Chapter no 6

Daisy Jones and The Six

Fresh out of rehab and at home with Camila and his new daughter, Billy Dunne started writing songs again. When he had enough material, The Six got back into the studio to record their second album. From June to December of 1975, The Six recorded the ten songs that would become SevenEightNine. But when the band was done, Teddy told them that Rich Palentino did not feel confident they had a number one single on the album.

Billy: It felt like being cut off at the knees. We were ready to go. We were proud of that album.

Eddie: To be honest with you, I was surprised Teddy had not brought this up sooner. I heard the master of the album and it felt soft to me—at least in terms of what we were making songs about. Everything Billy had written was about his family.

Pete said it best. “Rock ’n’ roll is about getting it on with a girl for the first time. Not about making love to your wife.” And that was Pete saying that! He was as whipped as Billy.

Graham: I told Teddy we had a lot of songs that could be good singles. I said, “What about ‘Hold Your Breath’?”

He said, “Too slow.”

I said, “What about ‘Give In’?” He said, “Too hard rock.”

I kept naming songs and Teddy kept saying that Rich was right. The songs were good but we needed something with crossover appeal. He said we had to aim for number one. Our first album had done well but if we wanted to grow, we needed to aim higher.

I said, “Sure, but we aren’t trying to get to number one, necessarily. That’s for lowest common denominator stuff.”

Teddy said, “You should be aiming to be number one because you’re making the greatest fucking music out there.”

It was a fair point.

Billy: I don’t remember whose idea it was to do a duet. I know I wouldn’t have come up with it.

Eddie: When Teddy said he thought we should make “Honeycomb” a duet, I was even more confused. He was going to take the softest song on the album, add a female vocal to it, and that was going to fix the problem? That just made it even more of a Top 40 thing.

I said to Pete, “I will not be in a fucking soft rock band.”

Billy: “Honeycomb” is a romantic song, but it’s also kind of wistful. I’d written it about the life that I promised Camila. She wanted to move to North Carolina one day, when we were old and settling down. Her mother had grown up there. She wanted to get a place close to the water. Have a big lot of land with the closest neighbor a mile away.

It was a pledge I’d made her. That I would give her that one day. A big farmhouse, lots of kids. Some peace and quiet after all the storms I’d put her through. That’s what “Honeycomb” was about. It didn’t make any sense to have someone else come in on it.

Teddy disagreed. He said, “Write a part for a woman in it.

Write what Camila would say back to you.”

Graham: I thought we should give Karen a shot at the duet. She had a great voice.

Karen: I don’t have the kind of voice that can carry a lead part. I can do you a solid and back you up in the chorus but I can’t hold my own.

Warren: Graham was always tripping over himself to pay Karen a compliment. I was always thinking, It’s not gonna happen for

you, man. Get over it.

Billy: Teddy had all these ideas about bringing in a woman from the dance club scene. I did not like that.

Karen: Teddy named about ten girls until Billy finally relented. I watched it happen.

Billy was going down the list Teddy had written just going, “No. No. No. Tonya Reading? No. Suzy Smith? No.” And then Billy goes, “Who is Daisy Jones?”

And Teddy got all amped up, said he was hoping Billy would ask that because he thought Daisy was the one.

Graham: Now, I’d heard Daisy sing at the Golden Bear a few months back. I thought she was sexy as hell. Her voice was so raspy and cool. But I didn’t think she fit on the record. She was younger, poppier. I said to Teddy, “Why can’t you get us Linda Ronstadt?” Everybody had a thing for her back then. But Teddy said it should be someone from our label. He said Daisy had a more commercial vibe that we could benefit from.

I had to admit I saw where Teddy was coming from.

I said to Billy, “If Teddy is trying to bring in a different demographic, Daisy makes sense.”

Billy: Teddy wasn’t letting up. Daisy Daisy Daisy. Even Graham started in on me. I said, “Fine. If this girl Daisy wants to do it, then we’ll try it.”

Rod: Teddy was a good producer. He knew people in town were just starting to get excited about Daisy Jones. If this song turned out well, it could make a splash.

Daisy: I had heard of The Six, obviously, being on the same label and everything. And I’d heard their singles on the radio.

I hadn’t bothered to listen to their debut album that much but when Teddy played me SevenEightNine, I was blown away. I loved

that album. I must have listened to “Hold Your Breath” about ten times in a row.

I loved Billy’s voice. There was something so plaintive about it. So vulnerable. I thought, This is the voice of a man who’s seen things. I thought it was so evocative to sound broken the way he did. I didn’t have that. I sounded like a cool new pair of jeans and Billy sounded like the pair you’ve had for years.

I could see the potential of how we could really complement each other. So I kept listening to their cut of “Honeycomb,” and I could feel something missing. I read the lyrics and I…I really got that song.

This felt like my shot to offer something up, to add something. I was excited to get in the studio because I thought I could really be of use.

Billy: We were all there in the studio that day when Daisy came in and I thought everybody but me and Teddy should have gone home.

Daisy: I was going to wear one of my Halstons. And then I woke up late and lost my keys and couldn’t find my pill bottle and the morning got away from me.

Karen: When she showed up, she was wearing a men’s button- down shirt as a dress. That was it. I remember thinking, Where are her pants?

Eddie: Daisy Jones was the most gorgeous woman I ever laid eyes on. She had those big eyes. Those super-full lips. And she was as tall as I was. She looked like a gazelle.

Warren: Daisy had no ass, no tits. A carpenter’s dream as they call ’em. Flat as a board, easy to nail. Well, I don’t know if she was easy to nail. Probably not. The way men reacted to her, she held all the cards and she knew it. When Pete saw her, he might as well have let his tongue roll out of his mouth.

Karen: She was so pretty that I worried I was staring at her. But then I thought, Hell, she’s probably been stared at her whole life. She probably thinks looking means staring.

Billy: I saw her and I introduced myself, and I said, “Glad to have you here. Thanks for helping us out.” I asked if she wanted to talk about the song a bit, practice what she was gonna lay down.

Daisy: I’d been working on it all night. I’d been in the studio with Teddy a few days before, listening to it over and over. I had a good idea of what I wanted to do.

Billy: Daisy just said, “No, thanks.” Like that. Like I had nothing of value to offer.

Rod: She went right into the booth and started warming up.

Karen: I said, “Guys, we don’t all need to be here watching her.” But nobody moved.

Daisy: I finally had to say, “Can I have some room to breathe, please?”

Billy: Finally everybody started funneling out except me, Teddy, and Artie.

Artie Snyder: I miked her up in one of the iso booths. We did a couple test runs and for whatever reason, the mike wasn’t working.

It took me about forty-five minutes to get that mike going. She was standing there, singing into it on and off, going, “Testing, testing, one two three.” Helping me out. I could feel Billy getting more and more tense. But Daisy was so calm about it. I said, “I’m sorry about this,” and she said, “It takes as long as it takes and you’ll get it when you get it.”

Daisy always did right by me. She always made it seem like she cared about how my day was going. Not a lot of people did


Daisy: I had read the lyrics to the song what felt like a million times. I had my own idea of how I wanted it to go.

Billy sang it in this sort of pleading way. I thought the way he sang it made it seem like he wasn’t sure he believed his own promise. And I loved that. I thought that made it so interesting. So I had this plan to sing my part like I wanted to believe him but maybe deep down inside I didn’t. I thought that gave the song some layers.

When we got the mike working—you know, Artie’s giving me the signal to start and Billy and Teddy are watching me—I got up into the mike and I sang it like I didn’t believe Billy was going to buy a house near the honeycomb, that it wasn’t really ever gonna happen. That was my angle on it.

During the refrain, the lyrics were originally “The life we want will wait for us/We will live to see the lights coming off the bay/And you will hold me, you will hold me, you will hold me/until that day.”

I sang it straight through on the first go-around but the second time I sang it, I changed it up a bit. I said, “Will the life we want wait for us?/Will we live to see the lights coming off the bay?/Will you hold me, will you hold me, will you hold me until that day?”

I sang them as questions as opposed to statements.

Billy didn’t even let me finish before he popped up and hit the talkback.

Billy: She sang the words wrong. It didn’t make sense to have her keep going with the words wrong.

Artie Snyder: Billy would never have allowed someone to interrupt him like that. I was genuinely surprised when he did that.

Billy: The song was about a happy ending after turmoil. I didn’t think doubt worked in that context.

Karen: Billy wrote that song trying to convince himself that this future he saw with Camila was a sure thing. But he and Camila both knew Billy could relapse at any moment.

I mean, the first month he was out of rehab, he gained ten pounds because he was eating chocolate bars in the middle of the night. And then when he stopped doing that, there was all the woodworking. You’d go over to Billy and Camila’s and Billy would be obsessing over some mahogany dining room table he was trying to make and there were all these shitty dining chairs he’d nailed together.

And don’t get me started on the shopping. Oh, and the running was maybe the worst of it. For about two months, Billy would run however many miles a day. He’d be wearing those little dolphin shorts and muscle tanks bobbing down the street.

Rod: Billy was trying. This was a guy who made so many things seem easy. But he was trying very hard to stay sober. And you could see the strain on him.

Karen: Billy was writing songs trying to tell himself he had got it all under control, that decades out he’ll still have his sobriety and his wife and his family.

And in about two minutes of singing, Daisy pulled the tablecloth from under the dishes.

Rod: Daisy did a few more takes and it really seemed easy for her. She didn’t have to work for it. She wasn’t bleeding for every note.

But when Billy left the studio, I could tell he was pretty tense. I said, “Don’t take work home with you.” But the problem wasn’t that he had brought work home with him. It was that he had brought home into work.

Karen: “Honeycomb” used to be a song about security, and it became a song about insecurity.

Billy: That night, I told Camila about how Daisy sang it, with the questions.

You know, Camila’s got her hands full with Julia and I’m talking her ear off complaining about this song. She just said, “It’s not real life, Billy. It’s a song. Don’t get bent out of shape.” It was so simple for her. I should just get over it.

But I couldn’t get over it. I did not like that Daisy turned those lines into questions and I didn’t like that she had felt the right to do it.

Camila: When you put your life in your music, you can’t be clearheaded about your music.

Graham: I think Daisy was just very unexpected for Billy.

Artie Snyder: When we cut together the version with Daisy, it was so compelling—their voices together—that Teddy wanted to strip almost everything else away. He had me soften the drums a bit, amp up the keys, cut out some of Graham’s more distracting flourishes.

What we were left with was this sprawling acoustic guitar and percussive piano. Most of the attention went to the vocals. The song became, entirely, about the relationship of the voices. I mean…it moved—it was still up-tempo, it still had a rhythm—but it was eclipsed by the vocal. You were hypnotized by Billy and Daisy.

Eddie: They took a rock song and they made it a pop song! And they were so pleased with themselves about it.

Rod: Teddy was over the moon with how it turned out. I liked it, too. But you could see the way Billy bristled as he listened to it.

Billy: I liked the new mix. But I did not like Daisy’s vocals. I said, “Just do the new mix without her vocals. It doesn’t need to be a duet.” Teddy just kept telling me I had to trust him. He said that I had written a hit song and that I had to let him do his thing.

Graham: Billy was always in charge, you know? Billy wrote the lyrics, Billy composed and arranged all of the songs. If Billy goes to rehab the tour is over. If Billy is ready to go back to the studio, we all have to report for duty. He ran the show.

So “Honeycomb” was not easy for him.

Billy: We were all a team.

Eddie: Man, Billy was in such denial of what a bulldozer he was to the rest of us. Billy got Billy’s way every time and when Daisy showed up, he stopped getting his way every time.

Daisy: I did not understand what Billy had against me. I came in and I made the song just a little bit better. What was there to be upset about?

I ran into Billy at the studio a few days later, to hear the final cut, and I smiled at him. I said hello. He just nodded his head at me. Like, he was doing me a favor by acknowledging my presence. He couldn’t even extend a professional courtesy.

Karen: It was a man’s world. The whole world was a man’s world but the recording industry…it wasn’t easy. You had to get some guy’s approval to do just about anything and it seemed like there were two ways to go about it. You either acted like one of the boys, which is the way I had found. Or you acted real girlie and flirty and batted your eyelashes. They liked that.

But Daisy, from the beginning, was sort of outside of all that.

She was just sort of “Take me or leave me.”

Daisy: I didn’t care if I was famous or not. I didn’t care if I got to sing on your record or not. All I wanted to do was make something interesting and original and cool.

Karen: When I first started, I wanted to play the electric guitar. And my dad got me piano lessons instead. He didn’t mean anything by it—he just thought the keys are what girls play.

But it was stuff like that, every time I tried anything.

When I auditioned for the Winters, I had this really great minidress I’d just bought, it was pale blue with a big belt across it. It felt like a lucky dress. Well, the day I tried out, I didn’t wear it. Because I knew they’d see a girl. And I wanted them to see a keyboardist. So I wore jeans and a University of Chicago T-shirt I stole from my brother.

Daisy wasn’t like that. It would never have occurred to Daisy to do that.

Daisy: I wore what I wanted when I wanted. I did what I wanted with who I wanted. And if somebody didn’t like it, screw ’em.

Karen: You know how every once in a while you’ll meet somebody who seems to be floating through life? Daisy sort of floated through the world, oblivious to the way it really worked.

I suppose I probably should have hated her for it, but I didn’t. I loved her for it. Because it meant she was less inclined to take the shit I’d been taking for years now. And with her around, I didn’t have to take that shit either.

Daisy: Karen was the kind of person who had more talent in her finger than most people have in their whole body and The Six was underutilizing her. She fixed that, though. She fixed that on the next one.

Billy: When the record was about to be pressed, I said to Teddy, “You made me hate my own song.”

And Teddy said to me, “You’re going to need to work really hard at getting over yourself. Something tells me hitting the top of the charts is going to ease the sting a bit.”

Nick Harris (rock critic)On “Honeycomb,” Billy and Daisy and the way they play off each other was the beginning of what worked so well about Daisy Jones & The Six.

The chemistry between their voices—his vulnerability, her fragility—it grabs you and doesn’t let you go. With his voice deep and smooth, and her voice higher and raspier, they somehow still

meld together effortlessly, like two voices that have been singing together for ages. They created a deeply heartfelt call and response

—a story of this romantic and idealized future that may never come to pass.

The song verges on being a bit saccharine. But the end undercuts the sweetness just enough. It could have been the kind of song teens play at prom. Instead, we have a passionate testament to the fact that things don’t always work out.

SevenEightNine was a good album, in some ways a great album. It was more explicitly romantic than their debut—fewer allusions to sex or drugs. It still rocked, though. It had that driving rhythm section, those piercing riffs.

But “Honeycomb” was the clear standout. “Honeycomb” showed the world that The Six could put out a first-class pop song. It was a pivot, to be sure, but it’s the beginning of their rise to the top.

You'll Also Like