Hit Country Artist Parker McCollum Talks About His #1 Hit “To Be Loved By You,” His Album Gold Chain Cowboy, And His Latest Songs

Parker McCollum
Parker McCollum
(photo credit: Tyler Conrad)

In just the past two years, Parker McCollum has become a rising country star. He’s been a mainstay on the country & pop charts, with two number one country hits. His current single “To Be Loved By You” has been on the charts for several months, and his breakthrough hit “Pretty Heart” is now certified platinum. Last July (2021), he released his excellent debut album Gold Chain Cowboy (on MCA Nashville Records)

Impressively, McCollum was recently named New Male Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards, and he performed “Pretty Heart’ on the show. He has also been named Music Row’s Breakout Artist of the Year and an Artist to Watch by Rolling Stone, Billboard, CMT and SiriusXM.

McCollum’s album Gold Chain Cowboy is a collection of 10 songs which demonstrate his strong, expressive lead vocals and distinctive songwriting. Notably, he co-wrote or wrote all the songs. He collaborated on “To Be Loved By You” with top songwriter Rhett Akins, and he also wrote songs with Miranda Lambert, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, his producer Jon Randall, and hit songwriters Randy Rogers, Corey Crowder and Lee Thomas Miller.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Parker McCollum, about the making of his Gold Chain Cowboy album and writing his hit, “To Be Loved By You.”

Born and raised in Conroe, Texas (near Houston), McCollum is now based in Austin. Prior to his major label success, he was a regional favorite artist in Texas, and he released two independent albums: The Limestone Kid (in 2015) and Probably Wrong (2017). He was encouraged by Randy Rogers to further pursue his music career in Nashville, which led to him signing a publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music and a label deal with MCA Nashville Records.

Besides his career as a recording artist, McCollum has become a popular concert performer. As a headliner, he has sold out many venues across the country including Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, and he was proud to make his RODEOHOUSTON debut performing for a crowd of 73,000. In addition, this summer he will be opening act for country star Thomas Rhett’s major tour.

Here’s the video of Parker McCollum’s hit, “To Be Loved By You.”

Parker McCollum Interview

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Parker McCollum. He discusses his hit “To Be Loved By You” and his album, Gold Chain Cowboy. He also talks about his songwriting for the album.

DK: Congratulations on being named New Male Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards, and you performed on their show. How does it feel to win this honor?

Parker McCollum: I love it. You know, you watch those shows as a little kid, and you think about being onstage on television and playing them. All of a sudden, fast-forward 20 years and you’re on the show. I was in the elevator walking in to perform, and I was thinking, “Man, I’m about to be on the ACMs and it’s a feeling I can’t find words to describe. And there aren’t a lot of us Texas guys on those television awards shows, so to be one to go on there and not only perform, but take home the award, is a dream come true.

DK: Last July, you released your album, Gold Chain Cowboy. Can you talk about the making of this album?

McCollum: With Gold Chain Cowboy, it was such an unconventional process to recording the record. With Covid going on, we were jumping from studio to studio. It was a very unconventional process, not like my first two records. It was challenging, because we had to get creative in ways that you didn’t even know you could. I remember writing that record…it was different as well. When it was time to go in the studio and cut the record, and doing the final session of the record, I didn’t really love all the songs, which is typical for me. Most of the time I think everything is really bad…that none of it should go on the record. But the fact that it came together as well as it did, and had the success that it’s had, is mind-blowing to me, because I remember being so worried that we threw it together a little bit. It was the state that the world was in and all the uncertainty that goes along with that. So a lot of it was a blur. It seemed like all of a sudden we were sitting there and we had the record. Then we put it out and I was blown away by how well it did.

DK: Congratulations on your recent #1 hit, “To Be Loved By You.” How did you write this song with Rhett Akins?

Here’s the video of Parker McCollum performing his hit, “Pretty
Heart,” on the ACM Awards show.

McCollum: With me and Rhett, I had written the first verse and chorus to the song, and I had a write with Rhett. I said to him, “Man, I need to finish this. Do you want to help?” He certainly did, and we wrote that second verse, and he was like, “Man, that’s a hit. I wouldn’t touch that.” And it was funny—when the song went to radio last year, about three months later Rhett called me and goes, “Hey man, did we write a song together called ‘To Be Loved By You’?” And I said “Yes.” He said, “Man, I heard it’s gonna be your next single.” And I said, “Hey, it’s been on the radio for three months, Rhett” (laughs). He’s a legend…he’s one of the best to ever do it in that town, To get the opportunity to sit in a room with him and write something, and to hang out and have our first song be a number one song, there’s not much better you can do.

DK: Your album starts with the song “Wait Outside,” which has a unique lyric about you waiting outside of heaven, to be with the love of your life for eternity. What inspired you to write this song?

McCollum: I had written that specific line a long time ago. I wrote the chorus back then, and I thought it was kind of clever. But I could never figure out what to do with it. Then one day I was with my producer Jon Randall, and we ended up finishing it. I remember talking about having the perfect girl, and the writing the typical story of, “You’re not the perfect guy. You’re quite the opposite.” And you know, she’s gonna get into heaven and you’re not going to. So if you’re gonna love her forever, you’re going to have to stand on the outside to do it. And it seemed like a clever way to talk about loving somebody. I’m glad that the song made the record because I think its one of the better songs on the album.

DK: The next song on the album is called “Dallas,” and I know you’re from Texas. Can you tell me the story behind writing this song?

McCollum: “Dallas” kind of came out of nowhere. One night I was in a rehearsal, and I’d been writing a lot of slow, sad country songs, and we had taken a break at rehearsal. I looked at my keys player and joked, “I’ll write a hit right now.” And he said, “Man, not another slow one” (laughs). Then I looked right at him, and I just freestyled and spit out the chorus of “Dallas.” He was like, “Damn, I didn’t know it was gonna be that good.” So I hung on to it for a while, but I couldn’t finish it. Later on, I was in the studio and I texted my buddy Randy Rogers and said, “Man, could you write a second verse to this?” He happened to be with our buddy Wade Bowen, and they wrote that second verse and a bridge, and sent it back to me. About 10 minutes later, I cut it in the studio and we were excited that it made the record.

Here’s the lyric video of Parker McCollum’s song, “Rest Of
My Life.”

DK: On “Dallas,” you brought in Danielle Bradbery to sing on the song. How did you decide to feature Danielle on this song?

McCollum: Danielle had thrown me a bone when I first started coming to Nashville. We did a duet on the song, “Shallow.” It really helped me when nobody knew me in town and it gave me a place to start. So when I was cutting my first record on a major label, it was only right that I paid her back for that opportunity and have her on a song. And then she just killed it. She’s one of my favorite singers.

DK: Besides the songs we’ve discussed, what are your favorite songs on your album?

McCollum: The song I truly love the most is “Rest Of My Life.” I wrote it one morning, and it’s one of the few times I’ve written something that I said, “I know that’s good.’ I didn’t have to question it. So that’s a good feeling that I don’t come by very often, and it’s my only solo write on the record.

DK: I read that you’re currently on tour headlining shows, and this summer you’ll be going on tour with Thomas Rhett. Can you talk about your live shows?

McCollum: The tour’s been going great, and the shows have been selling out. And the TR (Thomas Rhett) tour this year is such an incredible opportunity for him to give me, and allow me to do my thing in front of his fans every night. I’m really looking forward to that.

Here’s the link to Parker McCollum’s site: https://www.parkermccollum.com/

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima