “You two pop on over to my place, set up in my guesthouse, and get to writing. Everyone else is going to get to work on this new one.”
Eddie: Billy didn’t want us composing anything for that song without him. But he also didn’t want Daisy writing songs without him. So he had to choose whether he went with Daisy and got started writing or stayed with us and worked on the arrangement for his new song. And he chose Daisy.
Billy: I got to Teddy’s pool house first and so I got settled. Made myself a cup of coffee, sat down, looked through my notes trying to decide what to show Daisy.
Daisy: By the time I opened the door, Billy’s already there, he’s got his notebook out to show me. Not so much as a hello. Just “Here, read my stuff.”
Billy: I told her the truth, I said, “I’ve got a lot of the album written already. Do you want to take a look at it and see where we can make adjustments together? See if maybe there’s some gaps that we can fill in with some new stuff or the stuff you’ve written already?”
Daisy: I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was never gonna be easy with him, was it? I think I grabbed one of the bottles of wine I saw on Teddy’s counter and I opened it up and flopped myself down on the sofa and just started drinking it. I said, “Billy, that’s great that you’ve written a bunch of songs already. I have, too. But we’re writing this album together.”
Billy: The woman is drinking warm white wine before it’s even noon and trying to lecture me on how things should go. She hadn’t even read my songs yet. I handed my work over to her and I said, “Read it first before you go telling me I should throw it away.”
Daisy: I said, “Ditto then.” And I shoved my notebook in his face. I could tell he didn’t want to read it. But he knew he had to.
Billy: I read her stuff, and it wasn’t bad, but I thought it wasn’t The Six. She used so many biblical metaphors. So when she asked me what I thought, I told her that. I said, “We should start with my stuff as the backbone. We can refine it together.” Daisy was sitting on the sofa with her feet up on the coffee table, which irked me. And then she said, “I’m not singing an entire album about your wife, Billy.”
Daisy: I really liked Camila. But “Señora” was about her. “Honeycomb” was about her. “Aurora” was about her. It was boring.
Billy: I said, “You’re writing the same song, too. We both know every song in this book is about the same thing.” Well, that got her upset. She put her hands on her hips and said, “What is that supposed to mean?” And I said, “Every single one of these songs is about the pills in your pockets.”
Daisy: Billy got this smug look on his face—Billy had this face that he would make when he thought he was smarter than everyone in the room. I swear, I have nightmares still about that goddamn face. I said to him, “You just think everybody’s writing about dope ’cause you can’t have any.” And he said, “You just go ahead and keep popping pills and writing songs about it. See where that gets you.” I tossed his pages at him. I said, “Sorry we all can’t be sober and writing songs as interesting as wallpaper paste. Oh, here’s a song about how much I love my wife. And another! And another!” He tried to tell me I was wrong but I said, “This whole pack of
songs is about Camila. You can’t keep writing apology songs to your wife and making the band play them.”
Billy: So out of line.
Daisy: I said, “Good for you for finding some other shit to be addicted to. But it’s not my problem and it’s not the band’s problem and nobody wants to listen to it.” You could see it on his face. That he knew I was right.
Billy: She thought she was brilliant because she’d realized that I’d replaced my addictions. Like I didn’t already know thatI clung to my love for my family to keep me sober. That just made me even more mad, that she thought she knew more about me than me. I said, “You want to know your problem? You think you’re a poet but other than talking about getting high, you don’t have anything to say.”
Daisy: Billy’s one of those people who has a sharp tongue. He can build you up and he can take you down, too.
Billy: She said, “I don’t need this shit.” And she left.
Daisy: I started heading out to my car—getting more rip-roaring angry with every step I took. I had a cherry red Benz back then. I loved that car. Until I crashed it by accident by leaving it in neutral on a hill. Anyway, that day with Billy, I was headed out to that Benz and I had my keys in my hand and I’m ready to get as far away from him as I can and I realize that if I leave, Billy would just write the album himself. And I turned right back around and I said, “Oh, no you don’t, asshole.”
Billy: I was really surprised that she came back.
Daisy: I walked right into the pool house and I sat down on the couch and I said, “I’m not giving up my chance to write a great album just because of you. So here’s how it’s gonna go. You hate my stuff, I hate your stuff. So we’ll scrap it all, start from nothing.” Billy said, “I’m not letting go of ‘Aurora.’It’s going on the album.” I said, “Fine.” And then I picked up one of his songs lying around where I’d thrown them and I shook it at him and I said, “But this shit isn’t.”
Billy: I think that was the first time I realized that there’s . . . There is no one more passionate about the work than Daisy. Daisy cared more than anybody. She was ready to put her whole soul into it. Regardless of how difficult I tried to make it. And I kept thinking about Teddy telling me she was how we were going to sell out stadiums. So I put out my hand and I said, “Fine.”
And we shook on it. ●
From the book Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Copyright © 2019 by Rabbit Reid, Inc. Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, One True Loves, Maybe In Another Life, After I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their daughter, and their dog.