Parker McCollum co-wrote “Young Man’s Blues” alongside his songwriting buddy Randy Montana. He feels every word to every lyric to every verse. And yes, the song serves as one of the many impressive cuts on the Texas native’s new EP Hollywood Gold.
There’s just one problem.
“I just can’t listen to it right now,” admits the singer/songwriter during a revealing interview with American Songwriter about the project named after the Australian race horse his grandfather once owned. “The song just hits a little too close. It’s about growing up. And while it’s hard to admit, that whole idea of ‘growing up’ has been on my mind.”
Indeed, at the age of 28, McCollum finds himself experiencing that precarious piece of life where he is balancing between the crazy, ‘I never want to grow up’ kid and the responsible “I’m totally grown up’ adult, all while a pandemic rages on.
“Everyone has to go through it sometime, whether you are in your twenties or in your sixties” chuckles the self proclaimed over thinker who co-wrote five of the six authentic tracks on Hollywood Gold, which serves as his first offering for MCA Nashville “But the earlier you can say to yourself, ‘look what I have to gain by growing up and getting my shit together,’ the better. It’s a constant mental seesaw between ‘I’m fine right here’ and ‘it’s time to grow up.”
And while McCollum feels like this on this particular day about track one of his new EP, he may change his mind and listen to the damn song tomorrow.
That’s just the kind of guy he is.
He’s an optimist but can play the devil’s advocate. He’s sensitive but he can be awfully strong. He’s a lover and he’s a fighter and he loves living the highs and lows of life. And its all of these sides that find its way onto every revealing song on his new EP, a musical pendulum that essentially swings back and forth between the intricacies of McCollum’s life.
“Whether people like the EP or not is one thing,” says McCollum, whose streaming stats recently crossed over 350M total career domestic streams. “But the thing that I care most about is if people can walk away saying, ‘I believe him’ and ‘I buy that’ and ‘I don’t think he’s faking.’ That’s all I’m worried about.”
But thou hath no fear Mr. McCollum. Authenticity is certainly driving the current love for his current Top 10 single “Pretty Heart,” which, and this might not surprise you, McCollum wasn’t sure if he was crazy about at first.
“I had that melody and that line ‘what does that say about me, I could do you like I did’ for awhile, and came in with that line into the writing session,” says McCollum about the song he also co-wrote alongside Montana two years ago. “I had never had a co-write before and I was really going through in my personal life what the song talks about and I asked if he wanted to chase that? It came together quickly, but when we wrote it and I walked out that day, I really thought we had missed the mark. I was like, ‘better luck next time.’”
But then, McCollum played it for his then girlfriend, who enthusiastically told him it was a hit.
And then, she cried.
And then, they hugged.
And then, McCollum started coming around.
“The current girlfriend isn’t very fond of that story,” laughs McCollum, who began building a following in 2015 with his album The Limestone Kid. “But yeah, that song was far from a no-brainer, which is crazy now that I see what the song is doing. I’ve been wrong before and heck knows I will be wrong again.”
Another song that hits at the core of the guy who admits he’s changing everyday is the Chris Stapleton/Al Anderson-penned “Like a Cowboy,” which served as McCollum’s first outside cut with Universal.
“It so reminded me of my granddad’s mentality and how he raised us working with him as kids in the summertime,” remembers McCollum, who admits that he hasn’t had ‘much juice to write’ as of late. “And that was song was so cool also because I just got to go into the studio and not have to second guess or question it. I knew it was good as far as the songwriting goes. It was such an enjoyable experience to just go in and sing it.”
The rest of the Jon Randall Stewart produced-EP includes “Love You Like That,” a song whose rather desperate lyrics perfectly match with the desperation in McCollum’s voice. “Hold Me Back” is a sexy serenade that conjures up vintage Gary Allan vibes. And as the sole writer of “Hallie Ray Light,” McCollum’s songwriting talents are raw and bona fide…and impressive.
In short, it’s an entire EP full of songs worthy of radio play.
“I have a constant back and forth with myself these days,” he admits nevertheless. “Am I doing well? Am I a good leader? Is everyone happy? Is everyone healthy? Am I a good songwriter? How do I grow up? I’m constantly trying to figure everything out.”
“I think I’m overthinking again.”
You got that right.