A young singer and his sister/manager travel to Nashville in search of stardom. As they journey from one grimy hotel to another, it becomes increasingly obvious that only one of them has what it takes to become a star.
Travis Child (Quaid) is a country singer who had one hit song and then faded from the scene. His ambitious younger sister, Amanda (McNichol), is determined to get them to Nashville where Travis can once again become a star. Her plans are derailed by Travis’s lack of ambition and easy distraction by women and booze. Amanda meets a state trooper named Conrad who shows concern for her.
The two are separated in one town and by the time they find each other in the next one, Travis has been arrested for public drunkenness. To pay the fine he takes a job bartending at a roadside tavern called Andy’s, where he meets and falls for a young lady named Melody with a very jealous ex-boyfriend—who happens to be the deputy sheriff named Seth James. Seth wounds Travis in an ambush. Travis hides in the floorboards of his truck and pretends to be dead. When Seth yanks open Travis’s truck door to put another round in him, Travis kills him with a gun he was hiding. Travis, in bad shape, takes Seth’s car and ends up driving it off the road, dying. Amanda buries Travis and hugs Melody good bye. She heads down the road with her dog. Conrad, in his police car tries to convince Amanda not to leave but she says she’s going. Conrad goes to his cruiser, strips to his underwear and convinces Amanda that they’ll go together.