Parker McCollum’s Simmering ‘Burn It Down’ Shows Restraint, to a Point [Listen]
Back in 2006, George Strait's "Give It Away" surveyed the detritus left after a breakup — the honeymoon photos, the bed, the furniture and even the house that contains it all — and concluded that all of it, without the love that made it a home, was worthless. He couldn't even give it away for free.
Seventeen years later, another Texan, Parker McCollum, reached an even more radical conclusion. The woman he loves is gone, and the home they shared is so full of bad memories that even giving it away won't do: He wants to burn it right down the ground.
McCollum's new single, "Burn It Down," is one of those tracks where the sonic aesthetics fit the lyrical metaphor. But this is no explosive, fiery, scorched-earth song: Rather it's a slow burn that takes its time smoldering before finally building up to an emotional climax.
It might have been tempting to come out of the gates brandishing a flaming torch, but McCollum's more drawn-out approach pays off. It's as if he's giving his actions careful consideration before he does something he can't undo — though in the end, a fiery conclusion wins the day.
McCollum comes honestly by the defeatism he expresses in the song. According to Billboard, he was feeling markedly uninspired the day he sat down for the writing session that ultimately produced "Burn It Down." Booked to write with Hillary Lindsey, Liz Rose and Lori McKenna — the famed Nashville songwriting trio known as the Love Junkies — the singer had already finished his album, and he didn't see the point of writing that day at all. Rose had to talk him into it during a private kitchen conversation.
"... I thought, 'You know Parker, you say that, but you know what always happens. You write that song that you didn't have, and you can't believe you wrote [it.]' He goes, 'I know. How many times has that happened?'"
Sure enough, by the time the song was written, McCollum was convinced: "Burn It Down" needed to be on the track of his Never Enough album, which came out in May. Not only that, but it's his newest single, following 2022's "Handle on You."
Parker McCollum's "Burn it Down" Lyrics:
Goodbye, strung out on the law / The line between us was drawn / All I can see is you're gone / And you left me here / With this house on this ground / Burn it down
I'll leave my memories inside / In that bed we loved in all night / Every word, every fight / Every feeling, stone cold / Not a sound
Burn it down / 'Til it's ashes and smoke / Burn it down / To the smouldering coals / Burn it down / 'Til I don't want you no more / Baby, burn it down
Every last song that I wrote / About me and you growing old / Every sliver of hope, everything I know / Pile it up right now
Burn it down / Burn it, burn it, burn it / Burn it down / Burn it, burn it, burn it / Burn it down / Burn it, burn it, burn it