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Parker McCollum wants it all and who can blame him?
The soft-spoken singer-songwriter dreams of headlining sold-out amphitheaters with fans singing along to his critically acclaimed songs. He’s coming Saturday (7/17) to the McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids.
“If you can make Luke Bryan money and sing Chris Knight caliber songs, well, then you got something,” the Nashville-based McCollum, 29, said by phone from Austin, Texas.
It's not a pipe dream for the gifted songsmith who crafts vivid, deep and hook-laden songs. They’re featured on his latest album, "Gold Chain Cowboy," which drops July 30.
"Falling Apart" is an anthemic love song, which was co-written with platinum-plus recording artist Miranda Lambert.
“Miranda and I were listening to a lot of .38 Special and I said, 'Let's go and rip off .38 Special,’” McCollum cracked.
“Falling Apart,” which has commercial appeal, has the hooks of the poppy .38 Special but the song has McCollum's fingerprints all over it.
“Why Indiana” is a pure ear candy, paying tribute to the land of corn and basketball. The common denominator is that each of McCollum's latest songs are about something that matters.
“I write about things that move me,” he said. “I’m not big on the trivial.”
You can buy McCollum an ale but don't play him a song about brews.
“I'm not a fan of beer songs,” McCollum said. “I don't have any songs about beers or trucks. I come from another place.”
He crafts songs that are deep and catchy, and is adept at writing about relationships. He scored some airplay over recent years with such meaningful tunes as “To Be Loved By You” and “Love You Like That.”
“I try to write that perfect song you want to hear during that golden hour,” he said. “I admire the guys who have done that, like James McMurtry, Todd Snider and John Mayer, who is so underrated.
“There is a place for love songs — good love songs. They say something about life and it’s about what’s important. To me, it’s about having integrity. It's essential.”
McCollum believes that he’s attracted to meaningful music since that’s what he listened to as a kid just outside of Houston in Conroe, Texas.
“My mom listened to a lot of Johnny Cash and George Strait, as well as The Judds,” he said. “That music shaped me as a fan and eventually as a singer-songwriter. I was really blessed to be around it.”
High school football is a religion in the Lone Star State, and McCollum was part of the action on the gridiron. He also played baseball and basketball.
“But I knew that I was much better at singing, playing guitar and writing songs,” he said. “I had a much greater chance at success with music than sports. I watch my Houston teams and root for them on television, but I was never going to be able to play sports at a high level.”
However, McCollum is climbing the musical echelons. He showcased the single “Pretty Heart” on “The Today Show” six months ago.
“That was a big deal and a cool opportunity for me since my mom has watched that program her entire life,” he said. “Every morning she watches it, and then she gets to see her son come on there. That's awesome.”
McCollum is hoping to take that next step so perhaps it'll be commonplace for his mother and fans to catch him more often on national television.
“My goal is to headline 30,000-seat arenas, which is a lot different than what I'm doing now, which is playing before 5,000 to 10,000 people,” he said.
“But however it goes, I'm going to do it the right way. When I look back at this when I’m an old man, I'll have done it in a way I’ll be proud of.”