Parker McCollum’s plate is full of an abundance of new experiences and exciting projects, and even though his schedule keeps him busy, his main focus remains on his wife, Hallie Ray Light.
The lovebirds officially became husband and wife on Monday, March 28 when they said “I do” at Boxwood Manor in Tomball, Texas. Now that it’s been half a year of marriage and the honeymoon is over, they appear to be stronger than ever.
“Married life, it’s good. I mean, I kind of feel bad, I’ve been gone so much. She’s come out on the road with me some, but I just have not been home hardly, I don’t know, maybe 30 nights this year, something like that,” he told Country Now and other outlets. “So, it’s about as good as it could ever be is all I could say for so far. I don’t think it could get any better, but I’m sure it will.”
McCollum is best known for his heartbreak ballads, and although his love life seems to tell a different story now, his new music still brings up some of those darker times he’s experienced over the years.
His most recent release to radio, “Handle On You,” is an especially clear example of the sadness he experienced at a time when he and Hallie Ray were not on the best of terms. Co-written with Monty Criswell, this song depicts the story of someone who’s lost all form of hope and thus, turns to the bottle to try and gain some control.
Transporting back into the writing room, McCollum shares a glimpse into how this creative work came to be.
“I had been tossing some melodies around but didn’t really have anything that I was too, you know, over the top about or over the moon about. When Monty came over that day, he was like, ‘Man, I’ve got this idea for a song. It’s called ‘Finally Got a Handle on You.’’
From there, the lyrics flowed out between the two songwriters.
“He was writing it down and it’d sing it out and he’d write it down, and he’d sing something out and I’d write it down. It just fell out so quickly, which 90% of the time, it does not go like that.”
After hearing McCollum put his Texas stylings into the vocals, Criswell knew the song would be a hit. McCollum on the other hand, didn’t want to think too highly of the song in fear that he would jinx its success. Based on the reaction it’s had so far, it seems as though Criswell wasn’t too far off.
“Man, I think he was right. I hope he was,” the “Gold Chain Cowboy” confessed.
Not only is the song touching the hearts of listeners through their speakers, but McCollum has also had the chance to bring life to it on the stage. Being out on the road in support of Thomas Rhett’s Bring The Bar To You tour has given him the opportunity to showcase his new tunes and see their effect on the crowds.
Along the way, McCollum revealed he’s also learned some valuable lessons from the headliner.
“Being out with TR is, honestly, I mean this in the greatest way possible, it’s easy. He’s just such a good guy and we’re so taken care of on that tour. Everything runs so smoothly, and he’s like the head of that whole locomotive. I mean, he’s driving the bus a hundred percent and sets the tone and I’m really impressed by how he carries himself and goes about his business. It’s something I try to emulate.”
Soon, McCollum will have even more material to bring on the road as he prepares for the release of his upcoming album. He recently gave a sneak peek into the track list for this collection. Most of the 12 songs were blacked out as to not give away too much, but he did leave two titles uncovered, “Stoned” and “Handle On You.”
“The record is done being written,” he revealed. “I think I’m done writing for the record as of this last weekend, but I don’t think anything will even be remotely close to coming out till probably late quarter one next year, maybe. I feel like that’s early and pushing it, but I’d like to see that happen.”
In between enjoying downtime at home with his wife, singing his heart out on tour and polishing his new music in the studio, McCollum has also been presented with a different kind of opportunity. He was chosen to take part in an upcoming six-part documentary series titled, They Called Us Outlaws.
The twelve-hour documentary was written and directed by Austin filmmaker Eric Geadelman, and executive produced by Grammy Hall of Fame recipient and “Original Outlaw” Jessi Colter. In addition to Parker McCollum, over one hundred interviews are set to be included in the discussion of the origins of “outlaw country,” which is also known as country music’s “rebel” period.
“Real small, not very important, not an outlaw,” he said on his role in the series. “Eric, the director, he’s a good friend of mine and he took me some really cool places to do some interviews for that documentary. I grew up extremely heavily influenced by those guys. You know the whole, live the songs you write, I did that for a long time, as hard as I could, and we wrote some decent songs from that I think. I totally got that mentality from them of going to those places to write those songs and doing that stuff to yourself to write those songs and got all of that from them. So I think Eric kind of wanted maybe a younger perspective and to kind of show that those guys have influenced so many generations and are continuing to influence them still to this day. So just to get to be a small part of that was pretty insane.”
One of the special locations he got to visit was Waylon Jennings’ home, where he sat and got to know Jennings’ wife, Colter.
“She cooked, she made me lunch and told me all these crazy stories and answered all of my questions and took me in Waylon’s bedroom. She took me out back in their shop where they have every gold record, platinum record, photo, album, diary, songbook, everything, and let me just go through it. She said, ‘You can take whatever you want, do whatever.’ And I didn’t take anything. I was like, ‘Absolutely not, no way.’ But it was just, I don’t know, that was an incredible experience to get to be a small part of.”
With just a few dates left on the road with Thomas Rhett and a big year of new releases on the horizon, Parker McCollum is soaking up all the lessons that he can before the next trek comes his way. He’s next slated to play Moline, Illinois on Thursday, Oct. 13 with Rhett.