LISTEN: Parker McCollum Takes on a George Strait Classic ‘Carrying Your Love With Me’

by Lauren Boisvert

Parker McCollum recently took on a George Strait classic, “Carrying Your Love With Me,” and he did it so much justice that it sounds almost exactly like the George Strait original.

McCollum is an interesting figure in music, because his look doesn’t exactly scream “country,” but his sound definitely does. He’s a Texas boy, and it comes out in his music, but he has an interesting aesthetic. Which, I guess, is the inspiration for his recent album, “Gold Chain Cowboy.” Rolling Stone called him a “confessional singer-songwriter,” and it’s true, he’s great at telling stories in his songs. Which is why he excels at covering a George Strait classic.

While it might seem like George Strait is a little too old-school country for Parker McCollum, who I believe is firmly in the new-school category, the cover works exceptionally well. A lot of young country artists cite Strait as an influence, and that just goes to show the scope of George Strait’s talent and legacy.

But, the cover; Parker McCollum’s sound is a little more flat than George Strait, but not in a bad way. Strait has an almost whining sound that accompanies his voice at times, a distinct twang that happens when he moves up in his vocal range. That’s kind of a trait of classic country, I’ve found; some artists have that sound, but McCollum doesn’t really have it. His voice is a little more solid, he moves through his range smoothly and doesn’t get caught on the jagged edge of twang that creates that whine.

Parker McCollum Covers George Strait Classic: Comparing the Two Songs

So, their sound is so similar, yet McCollum can still make the song his own. He could have done more by changing the accompaniment from steel guitar to straight-up acoustic, or something different altogether. That would have set this cover apart from the original; personally, I tend to respond better to covers that change the original song in some fundamental way, a way that makes it almost a new song.

The song itself is genius; so simple, yet heartfelt and hopeful. The images are strong and rich, especially the stanza where the woman’s name is said and “the clouds roll back and the waters part / the sun starts shining in my heart for you.” It’s so romantic in a simple, innocent way. Just a man hanging onto a pure love to get him through the long hours of traveling.

Parker McCollum’s version is similar, but there’s a generational spin on it; his voice lends itself to painting a younger picture of this love, feels like he’s brought it into this day and age. The original song is from a 1997 album of the same name, and McCollum’s version has given it a facelift for the modern era.