What is Success

Jul 27, 2023 by Gency Brown
Neon lights on Nashville Street

Hi, y’all. Welcome back to The Little Brown Cabin. I don’t mean to brag, but it’s nice here. Or at least better than the triple digit temperatures a lot of the country is experiencing. My little cabin retreat sits high enough that the coolness of morning lingers until lunch time. That means perfect fly fishing for my dinner.

This episode I thought I’d give you a feeling for how hard it was for Randy, the main character of my novel, to make it in Nashville. Randy has the dream, the work ethic and tenacity to get it done, though he is one of hundreds trying.

It’s said there are, on average, eighty-two hopefuls who move to Nashville each day. Of course, that means a few are leaving at the same time. Otherwise, the place would burst at the seams. It’s a tough life and not everyone can make it. As an author, my challenge was to give the story enough of the day-to-day struggles without depressing and discouraging the reader. It turns out the struggle is a crucial character in the story.

In this excerpt from A Right Fine Life, we see Randy get a reminder of just how tough it can be. This time it’s while juggling studio work with his own gigs around town.


--The following day, he watched the clock in the studio until Aaron called it finished. Randy put his instrument away fast and ran to his vehicle for the drive through busy Nashville streets, often testing the length of a yellow light at an intersection. He burst through the doors of the bar to find another singer on stage in his place. Anger and frustration filled his voice when he approached the manager. “What’s going on? You knew I’d be here. You replaced me?”

“Look, kid, I can’t serve up maybe to this mob. You know the rules. You’re not here warming up fifteen minutes before your time, you’re out.”

The man turned his back and walked away. After the set, the performer left the stage and bumped into Randy on his way by. “Too bad, sucker. You snooze, you lose. Ha ha ha.”

Randy grabbed the man’s arm and drew him around to meet the force of his clinched fist. The fallen singer returned as good as he got until bystanders stopped the fight. The next morning, the studio erupted in laughter when his fellow musicians saw the black eye and cut lip.

Sammy held him at arm’s length to look him over. “Man, you look awful. You know, you really need to protect that pretty face. I guess welcome to Nashville is all I can say.” –



Of course, there are good times enough to keep young musicians trying. At least until they can’t. Many, like Randy, miss family. Others simply tire of the seemingly endless ups and downs. “Yes, you’re good. No, we can’t use you.” Would you say they failed? Maybe in some cases. Others returned to a life of selling life insurance, ranching, or teaching while performing at the VFW on Saturday nights. I have friends who made the Nashville journey and found what they really needed by going home to happy lives with music always around in some way.


In today’s technology filled world, much of the songwriting and recording can be done without physically being in Music City. Does that make you a well-known star with filled arenas and millions in the bank? Probably not, but when you realize quality of life is most important, it’s not settling. It’s succeeding in a different way than you planned.

Randy and his mentor, Tom, sat on the porch one evening when Randy asked a question.


-- “Can I ask why you left Nashville when you seemed to do so well?” Randy didn’t want to be disrespectful, but wanted to know.

Tom drew a long breath before responding. “Yeah, we might as well get that conversation over with.” He sipped his tea and began. “I had my dreams of a solo career, and some came true. It was exciting in my younger years, and very lucrative. There’s no denying that. Then, when Jennie and I married, the babies started coming, and it got harder to be gone so much. Some live in the life their entire careers. I wanted something different. So, I stepped back and worked for a few highly successful folks. Even tried studio session work for a while, which kept me home and paid well. The music changed, too. I liked it, but wasn’t sure how long I would fit into the younger crowd. Later, when Buck Owens offered me a way out, (he works at Buck’s Crystal Palace in Bakersfield) I accepted his offer and haven’t looked back. My time in Nashville had come and gone.”

Randy summed up what he understood. “It kept you around the music business, and you could have the family life you wanted.”

Tom turned to Randy and spoke as he would to a son. “Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with the life, but it’s not for everyone. One day, you come to a crossroads and you have to make your own choices. Was it easier for me to choose after I had some success and money? Of course, it was. If the business is your dream, give it a shot. I’m only saying this has been right for me and my family.”--


What’s right for you? Nashville doesn’t have a lock on being a tough place to make it. I hope you’ll dig deep and ask yourself the hard questions before you spend a life working at something you don’t love. Or wallowing in self pity because you didn’t. It’s not failure to change. It’s the success of doing what makes you happy.


Thanks for visiting The Little Brown Cabin. I hope soon to have news about a release date and presale of A Right Fine Life. Sign up for my occasional emails at my website gencybrown.com

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