‘Daisy Jones & The Six’ Episode 5 Recap: “Fire”
“Lemme guess. It’s about your wife, and the rain…” As Daisy Jones & The Six Episode 5 (“Fire”) begins, everyone’s arrived at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys for a recording session, and Daisy can’t resist a dig at Billy’s songwriting. In the present, members of The Six chuckle, because Billy’s song really was about Camila and surging weather patterns. But in terms of a new album, and one including a new member of the group, Daisy’s point is more than valid. “I’m not here to sing harmony on a bunch of love songs about your wife,” she tells Billy. “If we’re in a band, then the album has to be just as much mine as it is yours, as it is Karen’s and Graham’s and Warren’s, and that guy’s.” (She hasn’t gotten around to knowing Eddie’s name yet.) It’s November 9, 1975, and The Six are gonna need to reckon with their sound, vision, and the nature of collaboration if anything’s to be built off the success of “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb).”
The bickering in the studio ends once Teddy Price shows up like a dad about to take off his belt, and the producer banishes Daisy and Billy so they can work their shit out. “What do you know about fighting? Why are you so obsessed with your wife? Why can’t you write a song about anything else?” Daisy has a lot of questions for Billy as they clown hickory burgers at Apple Pan. But she also explains how she wrote the majority of “Stumbled on Sublime” before her ex Wyatt stole it and made it a hit, and Billy is quietly mollified. Have they reached a working consensus? It seems so. Great, Daisy says. “Maybe you can stop being such a dick all the time.”
With the day off from recording, Eddie and Warren go see James Caan in Rollerball while Graham gets ready to go surfing. Maybe he’d like some company at the beach, Karen wonders with a slight twinkle in her eye. Sure, but then she’s surprised to be a third wheel with her bandmate and Caroline (Olivia Rose Keegan), a premed student he’s been seeing. Caroline turns out to be nice, even if she is a Barry Manilow fan. “I think it’s cool you’re in a rock band,” she tells Karen. “You know, being a woman and all. You almost never see that.” And Karen agrees that it’s sad, but true. And Karen, seeing nice, eager Graham through Caroline’s eyes, also agrees that he’s kind of a catch. And her surfing lesson telegraphs their romance to come.
It’s typical Daisy to ferret Teddy’s spare key and transform his sick chunk of Hollywood Hills real estate into a private songwriting incubator for her and Billy. They trade lyric notebooks, she laughs again at his motivations, and he frowns upon her pill popping and champagne for breakfast practices. They argue some more. She goes for a swim. But they also begin to ruminate on a guitar riff, and Daisy’s probing helps disrupt Billy’s songwriting fallbacks. “You write songs about who you wish you were. Not who you are. What if you didn’t do that?” These two have more in common than they believed – absentee mothers and/or fathers being one of them – and their one on one writing session starts to bear fruit. “It’s quite a feeling when it works,” Billy says in the present.
Karen and Graham left Caroline and his surfboard in the driveway while they stepped inside the Laurel Canyon house for a makeout session that was a long time coming. But it’s cut short as the rhythm section arrives home from the movies and there’s a phone call from Teddy. The session is back on. And the group reassmbles at Sound City to learn “Let Me Down Easy,” the first song collaboratively penned by Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne. The guitar riff had originally come from Graham, Billy gives Eddie free rein on the bass parts, Karen’s evocative keys are way up in the mix, and Warren is ready with a steady-on snare drum as Daisy takes the first verse and Billy the second. “Let Me Down Easy” isn’t soft, nor is it a ballad. There’s a Lindsey Buckingham-like insistence to its guitar line, and the chorus is another chance for Daisy and Billy’s bracing harmonies to shine. In short, it has the makings of a hit – “I’m a motherfucking genius,” Teddy Price says in the control room – but the band knows it also marks a creative breakthrough. “It let everyone contribute,” Eddie says in the present. “It wasn’t just the Billy show anymore. Daisy did that for us.”
But what else has she done? “I remember having this feeling, like nothing would ever be the same again,” Karen tells her interviewer about that evening in the studio. And part of her is certainly referencing her new intra-band romance as a shift in the group dynamic. But she continues. “It was obvious they made each other better,” she says of Daisy and Billy working so closely together. And then a shoe drops. “Until, of course, it didn’t.”
That morning, before the session, Billy woke up, went for a run, and hugged and kissed his wife and child goodbye while Daisy awoke at the Chateau Marmont with a stranger in her bed and the remainder of last night’s red wine as mouthwash. She asked Billy about his sobriety during their work on the song; more than once, he noticed her chase pills with booze. There’s some kind of undefined yet powerful sexual energy pinging between them. And whether that’s simply a component of their joint creativity when writing a song or a portent of marital and rock ‘n’ roll destruction will have to be determined.
Needle drops in Daisy Jones & The Six Episode 5:
Roxy Music, “Love is the Drug”
Barry Manilow, “I Write the Songs”
Barry Manilow, “Could It Be Magic”
Dixie Cups, “Iko Iko”
Beach Boys, “In My Room”
Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose, “Too Late to Turn Back Now”
Neu!, “After Eight”
Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges