They make a big deal about songwriting in Nashville. The country music industry throws parties when a song hits Number One, banners crowing about chart success are staked in the yards of the publishing offices lining Music Row, and the craft itself is spoken about in hushed, reverent tones — even if that mystical art is sometimes just three dudes in a room trying to find a new word to rhyme with “beer.”
Douglas relays his life’s arc in rich detail — from his mom’s vegetable soup that he ate while watching the Beatles to the soup-stained pajamas worn by his declining father — as he drives his truck, stops to order coffee and pump gas, and visit Nashville landmarks (like the Bluebird Cafe) that are important to him.
In between his oration, Douglas pauses to perform some of his songs, often in unexpected settings. He sings “I Run to You,” cut by Lady A, in the rain on a sidewalk; croons “My Little Girl,” recorded by Tim McGraw, in a bookstore; and, in the showstopper, quietly enters the Ryman Auditorium to play his biggest hit, Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” on a piano in the empty former church.
The camera follows Douglas as he ambles down his front steps, across his vast rural Tennessee property, through a cornfield, and into the driver’s seat of his vintage Chevy pickup. All the while, he’s talking, explaining with poetic flourish the art of songwriting as it relates to his own life. “They say you write about what you know,” he says. “I’m telling you my story not because it’s the best one, it’s just the one that I know the best.”