Country music artist Parker McCollum, also known as the “Gold Chain Cowboy,” says he tries to be “incredibly honest and really real” in his songwriting. In doing so, he’s also shared the truth about his previous drug use and his recent commitment to sobriety.
“I really, really care about songwriting,” McCollum told Sounds Like Nashville. “I always want people to know when they listen to my music; whether they like it or not, they can’t say it’s fake. It’s all incredibly honest and really real and comes from a super real place. They come from the right place where all the best songs come from.”
The Texas native admits he felt the need to turn to drugs when writers block got the best of him, as many of his country music heroes did to write their music.
“For a long time, I thought I had to do those things, too, to get those songs out,” he admits. “Which, I got a lot of good songs out of it.”
His debut album, Gold Chain Cowboy, was released in July and saw great success as it earned the highest first-week debut album of 2021. This 10-track collection that featured his first single and No. 1 hit “Pretty Heart,” was also the first album he released under his label Universal Music Group Nashville, which meant he wanted it to be good.
But this collection of songs did not come together easy. In fact, McCollum found himself putting so much pressure on his songwriting that he decided to return to his old, unhealthy habits. When that didn’t work, he woke up one day “sober as a bird,” and had the realization that he didn’t need the illicit substances to write great music. That morning, he wrote the title track in only seven minutes and then felt inspired to write “Rest of My Life,” sharing how this experience changed his life for the better.
“That was kind of my wake-up call,” McCollum says. “It’s probably the second time ever that I’ve written something and gone, ‘Man, that is really good.’ Most of the time, I think everything sucks. I don’t know that I would call it a lifesaving moment, but it was really good for me to write something like that not under the influence of anything.”
“There’s a picture frame hanging a little to the side | Some drugs on the counter in the kitchen by the wine | And I’m shaking like winter, but I just can’t eat,” McCollum sings in the opening line of the truthful ballad.
Another source of light in his life, he shared is his fiancée Hallie Ray Light, who has stuck by his side and helped him stay on track with his healthy lifestyle change. This was the support he needed to make better choices and realize he can be creative without the aid of drugs.
“It’s much easier to make good decisions and live the right way when I have her in mind,” he explained. “Ever since we got together, my career has taken off tenfold. It’s because I’m focused, healthy and working my butt off. All those things are paying off.”
The up-and-coming artist, who’s more committed now than ever before to live a clean lifestyle, has been nominated for ACM New Male Artist of the Year at this year’s Academy Of Country Music Awards.
He’s also at the start of his Gold Chain Cowboy tour, with already sold-out dates, that will wrap up this summer.