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Somebody Everybody Listens To, Suzanne Supplee

2010/05/19

Retta Lee Jones is just a girl from the small town of Starling, hoping to make it in Nashville after she graduates high school. With $514.76 in savings and her great aunt’s 1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic, Retta leaves her family, which includes her physically disabled father and her nagging mother, and heads to Nashville, where the first thing she does is get a parking ticket on Music Row. Arriving in the middle of Country Music Week, she drives miles in search of a motel, runs into a stone wall by the side of the road, and ends up working for the mechanic who comes to tow her car to the shop. Ricky Dean’s Auto Den is far from her dream job, and Retta valiantly attends open mike nights and sings at a failing hotel for senior citizens and tourists in an attempt to pursue her dream of music. Things are just starting to look up for Retta when her father calls to say that her mother has run off with the owner of the local Dollar King store.

As someone with a bit of knowledge about the music industry and how Nashville works, I know that this novel is an excellent portrayal of the ups and downs that musicians face. Retta learns things that many Nashville hopefuls already know — Deandra, a musician turned clothing store proprietor bitterly imparts many of these tidbits to her, such as “If it wasn’t for auto tune, half of Music City would have to pack up and go home.” Scattered between chapters are profiles of Nashville musicians such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Hank Williams, Martina McBride, and Keith Urban, listing their previous jobs, big break, and life-changing events which impacted their career. The cover and title pages are attractively photographed and printed. An excellent read for music lovers and aspiring singer-songwriters.

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