Nashville Music Matters: A Life that’s Good

It’s a well-known fact that ABC’s Nashville has great music. But is Nashville just a TV show with an exceptionally good soundtracks or that music serves as something more? Following the journey of one of its signature songs ‘A Life that’s good’, that closes every Nashville cast concert, gives some interesting answers . 

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The music on Nashville is a storyteller. It opens a gate to the past, hints about the future and usually adds another dimension to the story. Every once in a while it even serves as a Meta commentary for the entire show.

‘A Life that’s good’ is song that fits this category. Written by (the super talented) Ashley Monroe and Sarah Siskind, it’s a song that’s been featured on the show several times during Nashville‘s second season as part of Rayna and Deacon family drama. Following its journey on the show and looking into the ways it was weaved into the storyline gives us an insight to the unique way Nashville uses music and also subsequently the way it inspires the people that listen to embrace that music.

To do so, let’s go back to the beginning.

More: Why I Became A Nashville Fan and How it Inspired My Life 

The Secret Comes Out – The first time ‘A Life that’s good’ is featured on Nashville is at the beginning of episode 2.04 ‘You’re no Angel yourself’ (Written by Wendy Calhoun).We hear Deacon’s voice through Maddie’s earphones as she’s listening to his old album and quickly learns it was written about Rayna; about the life Deacon dreamt of having with her.

Maddie-Listen-LifeThatsGood-204It’s hard for Maddie to process the recent events. It’s very likely that all she wants is go back to normal and pretend none of it ever happened. But it did and underneath the anger, fear, frustration and confusion there’s curiosity.

And so, for her, music is a friend, an escape route and a guide to help her solve the pieces of her family puzzle.

Sadly, it’s also a wall that stands between her and those around – especially her mother. That’s because Deacon’s songs, much like the birth certificate Rayna buried in her closet, are a secret; something that’s not being talked about.

Later in the episode, Maddie’s metaphorical escape to music turns into a physical one and forces everyone out of their comfort zone.

During the last scene of the episode we hear ‘A Life that’s good’ for the second time but unlike the first time it’s no longer a Maddie-Rayna-Talk-Edit-204secret, an escape or a wall.

Maddie is now far less angry and more open even though she still has a lot more to process. The main contributor for this change is that thanks to her heart to heart conversation with her mother and the talk with Deacon she starts to feel less alone with what she’s going through.

Therefore when her sister confronts her about the fact that Maddie’s escape hurt her, she chooses to share with her a little bit of what she’s going through; she chooses to share with her the elephant in the room – Deacon’s song.

And just like that, the same music that separated Maddie from her family and isolated her brings her closer to them and even reconnects the two sisters.

But that’s not all because while her girls were singing, Rayna walked by and overheard them.

She was instantly overwhelmed by emotions.

For her it was a bittersweet moment. On the one hand the song holds the memory of her broken heart and shattered dreams. But on the other, a song, like any creation, once it’s released out to the world – gets a life of its own. That’s why even though ‘A Life that’s good’ was Deacon’s song it was also not his song.

At that particular moment it belonged to Maddie and Daphne.

Their sweet harmonies and pure voices give the song a new meaning; no longer a bitter memory but a fresh promise. That’s why at the end Rayna can’t help but smile and try to sing along.  After all, regardless of Deacon she too is wishing for those things for her and for her girls.

Only one person is missing from this moment – Deacon. At this point he still doesn’t know how to make the first step as a father. What he also doesn’t know is that music works in mysterious ways and that at that very minute music is showing him the way and slowly opens a gate for him to enter.

Becoming a Father – The third time we hear ‘A Life that’s good’ is in episode 2.09 ‘I’m Tired of Pretending’ (Written by David Handelman). At this point of the story music already opened a little gateway for Deacon to be involved in Maddie’s life by making him, her guitar teacher. These weekly lessons allow them to reacquaint with one another through the one thing they both know they share in common – music.

It gives them a safe place to get to know each other better and a way to develop their father-daughter relationship without putting too much pressure on either side and upsetting the family balance too much. After all, it’s only music.

But if there’s something we learned on Nashville is that music is never just music.

When Maddie invites Deacon to come and hear her sing at an open mic event, music gives both of them the perfect excuse to meet outside the realm of guitar lessons.

On stage, after Maddie invites Deacon to join her to sing “a very important song for her”, it becomes clear the fact that music is definitely not just music becomes visible to everyone.

Like Rayna, the first thing that happens Deacon when he hears the first lines from the song is that the lyrics of the song is that it takes him back to his past; to all his regrets since for him this song holds all that he once wanted but never got. So he stands on stage, looking uncomfortable and even a little ashamed that his “secret” is out for everyone to see.

But as the song progresses something changes, and like Rayna before him he starts also hearing it with fresh pair of ears.

Through the music, Deacon feels the connection between him and Maddie that we, the audience, already saw come into being when Maddie and Daphne sang together.

While watching Maddie and seeing how happy she looks he realized that his prayer for ‘A life that’s good’ has been answered in the form of being a father to this girl. Suddenly for him, the song is not just about him. It’s also about Maddie and her dreams that he, without even knowing, inspired and is part of. His dreams became hers and it’s his job to protect them.

So music once again changed the lives of people and the song that once was a source for self-flagellation and that demonstrated to Deacon why he’s not fit to be a father, brought him and Maddie closer together and eventually made him a father. He got up to the stage as music teacher that felt out of place and came down a proud, loving dad.

Family at Last  –The opportunity to hear the ‘A Life that’s Good’ once more presents itself in episode 2.21 ‘All or Nothing with Me’ (Written by Dee Johnson) at an army base no less. Rayna and the girls prepare to sing it for the soldiers in the base as Maddie asks Rayna to invite Deacon, the songwriter, to join them. It’s Rayna, Maddie, Daphne and Deacon.

A lot has happened since the moment Deacon and Maddie sang on the open mic event and now it seems that the main things that were a source of conflict at the beginning of the season when we first heard the song have been resolved. Maddie and Deacon established father-daughter relationship that exceeded beyond music lessons; Deacon confronted his past and slowly but surely learned how to embrace his role as father and Rayna moved on and started building her own version of “A life that’s good’. Moreover, during that episode, Rayna and Deacon reconciled and found a way to put that part of the past behind them.

In that context, the new version of a life that’s good seems like a happy ending for a long journey that brings the song and all those involved full circle.

The arrangement implies it.

Deacon who wrote the song starts off the song, Rayna who was the object of the song, then the girls that gave it new life and then all of them together in a perfect harmony.

And there’s one more important detail. This time Rayna is the lead vocalist. She, who hid the family secret and by that also the story behind this song, owns up to it and shares it with the world; the puzzle is complete.

Only a full circle doesn’t mean it’s the end. For this particular storyline, the complete puzzle was a family that music is its foundations and picture-perfect this moment produced showed just how strong those foundations are. Each one of the members of this family came to terms with it in his and her own time (actually Daphne is still struggling) but that performance made it clear that it’s not a thing of the past.

Related: More Nashville Music Matters

It’s also not the end because music has no limits or end and therefore when Rayna, Deacon and the girls celebrated their end of a journey, it was no longer just their song, so they dedicated it to the audience, gave it back to the world and new circles opened.

One of the circles it opened is the YouTube circle of covers for Nashville songs; it’s full of them and no other Nashville song has more covers than this one. Probably my favorite version is not the most professional one and definitely not the most watched one but it’s the most sincere one.

It’s a long road from two songwriters in Nashville that wrote it for themselves to a TV show and then to rest of the world. Singles, Live concerts or one person sitting in his or her room singing it like it was written about them, like they wrote it.

It’s a long road but it’s worth it for all the moments it creates and the hearts it touches.

That’s what music does, that’s what Nashville does with music and music is never “just” music.

A Life that’s Good

Sitting here tonight,
By the fire light,
it reminds me I already have more than I should.

I don’t need fame, no one to know my name,
at the end of the day,
Lord I pray, I have a life that’s good.

Two arms around me, heaven to ground me,
and a family that always calls me home,

Four wheels to get there, enough love to share
and a sweet sweet sweet song

At the end of the day,
Lord I pray,
I have a life that’s good.

Sometimes I’m hard on me,
When dreams don’t come easy,
I wanna look back and say,
I did all that I could,

Yeah at the end of the day, Lord I pray,
I have a life that’s good.

Two arms around me, heaven to ground me,
and a family that always calls me home,

Four wheels to get there, enough love to share
and a sweet sweet sweet song

at the end of the day, Lord I pray
I have a life that’s good

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11 comments

  1. As usual, you knocked me out with this master piece.
    It is really amazing the different kinds of stories that ONE song can lead us through in this beautiful serie!
    Music is a really big part of Nashville and it is also what makes it unique!

    Liked by 1 person

    • THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!! So glad you enjoyed it 🙂
      Think the way ‘A Life that’s Good’ was weaved into the story is simply brilliant! The same goes by the way to several other song such as ‘Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave’ and ‘Black Roses’.

      Like

  2. Reblogged this on Shira Gur and commented:

    Music and songs can do many things and one of them is tell stories. When it comes to country music, for example, every song is like a little story. So when a TV show like ‘Nashville’ that focus on country music wants to tell a sotry it’s no wonder they’ll use a song that can also tell this story, only through music. Over the course of three season ‘Nashville’ explored many ways to do it and with several songs, including that one I wrote about here – “A Life that’s Good” it was brought into perfection. It was so good and unique that I wanted to write about it a long time ago but simply didn’t have the time. Few days ago, I finally found the time and here it is!

    Like

  3. Honestly I really don’t think this show should be cancelled and this could be stopped if u go to the network FOX! !!!!! I really think it would be a great idea alot of ppl were talking crossover episodes with Empire something to think about! !!!! I really love Nashville and I really want to see all the characters rise above their trials! !!!!!

    Like

  4. I just re-watched episode2-21. When they, as a family, sing for the soldiers. By far, one of my favorite moments in the history of the show. Made me smile but want to cry at the same time. Such a sweet, beautiful song on its own, but this moment was a turning point for the family. Love it.

    Like

  5. My favorite song EVER!👍🏻 Please bring back Nashville!!! 🙏🏻 It’s my favorite show by far of ALL time! 💞My heart is broken over cancellation!💔😥 Love to ALL the ppl involved in it Cast, Writers, Producers, Directors & Songwriters!💖💜💖💜

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      • I am simply devastated. Actually words cannot express my sadness. I have watched on the edge of my couch countless nights, saying come on rayna and deacon. That is who kept viewers coming back for. There amazing love story. You felt it. You cryed, yelled, everything in between. No other show I felt so much for. Do I understand Connie wanting to leave, it happens, so so sad. But for me I could have accepted someone else playing her part. Plastic surgery after her accident. It would have taken time but I would have adjusted. But rayna gone like this!!!!! Never!!! I cannot watch it now, never the same. The show I believe will not carry on. Who am I? Just a sad sad viewer now. I will not continue any episodes fare well Nashville. It has been a great song!!!!!!

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