Though they don’t wear the “outsider” badge as proudly as contemporaries like Eric Church, the Zac Brown Band very much play by their own rules. As one of the few true “bands” in modern country, the group carved out a niche as virtuoso musicians and phenomenal modern songwriters with just the right hint of country music traditionalism.
The band’s major label debut The Foundation set an incredibly high bar, one which they continue to challenge with innovative records and sold out world tours. They just released Welcome Home, a record which they say pays homage to their Atlanta, Georgia roots, even before their first major album.
It’s cracked a quarter of a million in sales, and the song “My Old Man” made a surprise run on radio, cracking the top 10. Other songs like “Roots” and “Family Table” also pleased longtime fans. But none of the fresh tunes quite seem strong enough to merit our list of top 10 Zac Brown Band songs. Which is pretty tough, considering they produced a “greatest hits” record after only six years and three albums.
If you’ve ever seen them live, you’ve probably been blown away by their amazing covers of tracks like “Alabama Jubilee,” “America the Beautiful,” “The Night I Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Jolene” or deep cuts like “Natural Disaster,” “Long Haul” and “Real Thing.” Band members Zac Brown, Jimmy De Martini, John Driskell Hopkins, Coy Bowles, Clay Cook, Chris Fryar, Daniel De Los Reyes and Matt Mangano’s talents have earned them a dedicated following.
Read on to find out which of the Zac Brown Band songs from their uber successful, Grammy-winning career made the top 10. (And no, their cover of “Devil Went Down To Georgia” didn’t make the list, cause that’s just not fair).
“Homegrown” sneaks in as the only song to make it off 2015’s Jekyll + Hyde, which is less a slight to that adventurous record and more a nod to their incredible overall body of work. (The phenomenal cover of Jason Isbell’s “Dress Blues” came close, even if it’s a cover). After all, even the controversial “Beautiful Drug” made it to No. 1 on radio across the United States. But this incredibly catchy, upbeat radio smash captures the lighthearted, home-loving side of ZBB that so many came to love.
9. As She’s Walking Away (feat. Alan Jackson)
Off 2010’s You Get What You Give, this duet with Alan Jackson really helped solidify Zac Brown Band as a modern artist with a heavy throwback style. Along with another certain duet (on that album and on this list), it lent some serious credibility to the band in the older country listening world.
8. Knee Deep (feat. Jimmy Buffett)
Off the same record as the above tune, “Knee Deep” is pretty much the epitome of Brown’s carefree island side. And he has plenty of these different kinds of songs, from “Toes” to “Mango Tree.” But this song is definitely the king of them all, thanks largely to an appearance from the original parrot head himself.
7. Sweet Annie
From their 2012 album Uncaged, “Sweet Annie” kind of came out of nowhere as another No. 1 single, but exemplifies just what so many love about the band: those heartfelt lyrics wrapped in head-spinning harmonies.
6. Whatever It Is
One of several hits from The Foundation, “Whatever It Is” is a fantastic example of making a great, unique lyrics out of the inability to actually describe a person. It’s like the country version of saying someone just has that “je ne sais quoi,” without actually sounding, you know, French.
“Free” is an ode to the touring band life the group enjoyed for years before their success. The song then seamlessly transitions to a love song, hinting to a technique Brown later repeats to great success in his catalog.
4. Goodbye In Her Eyes
See this one as the sad ending to the love that began in “Whatever It Is.” It’s just another beautifully understated song, with killer lines like, “She found what she’d been looking for, and I knew it wasn’t me.”
3. Highway 20 Ride
Not many artists can make a country song about shared custody of a kid so beautiful and so painful at the same time. Another song off the band’s debut record, this one hit listeners like a ton of bricks. It again climbed to No. 1. Contrasted with some of the singles from new radio acts like Chris Lane and Dylan Scott? Talk about music that means something.
2. Chicken Fried
“Chicken Fried” is a storied song that essentially ended one band (The Lost Trailers) and launched another. Much like Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” a lot of people who’ve never heard another Zac Brown Band song still know this one, which is both a shame and a plus. Their debut single, it’s still probably their most popular song ever.
1. Colder Weather
Pretty much a masterclass on songwriting. Just listen and enjoy.
Honorable Mentions: “Where The Boat Leaves From,” “Toes” ft. Shawn Mullins, “Bar” ft. feat. Sonia Leigh, “All Alright” from The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1