Newcomer Parker McCollum has a lot on his plate recently. Earlier this year, the Texas-born rising star notched his first Top 10 single with “Pretty Heart,” and then dropped the new EP, Hollywood Gold, in October. But just like everybody else, COVID-19 has forced a slow down.
The singer-songwriter built his career on the highways and byways of his home state, a scene where hard touring is considered a badge of honor and yearly shows can easily end up in the triple digits. But with live concerts shut down and no touring to do, what’s a live-performance junkie to do?
Well, in between promoting Hollywood Gold and some quality time outdoors, McCollum says he’s been getting back to the basics of his musical passion — listening to tunes.
“I’ve been obsessed with couple of songs,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville, speaking by phone as part of an in-depth discussion on his EP. “With the changing of the seasons, whenever that happens I always fall into songwriting mode — especially going into fall and winter when your mind starts to slow down a little bit. … Two songs I’ve really had on repeat lately are ‘Starting Over,’ Chris Stapleton’s new song, and ‘Still Out There Running’ by Nathanial Rateliff.”
It’s interesting that both of McCollum’s picks speak to the strangeness of 2020 — and both present hope and positivity about what the future will bring. But they’re also both coming from a tough emotional spot.
Stapleton’s “Starting Over,” for example, is the first single and title track from his upcoming third album (out now). It’s steeped in the comforting sound of traditional country, led by acoustic guitar and Stapleton’s gravelly vocal, and it’s theme is all about deciding to start living life on your own terms. But that’s a headspace you don’t usually arrive at until something goes wrong.
Likewise, Rateliff’s 2018 standout features a similar emotional center. A laid-back, lo-fi rock ballad with a cinematic quality to it, the throwback jam features echo-y electric guitars and a dreamy soundtrack vibe, all about not caring if the world crumbles around you — as long as you’ve got love.
“They’re just sitting with me right now in a way that really fits the time of year,” McCollum says of his pandemic playlist. “That’s big for me and I really feel those things strongly, so those songs help put a magnifying glass on it.”
Parker McCollum’s breakout single “Pretty Heart” has now been certified Gold, and he’s followed up with the release of “Like a Cowboy” and “Young Man’s Blues” from his Hollywood Gold EP.