Buck Bonham (Willie Nelson) is a popular country-and-western singer who enjoys being on the road with his band. At home in Texas on the ranch await Viv (Dyan Cannon), his attractive wife of fifteen years, and his ten-year-old son Jamie (Joey Floyd). During a large Bonham family reunion, Buck and Viv get on stage and sing a thrilling and sexually dynamic version of Kris Kristofferson's "Loving Her Was Easier." We learn that they used to work together years ago but now she refuses to go on the road. When Buck's guitarist (Slim Pickens) decides to retire, Viv suggests that his daughter Lily (Amy Irving) stand in for him until a replacement is found. He succumbs to her charms when she recalls "I've gone to bed with a song of yours since I was nine years old…It must be strange bein' everybody's here." Their affair is played out before the band and then in front of crowds. Viv gets wind of what's happening and makes a dramatic break with Buck — one that fits the country-and-western style of lovelost.

Honeysuckle Rose is built upon the excellent music of Willie Nelson; he's in his prime as a performer. His acting, following the pattern set in The Electric Horseman, is laid back and appealing. Dyan Cannon shines in her finest role to date — one which gives her ample room to stretch both her singing and her considerable dramatic talents. The bittersweet theme of adultery is handled tastefully by director Schatzberg (who dealt with the same motif in The Seduction of Joe Tynan). In the end, Buck returns to Viv realizing that the riches of intimacy hard won with his wife is too steep a price to pay for the pleasures of his affair.