The ‘90s were a revolutionary time for not only rock ‘n’ roll but also for country music. The country scene exploded out of the honky-tonk and into the arena. The radio waves throughout the world were filled with new-school country anthems. Icons such as Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt treated thousands to charismatic stage shows with big production budgets. The honky-tonk troubadour evolved into a country superstar. Country music was changed forever.
Daphne native Aaron Parker considers himself one of ‘90s country’s biggest fans. With his mother accompanying him on piano, these sounds reverberated through his childhood as he sang at South River Park Church of God on County Road 32 near Fairhope. The country songs of the ‘90s remained in the back of his mind as he started and quit guitar lessons at Jubilee Music. Even when he played with half of The Mulligan Brothers in a cover band called Slap Out, Parker’s love for artists such as Tracy Lawrence and George Strait remained strong. As he began singing in the choir at Faulkner State Community College, fate intervened and Parker decided to dedicate his career to country music.
“I started finding out that I was a lot more country, even more than I wanted to be at that moment,” Parker said. “I loved the songs and couldn’t get away from it. It was my roots.”
Parker did what thousands of other country hopefuls have done for decades; he packed his things and moved to Nashville. As he made this life-changing move, he began to feel apprehensive. He recognized he shared his aspirations with a multitude of individuals who never lived out their country dreams. With this in mind, Parker began to conjure the muses of sound that he loved so much. He analyzed what made ‘90s-era country so appealing. He looked past the big production shows and crowded arenas and realized the songs were what made this era of country music so special to him.
“I noticed that there was a lyrical content or lyrical level that was probably the reason I fell in love with them,” Parker said. “When I came to Nashville, I was interested in finding songs and writing songs that had that level of lyric.”
As with many songwriters, Parker found lyrical inspiration in his life. He began to pen songs that reflected growing up in Baldwin County and “figuring out how to be a man.” While making his way in Nashville, Parker had the chance to contribute a song to the soundtrack of an indie film called “Born Wild” (originally titled “Thriftstore Cowboy”). This opportunity would evolve into Parker’s big break. When asked his choice for publisher and management, Parker chose Major Bob Music, which was also home of the management firm Bob Doyle & Associates. Knowing this firm represents such notables as Garth Brooks, Parker realized the request was a gamble. But not long after approaching Major Bob Music, he joined its impressive roster.
Now Parker is giving the world his first musical offering, “Country Songs and You.” He loaded this five-song EP with what he thinks are the most powerful songs he’s written over the past four years.
“I felt like they were the best in my stack to tell my initial story to the preface of the book that I’m trying to cultivate,” Parker said. “I thought it was important to show people a look into my life at that age and a look into my growing up. To be completely honest, that’s what this EP was about.”
“I’d Go Right Now” is the first single from the release and a prime example of Parker’s autobiographical writing style. He paints a beautiful picture of his life on Mobile Bay. With a smooth country croon, Parker recalls memories of teenage love and high school football games. A memorable hook straight out of ‘90s country is sandwiched between each heartfelt verse.
Parker has truly mastered the aural formula that made ‘90s country legendary, and the critics seem to love every song. Some critics are even touting him as a country music superstar in the making. Even Parker will admit to feeling a “shift” in his career. However, this humble country artist feels his best reaction to these comments is to remain focused on his career goals.
“When you hear those things, you have to just keep practicing guitar and playing shows,” Parker said. “You can’t really acknowledge any of it. You just have to be thankful, and I am, truly. I just kinda have to bear down and continue doing what we’re doing and get the movement going out there.”
The tracks on “Country Songs and You” are not the album’s only tribute to ‘90s country. Parker devised what he describes as “an old-school, progressive way” of releasing the EP. The public can receive copies of Parker’s debut effort by joining his fan club. In addition to the songs of the era, Parker said he admires the fan clubs of ‘90s country superstars. He cites them as a perfect way for the artist to engage with fans. With this in mind, Parker decided to release “Country Songs and You” through his fan club. He sees this choice as a way to give back to a loyal fan base that has been following him since the beginning.
“They were hanging out with me on Facebook when I had nothing to talk about,” Parker explained. “I didn’t have a booking agent or anything. I have to pay homage to these people and give them what they wanted. I just wanted to say, ‘Hey, man, I see you! Thanks for being along for the ride!’”
Parker hasn’t forgotten his hometown. He’s made regular visits to the area and performed for his local fans at venues such as Midnight Rodeo. When asked when he’ll be returning, Parker could only say, “Soon.” Until then, his main goal is to tour extensively and spread the sounds of his new album as far as possible. If Aaron Parker continues to build his career, the Gulf Coast may watch as the young country hopeful trades the honky-tonk for the arena.