The writing on the wall just wasn’t enough
You were falling in love and I was falling apart…
Parker McCollum wants it both ways. Restless soul who can slam dunk a major venue. Texas spirit who can exist on mainstream country radio. Songwriter with a sense of turpentine and truth singing for people whose life isn’t quite the truckbed/field party revel much of country music would have you believe.
Coming up in Texas, selling out Stubbs, Billy Bobs and Nutty Browns, the brash young man with a taste for Rodney Crowell, Todd Snider and James McMurtry had just enough Houston gangster rap in the water to develop a swagger that’s miles from the good ole boy patina so many of his peers embody. But don’t let that bravado fool you, his passion for songwriting runs deep.
“I want to have Luke Bryan success, singing Chris Knight-caliber songs,” he declares. “To have longevity, you can’t sacrifice integrity to get on the radio. People know the difference, look at Willie, look at Strait. I knew I could do Texas and never leave, or come to Nashville and do the pop-country thing. My goal is to ride the middle.”
He exhales as he says this, takes in the landscape. He’s already notched a platinum-certified #1 with the banged-up declaration of love and betrayal “Pretty Heart.” He’s gone against the grain enlisting songwriter/musician/vocalist/producer Jon Randall; he’s known for his work as part of Emmylou Harris’ Grammy-winning Nash Ramblers, producer of Dierks Bentley’s Up To The Ridge and co-writer of the 2005 CMA Song of the Year “Whiskey Lullabye” and 2018 ACM Song of the Year “The Tin Man.”
“I was super burned out from co-writes,” he says of their initial meeting. “He saw it, took one look, and said, ‘Hey, let’s hang out.’ He’s not just done it all, he’s won awards for it… When the label didn’t want him to be my producer, I thought he was a perfect fit. They let us go in and cut some demos; ‘Pretty Heart’ was one of those.”
I been drinking like a drunkard in these Austin neon lights
Burning smokes and wondering if there’s anything I’ve done right…
Gold Chain Cowboy expands on that outcast drifter ethos with a collection of songs that are riddled with fuck-ups, disappointments, lost nights, real life snarls and the hunger that drives people on. Reckless, willing to reckon with the wreckage and shattered pieces of what was, McCollum’s major label debut isn’t a dead-end road, but more a cul-de-sac that too many people go ‘round and ‘round on.
“I was pretty lonely,” he offers, certifying his songs’ angst. “I was pretty young when I started selling out these places, you know? I was a rock star. But I wasn’t a rock star when I woke up, that was last night.
“There was no shortage of women. There were plenty around, random girls, but people you don’t care about – and they don’t care about you. It was a lot of cocaine and a lot of whiskey, smoking cigarettes to fill up the space. But I started thinking, ‘What am I gonna do when I get a little further along?’”
Figure McCollum, who admits a taste for flashy things, was raised a car dealer’s son. His mother’s family – “they’re a little rougher, they come from the land” – were dealing with cattle, ranching, the rodeo world. In many ways a classic Texas upbringing, even his music obsession started with his brother giving him The Traveling Wilburys, Volume 1 for his 11th birthday.
Working his Grandfather’s ranch with his older brother and a couple cousins one summer, he heard Ryan Bingham’s “Southside of Heaven” for the first time. It changed everything. “It was so simple – and stayed so simple. My sophomore and junior years, he put out two of the best records I’ve ever heard. It showed me what standards are, and that it could be done.”
Still, unhindered and young – wild living ensued. But that lust for life never got in the way of him writing songs, seeking to make the music better. Around Texas, he turned into a veritable Justin Bieber scream-inducing proposition. He didn’t care.
“I look back and think, ‘How did I go onstage like that?’” he marvels. “It makes me sick to think about it. I can’t believe I lived like that; but I liked all those things way too much. I didn’t want anything to step on my songwriting. It pays to be as real as it gets, so all that just goes into the bank for writing, I guess.”
There’s a picture frame hanging a little to the side
Some drugs on the counter in the kitchen by the wine
And I’m shaking like winter, but I just can’t eat
Four studios. Thirty musicians. Countless songs. Lots of ruminating. “I finally had my first big record deal, and the country closed down. I had to think about how did I want this record to go, trying to figure out who I am and where I am again. Just as I thought I’d done it, I had another chance to think about it.”
From the George Strait pluck of “Never Loved You At All” to the plaintive lonesome “Dallas,” the surging dumped by phone “Why Indiana” to the guitars forward tumbling pledge of always “Wait Outside,” McCollum changes gaits and gears through working class heartbreak and country. Gold Chain Cowboy offers a different take on being a good ole boy: dignity instead of pain, aching instead of numb.
It hurts a lot more than you know
It hurts a lot more than I show…
“Slow, sad country country love songs,” says McCollum, defining his sweet spot, “…about things going terribly wrong.
“I’m a hopeless romantic. Take all those heartbreak moments, they come from real places. Not always mine, but I’ve witnessed every one. Boil’em down, put’em in a song. That’s my deal.”
Straddling Texas and Nashville, not only has McCollum written on his own – the staggering Green Day-evoking “Rest of My Life” – he’s shared songwriting credits with Randall, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers, Randy Montana, Rhett Atkins, Miranda Lambert and Songwriters Hall of Famer Tony Lane. Scraping the truth from sun-baked bones isn’t for the faint of heart, so McCollum proceeded with caution.
“With ‘Heart Like Mine,’ I’d had that first verse for four years. I’d been saving it, because I always knew it was special. I’d almost pulled it out a couple times in co-writes that weren’t working. But I knew not to.
“When I sat down with Tony, I knew he was the one. I told him those lines, and he went, ‘That’s fucking bad ass.’ We finished it in an hour… It was unbelievable. He had that line, ‘I’m good at getting lost, but I’m bad at getting found…’ He so got it.”
It’s easier to miss ya than it is to let you down
I knew from the start, I was from the wrong side of town
You told me I was different, we were two of a kind
Cause you got the only heart like mine…
Fluid, Gold Chain Cowboy moves effortlessly from the .38 Special surge and gaited drums of “Falling Apart” to the Tim McGraw-esque questioning on the gleaming “To Be Loved By You” into the loping steel guitar-soaked tavern country lament “Drinkin’” or the old school stroll “Heart Like Mine.” For the rush of energy, the raw voice, room left between the parts to let the loss and yearning permeate the tracks, Randall created a soundscape that echoes with the emotions most people would rather not look at.
“If you can make people feel sorry for you in the songs, or not sorry but feel that pain, it’s gold,” he confesses. “Sometimes it’s not me, but I know where it comes from, and I mean it. I mean it a lot.”
For McCollum, who cites “old school McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Gary Allen” as artists who own an emotional vista and a place on country radio, this project moves him closer to his larger dreams. “I love songs too much, though I don’t think you can love songs too much. Just you have to really make all of this about the songs. Everything is a melody or a hook to me, and then it’s how do you finish what there is in a way you can be proud of?
“George Strait was ‘the Man’ in my house, the artist of my childhood. No higher, no better! His voice, the way he understands and sings a song. He isn’t a writer, but ‘Baby’s Gotten Good At Good-Bye’? ‘Amarillo by Morning’ was the first song I remember turning up in my Grandpa’s truck. When music does that to you, you’re gonna hold songs in pretty high regard.
“When I’m writing, I tell people, ‘Put your map away… Put your handbook down. Close your eyes. Tell me what do you see?’ That’s where the best songs come from, the ones that are pure and inspired. I’ve lived every one of these songs… on every album… so I can’t lose ‘that guy.’ If I never did anything else, I’d have plenty to write about – and I don’t think that’s gonna happen.
Hell, maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong
Finding out why shouldn’t take this long
Easier said than done I guess
I’m a little bit harder to love than the rest
Eric Church is taking fans behind-the-scenes of his music video for “Heart On Fire” and how they created the whirlwind journey down memory lane by going back through many of his previous music videos, including “How ‘Bout You,” “Smoke a Little Smoke,” “Homeboy,” ‘Drink in My Hand,” “Springsteen,” “and “Record Year,” among others.
Reid Long directed the video which included a lot of video special effects, similar to Deepfake, a type of technology used to manipulate images. The crew shot Eric singing each portion of the song and matched the lens, camera position and angle of Eric’s head with the original content, plus doing some digitally de-aging and adding more or less facial hair depending on the era of the older video. In other words–a lot of technology, time and energy was involved in the making of the “Heart On Fire” video.
Eric, the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, is on the road with his Gather Again Tour, which is making stops in Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle, Washington this weekend.
Seven-time GRAMMY® Award winner and three-time ACM Entertainer of the Year Carrie Underwood has added two new career milestones with the Recording Industry Association of America® (RIAA) 9x Platinum certification of her 2005 debut album, Some Hearts, and the 7x Platinum certification of her global smash hit single from that album, “Before He Cheats.”
The superstar was surprised with plaques to commemorate the certifications by Jackie Jones, RIAA Vice President, Artist & Industry Relations at her October 23 performance at the Grand Ole Opry.
Underwood has sold more than 66 million records worldwide, recorded 28 #1 singles (14 of which she co-wrote), and has seven albums that are certified Platinum or Multi-Platinum by the RIAA. In just over 15 years, she has already skyrocketed to the top of Gold and Platinum history with over 70 million certifications. Additionally:
- Underwood continues her reign as the number one certified Country female artist in music history for digital singles.
- Some Hearts, which was released by Arista Nashville in 2005 and produced by Mark Bright and Dan Huff, is the 6th, and most recent, Country album to achieve 9x Platinum. Underwood now joins Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift as the only three Country artists to release and certify an album that high in the past 16 years.
- “Before He Cheats,” written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, is the 11th, and most recent, Country song to achieve 7x Platinum.
Most recently, five singles from Cry Pretty have been certified by the RIAA, including the Platinum-certified singles “The Champion featuring Ludacris” and “Southbound” and the Gold-certified “Cry Pretty,” “Love Wins,” and “Drinking Alone.” All nine of her consecutive album releases (two of which she co-produced) from the beginning of her career debuted #1 on the Billboard Country Chart, making her the only artist to accomplish that feat.
Underwood’s ninth album, My Savior, was released in March, featuring the beloved gospel hymns she grew up singing in church, which she co-produced with a multi-platinum selling, four-time GRAMMY® Award-winning record producer and songwriter David Garcia. Her Christmas album, My Gift (Special Edition), was released September 24, featuring three additional tracks, and debuted at #1 on Billboard’s first Top Holiday Albums chart of this holiday season. HBO Max is currently streaming “My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood,” which premiered in December 2020, a musical holiday special, with Carrie performing songs from My Gift with a full orchestra and choir, becoming an instant holiday classic. Her hit duet with Jason Aldean, “If I Didn’t Love You,” is currently #1 at Country Radio and she recently collaborated for the first time with Dan + Shay on “Only Us” from the Dear Evan Hansen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).
About Carrie Underwood:
Carrie Underwood is a true multi-format, multi-media superstar, spanning achievements in music, television, film, and as a New York Times bestselling author and successful entrepreneur. She has sold more than 66 million records worldwide, recorded 28 #1 singles (14 of which she co-wrote), and has seven albums that are certified Platinum or Multi-Platinum by the RIAA, all while continuing to sell out arena tours across North America and the UK. All nine of her consecutive album releases (two of which she co-produced) from the beginning of her career debuted #1 on the Billboard Country Chart, making her the only artist to accomplish that feat. She has won over 100 major awards including 7 GRAMMY® Awards, 15 ACM Awards including three for Entertainer of the Year (the first female in history to win twice and the only female ever to win three times), 23 CMT Music Awards (holding the record for the most award wins ever for the show), 7 CMA Awards, and 15 American Music Awards. She has also built a successful business portfolio inspired by her passion for health and wellness, including her fitness and lifestyle brand, CALIA by Carrie Underwood, bestselling book, FIND YOUR PATH, her fit52 app, and a partnership with BODYARMOR Sports Drink. She recently announced her first-ever residency, REFLECTION: The Las Vegas Residency, at The Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas, which will begin December 1.
Last week it was announced Parker McCollum is the latest addition to Apple’s Up Next program, their monthly artist initiative geared towards identifying, showcasing and elevating rising talent. The Up Next film has Parker talking about his start, his No. 1 song “Pretty Heart” and his track to success. Check it out below.
Parker began building a following in his native Texas with 2015’s The Limestone Kid. The album track “Meet You in The Middle” became a hit on Texas’ regional radio chart, but it was the album’s widely-acclaimed follow-up, Probably Wrong, that helped Parker find national success. Bridging the gap between Texas’ homegrown music scene and Nashville’s country-industry headquarters, Parker’s songwriting earned him a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Nashville in May 2018 and a recording deal with Universal Music Group Nashville in June 2019. In 2020, Parker released Hollywood Gold, the highest-selling debut country EP of 2020, which includes debut No.1 hit single “Pretty Heart,” and was certified Platinum, as well as playlisted across Apple Music top tier playlists, Today’s Country, and Don’t Mess With Texas. Parker followed with his 2021 major label debut, Gold Chain Cowboy, which was the top Country album in 17 countries on Apple Music, including the US, since its release. Earlier this summer, Parker played his first sold-out show at the Dallas, TX Dos Equis Pavilion to a crowd of 20K fans and this fall he played the famed Woodlands (The Cynthia Wood Mitchell Pavilion) in Woodlands, TX, to a sold out crowd which broke attendance records for the venue.
“All I ever wanted was a real shot in country music. To be an Apple Music Up Next artist is an incredible honor and it means so much to me to have a platform like Apple believe in me,” says Parker McCollum. “I always try to keep my head down and earn every little thing so to have this spotlight for a little while is nice. I do not take it for granted. Now back to work. Mad love.”
Additional Up Next campaign moments include a Jimmy Kimmel Live! performance on November 23rd, and a sit down interview with Apple Music Country’s Kelleigh Bannen, where he discusses his Gold Chain Cowboy album, being inspired by Pat Green, playing the Ryman, and the one song that defines him.
In the meantime, he’s making his way up the country charts with “To Be Loved By You” from his Gold Chain Cowboy album.