City of dreams


I was in Nashville, Tenn., a few weeks ago attending the Southeast Convention of the Marine Corps League. It was Friday night, I was weary, and there was nothing on TV, so I decided to go to bed early.

As I was preparing to turn in, I kept hearing the steady beat of music coming from somewhere. After a bit of investigation, I concluded that the sounds were coming from the restaurant in the hotel. I boarded the elevator to the first floor, wandered in and joined two couples who were also present for the convention.

The Opry Backstage Grill is embedded in the Inn at Opryland where the convention was being held. The grill, in addition to being a pretty good place to eat, features servers and hosts/hostesses who sing and play when they are not doing their restaurant jobs. The music presented by these young men and women was … well, excellent.

Most of the music was country. This is Nashville, after all. One band, however, did a rousing rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog.” I was struck by how good these young artists actually were.

I made a request for a Zac Brown song and was happily rewarded. At the break, the lead singer of the band, a 25 year old server when not on stage, came to our table and sat down.

He answered any number of questions that we posed to him, one of those being, “Do you think you’ll make it in Nashville?” He smiled, and admitted that the chances of landing a record contract were about the same as a high school football player eventually making it in the National Football League.

Nevertheless, he allowed, not to try, not to give it your best shot, was to guarantee that the dream would never be realized. I had to admit that his playing and singing abilities were certainly as good as some country singers that I had heard.

I got to thinking about how many other hopeful singers and musicians were working jobs by day and playing in restaurants and clubs by night hoping for the elusive “break” to come their way. Nashville is a bona fide city of dreams.

I remembered that a nephew of mine was in that same town doing the same thing. My nephew had dropped out of college and headed to Nashville and was now working in the food industry and playing where possible.

To some, it was a foolish act. To me, as I sat listening to my new friend at the table, I envied his courage. “Do or do not. There is no try,” Yoda once said. These dreamers were doing more than dreaming. They were doing.

Will they make the big time? Will they get a record contract? The odds are certainly against it. But somebody will make it and somebody will get the contract. The surest guarantee of failure is not to try. It is said that, at the end of life, most people regret what they didn’t do, rather than what they did.

These people, my nephew included, are young enough that, if they don’t realize their dreams, they can still do other things and be fulfilled. Maybe they, with Toby Keith, will be able to sing someday:

“How do you like me now,
Now that I’m on my way?
Do you still think I’m crazy
Standin’ here today?
I couldn’t make you love me
But I always dreamed about
living in your radio.
How do you like me now?”

Dream on, singers and musicians. Give it your best shot. Better to have tried and fallen short than never to have tried at all.

And I might just hear you on the radio someday.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( . He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at]