Story Behind the Song: Zac Brown Band, ‘Toes’
Zac Brown and Wyatt Durrette, along with Zac Brown Band bassist John Driskell Hopkins and Shawn Mullins, were inspired to write ZBB's No. 1 hit "Toes" by Durrette's 30th birthday vacation in Key West, Fla. The third single from the band's major-label debut album, 2008's The Foundation, "Toes" became their third consecutive Top 5 and second No. 1 single on the country charts; it also landed in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 30 and has been certified double platinum. Below, Brown and Durrette discuss writing the song.
Durrette: I went to the Keys with four of my friends for four days. On the morning of the third day, I turned to my friends and said, "I've got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand. Life is good today, life is good today." I said that whole line. So I called Zac to tell him that we needed to start working on this song.
Brown: I had played a show in Atlanta and had gotten out at two or three in the morning. I'd driven back to my house, which was an hour-and-a-half drive. It was 5:30 in the morning, and my house phone rang. It was Wyatt. He was at the beach, as he often is. He loves to be at the ocean. He starts to look like he's from the Middle East after he gets back up from the fair-weather months.
That was the beginning of it all. I don't know how long after that it was when we actually finished it. I remember [working on the song] in a hotel room somewhere, at the bonfire at my farm and out on the road. It all kind of runs together. When we were getting ready to record it, we ended up taking it into the studio at John Hopkins' place. Shawn Mullins was there, too. I was interested in talking to him about working on some stuff in the studio. We played him what we had for it. They had some ideas for the arrangement. Shawn said, "You need to be drinking a PBR at the end of it or something." That fit, too.
Durrette: One of the things that happens a lot with our songs is both of us have lots of books and journals and lots of things in our computers -- pieces of songs that were started and not quite finished. We don't want to overthink a song. The "adios and vaya con dios" part was another song. It's happened with a handful of songs -- we take little pieces from things we've written in the past, and if they fit melodically and they make sense, we put it in the song.
This story was originally written by Alanna Conaway, and revised by Angela Stefano.
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