Gold Chain Cowboy (Apple Music Up Next Film Edition)
It’s hard to beat a sad country song, especially if you’re Parker McCollum. The emerging country singer-songwriter has a knack for writing twangy tearjerkers, like 2017’s heartbreak ballad “Hell of a Year.” On Gold Chain Cowboy, he still crafts tracks worthy of a pack of tissues (like the hit single “Pretty Heart”), but the Austin-based artist has a little fun, too, like on the sweet opener, “Wait Outside,” and the poppy, melodic “To Be Loved by You.” “There are some songs in there that, I think, are kind of rip-your-heart-out songs,” McCollum tells Apple Music. “And then, for the first time ever, I cut a couple songs that are not the sad, slow country songs that I’ve always done, which I really enjoyed.” This special film edition of the album includes McCollum’s Up Next documentary and the new track “Blanco County Rain.” Below, he walks Apple Music through several of Gold Chain Cowboy’s key tracks.
“Wait Outside” “I wrote that chorus probably four, five years ago. I was with my producer, Jon Randall, and my old manager, Randy Rogers—from the Randy Rogers Band—and we were sitting around, trying to write a song. I said, ‘Man, I got this chorus. It’s OK. It’s just kind of stuck with me for a long time.’ Without me saying anything, they already know what I’m thinking, and we sat around and just wrote that song in, like, 45 minutes.”
“To Be Loved by You” “That’s my favorite track on the record, I think. One day, we were on the bus, and I’d actually said it out loud to my merch guy, Lane. Hallie Ray, my now-fiancée, we were kind of going through it at the time. I said out loud, ‘Man, what does a man have to do to be loved by that girl?’ And he was like, ‘Man, you should write that down.’ And so, we were on our way to the bus to go on the road and got on there and got in the back with the guitar and literally just freestyled the first verse, and the chorus just popped. Exactly how it came out is exactly how it is on the record.”
“Drinkin’” “It was a real summer night when we were touring really, really hard in the summer of 2018. And I was still kind of on and off a little bit with a girl that I had been dating way back when, and I had essentially broken it off with her to commit to what I was doing and the dream I was chasing. I’d signed my record deal and was writing a bunch and was up real, real late one night doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, trying to write sad country songs. I just remember sitting there real late that night, thinking, ‘I got what I wanted—this lifestyle and being on the road and being on a tour bus and selling a bunch of tickets and being successful.’ Then that woman, she was with someone else, and I was up real late one night and trying to write a song about it, and ‘Drinkin’’ came out.”
“Rest of My Life” “That was right at the beginning of COVID, when there was really a shutdown time and nobody was going anywhere. I was doing a bunch of things I shouldn’t have been doing and staying up all night and trying to get messed up and write sad country songs—things I’d done so many times. I’d been humming this melody in my head all night, and I went to sleep and woke up the next morning and was sitting around the house. I think I recorded the melody on my phone and put it on the Bluetooth speaker, and I was just listening to the melody while I was in the shower, and just right there, I was like, ‘That’s it.’ And I got out of the shower, sat down, and wrote the song in, like, 10 to 15 minutes, put the harmonica part to it, got back in the shower, and went about my day.”
“Pretty Heart” “That song literally changed my life. Number one, gold, platinum—all good things. I’d had the idea for that song since 2014, and it was one of my first cowrites ever in Nashville. I was writing with Randy Montana, who’s a good buddy of mine now, and didn’t really have any ideas that I was stoked on. As honest and genuine as we could tell the story, we laid it down on paper, and I remember not liking it. And then we went and cut it in the studio, and when we were recording it, I remember thinking, ‘This song’s a lot better than I gave it credit for.’ The label really was who pushed me to cut it. I don’t think I would’ve cut it had they not wanted to hear a demo of it. I think the demo is the one that is the actual track that’s out. Anytime you sign a record deal on your first song out of the gate and it goes number one, that’s a great thing.”