Top 10 Zac Brown Band Songs
Since their major label debut in 2008, the Zac Brown Band have built an enormous career on the strength of some of the most unique, standout songs in contemporary country music.
The group is strong on several levels. They not only write or co-write their own material, they also enjoy a much higher level of musical proficiency than most other contemporary country groups, and their willingness to explore new ground and incorporate elements of other genres makes their music stand out from other artists at country radio. Add to that the group’s trademark harmony vocals, as well as Brown’s signature tenor, and it’s a recipe for musical magic.
The best of Zac Brown Band’s music encompasses a wide array of fun, uptempo material, acoustic tunes and darker, moody ballads — as you’ll see in this list of the Top 10 Zac Brown Band Songs.
“Day for the Dead”
Zac Brown Band are arguably the only group in the contemporary commercial country music marketplace who could pull off a song like “Day for the Dead.” Produced by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, the multi-faceted track shows off the ensemble instrumental prowess of the band, as well as their vocal chops and the obvious skill and passion that drives their music.
“Jump Right In”
The third single from Uncaged mixes ZBB’s trademark vocal and instrumental blend with some interesting island percussion for a refreshing, energetic yet laid-back track that showcases much of what’s special about the group. Though it did not quite equal the chart success of some other singles, “Jump Right In” deserves a spot in the Top 10 Zac Brown Band Songs.
“Goodbye in Her Eyes”
This perfectly written, perfectly arranged track fully utilizes all of the vocal and instrumental talent in the group, but it does so in such an understated way that it keeps the focus on the craftsmanship of the song. It’s hard to come up with new ways to express heartbreak in a lyric, but ZBB pull it off here with “Sometimes I feel like a clown that can’t wash off his makeup.”
The radio single from The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1 is one of the freshest songs at country radio in years. Bringing together elements of rock, country, soul and even gospel music with ZBB’s trademark mix of instrumentation, the track — which the group co-wrote with Eric Church — features a soulful vocal from Brown and a jaw-dropping guitar solo from AJ Ghent.
The fifth and final single from The Foundation is another unique production. Written solely by Brown, the song relies heavily on the sound of his nylon string acoustic guitar, which is mostly favored by classical guitarists. The simple, sparse production keeps the focus on the song, but the track also features a dramatic crescendo mid-tune, before pulling all the way back to a cappella vocals for a striking contrast. “Free” reached No. 1 and also earned ZBB two Grammy nominations.
“Chicken Fried” was a song written piecemeal over the course of several years. Started by Brown, it began to take shape when Wyatt Durrette joined in. The two men threw in as many southern references as they could and added the patriotic third verse after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Released as the lead single from The Foundation, “Chicken Fried” became ZBB’s first No. 1 single in December of 2008.
“Highway 20 Ride”
“Highway 20 Ride” was inspired by songwriter Durrette’s real-life relationship with his son after his divorce. He was driving on Interstate 20 in Georgia, on his way to pick up his young son from his ex-wife for the weekend, when he started the song. He took what he had to Brown, who is the child of divorce, and they finished it together. Released as ZBB’s fourth single, it became their third consecutive No. 1 hit in April of 2010.
This feel-good track was the perfect summer single for 2009. Written by Brown, Durrette, John Driskell Hopkins and “Lullaby” singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins, the breezy island feel is reminiscent of a great Jimmy Buffett song. The track reached No. 1 at country radio, but not without changing the line, “Got my toes in the water, a– in the sand,” to “toes in the sand,” as well as omitting a later line that contained the phrase “roll a big fat one” — edits Brown was adamantly against.
“As She’s Walking Away”
The first single from You Get What You Give featured a guest vocal from country superstar Alan Jackson, who shared a producer, Keith Stegall, with Zac Brown Band. The track was a perfect interplay of the group’s instrumentation and the vocal chemistry between Brown and Jackson, not only reaching No. 1, but also earning a Grammy for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
ZBB took a different, much sparser approach to “Colder Weather.” Based around a simple piano motif and featuring an impassioned vocal from Brown, the brooding ballad features an expertly crafted lyric, along with a restrained, tightly focused instrumental track. It reached No. 1 and also earns the top spot on our Top 10 Zac Brown Band Songs list with its aching tale of longing and loneliness.