Skip to main content

They Came to Nashville

Author(s): Marshall Chapman

Musician-turned-author/journalist Marshall Chapman (Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller) asks Nashville stars what brought them to Music City USA.

Marshall Chapman knows Nashville. A musician, songwriter, and author with nearly a dozen albums and a bestselling memoir under her belt, Chapman has lived and breathed Music City for over forty years. Her friendships with those who helped make Nashville one of the major forces in American music culture is unsurpassed. And in her new book, They Came to Nashville, the reader is invited to see Marshall Chapman as never before--as music journalist extraordinaire.

In They Came to Nashville, Chapman records the personal stories of musicians shaping the modern history of music in Nashville, from the mouths of the musicians themselves. The trials, tribulations, and evolution of Music City are on display, as she sits down with influential figures like Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, and Miranda Lambert, and a dozen other top names, to record what brought each of them to Nashville and what inspired them to persevere. The book culminates in a hilarious and heroic attempt to find enough free time with Willie Nelson to get a proper interview. Instead, she's brought along on his raucous 2008 tour and winds up onstage in Beaumont, Texas singing "Good-Hearted Woman" with Willie.

They Came to Nashville reveals the daily struggle facing newcomers to the music business, and the promise awaiting those willing to fight for the dream.

Co-published with the Country Music Foundation Press

Biography of Author(s)

Marshall Chapman came to Nashville in 1967 to attend Vanderbilt University and wrote her first song in 1973. Her songs have been recorded by Conway Twitty, Jimmy Buffett and many others. She is a contributing editor of Garden & Gun and Nashville Arts magazines and author of Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller, which was a finalist for the 2004 SEBA Book Award and Book Critics Circle Award.


  • "Chapman is a great storyteller and has a knack for turning these sometimes rambling narratives into compelling portraits of musicians' lives as well as a tribute to Nashville."
    --The Library Journal
  • "It's sometimes too easy to assume our musical heroes are somehow superhuman, but every one of these interviews, and the chapter on Willie Nelson, reveal just how human and normal they really are. Sure, talent is something special, but Chapman realizes that great insights can be generated after remembering details about the car driven for the first time to the city where music dreams were accomplished."
  • "Only Marshall Chapman has the talent and fabulous reputation in the music business to author this book. They Came to Nashville is the book to own about the music business. Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Don Henry, Willie Newlson and Beth Nielsen Chapman are just a few of the stars who share with Chapan the ups and downs of why they came and stayed or not in Nashville."
  • "Hearing bold-letter names narrate their humble first days in town can be charming and disarming, and the book is in a lot of ways about chasing dreams, told by a lineup of people who actually caught them (it's less hokey than it sounds)."
  • "the chronicle that dreamers with guitars on their backs and music in their hearts will want to keep close as they reach for the bright lights of stardom."
  • "Reading these wide-ranging interviews is like sitting in on intimate conversations between old friends reminiscing about good times and bad in a city where the promise of a music career inspires musicians to persevere doggedly in pursuit of their dreams."
  • "What is impressive about Marshall Chapman is that she is a champion listener."
  • "The result is a fascinating if episodic, picture of the Nashville music scene, especially along the creasees whre country and rock once overlapped and, to an extent, still do."
  • "I didn't read this book as much as I inhaled it ... great insights into the ways of 15 great American creators."
    --William McKeen, author of Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson
  • "Chapman brings us memorable Nashvillians and nails that 'coming to town' experience in funny, charming, honest ways."
    --Barry Mazor, author of Meeting Jimmie Rodgers
  • "Who but Marshall could have brought back these living, breathing tales from the other side of Nashville?"
    --Chet Flippo, Editorial Director, CMT/