Norwood Pratt has just finished his enlistment in the United States Marine Corps and is on his way home from Vietnam. A musician, his one great ambition is to appear on the radio program Louisiana Hayride.

Along the way, Norwood meets a variety of characters, including Grady Fling, a flim-flam man; Yvonne Phillips, a hooker; Marie, a jaded would-be starlet; and his Marine buddy Joe William Reese.

However, the most important person that he meets is Rita Lee Chipman, the “right kind of girl,” who is unfortunately an unwed soon-to-be mother at a time when this was uncommon and somewhat shameful. She supports him and is there when Norwood finally reaches the KWKH studio as his dream comes true.