I don’t suppose there’s ever been a musician who hasn’t been told that their dream is impossible. If no one’s told you that yet, you probably haven’t been playing long. If I could give you just one piece of advice, it would be this: Don’t Turn Around.

Don’t Turn Around

When I first showed up in Nashville in the mid-60’s, I was warned that you could kick the trees and great guitar players would fall out of them. I was also told to stop for gas just before entering town. If I could outplay the guy pumping my gas, then I could go on into town. If not, I should just turn around and go home.

These are the types of stories that I sit back and laugh about now. Back then, though, I wasn’t laughing. Like any other young musician trying to make a way, and maybe a bit like you, I was scared. I was also determined. I didn’t turn around.

Common Ground

As musicians, we share common ground. We’ve all picked up a first instrument, (mine was the clarinet, if you were wondering), worked hard, dreamed, and experienced those first performance jitters. And, yes, we’ve all fallen down a time or two. But to succeed in the music industry, you can’t let yourself quit. Don’t turn around. Keep on moving forward.

To be clear, I’m not guaranteeing that if you start out and refuse to quit, your every musical dream will come true. I can’t guarantee that. Even in my own success story, there was quite a bit of “right place, right time” playing into the equation. What I can guarantee is that if you’re the type who can hang in there, work hard, and refuse to turn around, you may be surprised where your road will take you.

I certainly was. My Gretsch Country Gentleman and I toured the world. We played in huge concert halls. We played with some of the best names in music. And then, 50 years after I first stepped foot in Nashville, I stood in front of a display at The Country Music Hall of Fame, featuring me and my famous guitar. I am so glad I never turned around.

Ron Cornelius and Leonard Cohen

Ron Cornelius backing Leonard Cohen, from cohencentric.com

Say It Again: Don’t Turn Around

People fail for many reasons but all who succeed share a trait: they refused to quit.

  • “Impossible!” they were told but they refused to quit.
  • Their dreams were laughed at but they refused to quit.
  • The work was hard but they refused to quit.
  • They were met with opposition but they refused to quit.

If you’re out there, dreaming of moving forward, then make the same decision those who have succeeded before you have made: refuse to quit.

Don’t turn around.

I know my story has encouraged countless musicians and I’d love to share it with you. The only place to find an autographed copy of my book, The Guitar Behind Dylan and Cohen, is here. I hope you pick up a copy today and I hope you continue moving forward. Don’t turn around.