Parker McCollum is going through a little crisis of confidence. A stranger may find this hard to believe, but anyone close to them probably recognizes the pattern. He’s been there before, he says, and overcome his own doubts. That’s an understatement.
The tall blond boy from Conroe, Texas just landed a second consecutive No. 1 hit with “To Be Loved by You,” and he did so a week after winning the ACM New Male Artist Award year. Barring the kind of viral success that ignites — and usually burns — a career like a Fourth of July firecracker, he couldn’t do better.
Even personally, he gets it — he’ll be marrying Hallie Ray Light later this month — but still…
“I’m trying to write this new record and I’ve written a ton of it on the road on my own, then co-wrote a bit while I’m off the road at home,” says- he. “Man, it seems like every melody, every line that I come up with, I just think it’s garbage and walk away from it.”
You know what they say about a man’s trash, though.
What sets McCollum apart from other newcomers to the country is his level of experience, pre-Nashville. Last month, he sold out the Houston Rodeo because fans in Texas saw him work the road for years before trying out the business country.
A comparison could be made to Cody Johnson – a Texas performer who is in a similar place to McCollum, and someone he considers a friend who will pick up the phone when he calls. Texans like to stick together. Miranda Lambert is another artist he can contact if needed.
“It’s actually pretty funny,” McCollum recalled of a recent conversation between the two. “I wanted to take another bus. I wanted to take three buses and have my own… The last time I talked to her about it, she was like, ‘Keep your money as long as you can.'”
Ahead of his ACM Awards win, McCollum, 29, spoke to Evan Paul about Taste of country nights extensively about his music, his family, his heroes and his insecurities. Country fans are beginning to realize that Parker McCollum is one of the most candid artists you’ll ever meet. After the ACMs, he shared that he didn’t want to sing “Pretty Heart,” but officials told him he had to. Addressing disagreements is taboo in a format that makes artists afraid to publicly support a political candidate.
He also admitted to using drugs as a method of writing songs. Talk to Looks like Nashville, he admitted he thought a fix was as necessary as a guitar. Speaking to ToC, he detailed when and why he quit – a banter had become a hindrance.
“The best song of (Cowboy gold chain), I wrote it when I was sober at 10 a.m., sitting on my couch,” he says. “And you feel better about your day-to-day life when you make the right decisions. You’re much prouder of yourself.”
There was no program or intervention – in fact, no one was really aware of his decision and few knew he was struggling. “I kind of put my stuff together on my own and looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘Man, you’re a grown man, I think it’s about time you started acting like that. “”
The switch flipped somewhere in the middle of creation Cowboy gold chain, her critically acclaimed album from last July. You can see the joy on his face. There’s a certain ease as he jumps from topic to topic like being “Uncle Parker” and why he really enjoys hunting with his fiancée Hallie Ray Light. “
She wears a lot of smelly stuff, so as long as she’s sitting in a deer stall, she’s not the best companion,” he’ll say, smiling. “I’m out there bathing in air freshener…and her over there smelling like Victoria’s Secret.”
Old promotional photos usually found him sullen. Now, it’s not uncommon to find him hatless and smiling. He is even ready to show his future wife a little.
The creators will recognize the insecurities that arise when you remove a vice, so to say that McCollum’s dynamic face betrays his confession isn’t quite fair. The music will tell the story. Although it’s unclear if her next single will come from Cowboy gold chain or a new album, it is clear that he has surrounded himself with good people to support him and even help him overcome these mental obstacles. His parents, his future wife, his label and his professional team are all in the game. Then there are other artists like Johnson, Lambert and perhaps the greatest of them all: twice McCollum sat down with George Strait, or “Mr. George” as he calls him.
“He had heard a little about me or the label (both artists are on MCA) had told him things, and so he was kind of congratulatory for that,” McCollum shares. “If there’s anyone who knows the game and knows how it’s done, it’s him. The two times I met him he kind of said, ‘I heard you Killed it man, keep it up, keep your head down and hold on to it.'”
“That’s enough for me,” he adds as an exclamation point. This story might be a good story to revisit if McCollum starts to feel the creep of self-doubt again.
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