Zac Brown Band Shares Throwback Clip Missing Days of Live Performances

by Joe Rutland

Performing live is something groups like the Zac Brown Band miss a lot. For a remembrance, the band shares a clip from “CMT Crossroads.”

Musicians have not been able to tour and play before live audiences for months because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Zac Brown Band looks back on times when they could perform in front of people. It’s in the form of a clip from their “CMT Crossroads” show they shared on the band’s Instagram account. Pop superstar Shawn Mendes joined the band on stage for the show, which originally aired in October 2018.

Mendes was just 10 years old when the Zac Brown Band released their 2008 breakthrough album “The Foundation.” Ten years later, the Toronto native shared the stage with the high-energy country-rock outfit.

During the nine-song set, taped in September 2018 near Nashville, the singers trade vocals on each other’s biggest songs, including a major reworking of Mendes’ hit track “Mercy.”

There’s also a stirring cover of Michael Jackson’s goodwill anthem “Man in the Mirror” thrown in the mix and a version of “In the Blood,” from Mendes’ self-titled 2018 album.

Thanks to the Zac Brown Band’s instrumental virtuosity, Mendes’ surprisingly strong grasp of the country format, and the capacity crowd of young Mendes fans, the performance was highly energetic and very smooth, which speaks to the organic way this collaboration came about in the first place.

The Story Behind Zac Brown Band and ‘Chicken Fried’

If you listen to the Zac Brown Band, then you are quite familiar with the tune “Chicken Fried.”

The band first recorded the song in 2003 but later re-recorded it for the 2008 album, “The Foundation.” 

In looking at the song, it’s an ode to southern living. It’s a simple list of all things good about the South, from fried chicken to a pair of jeans. The bridge, however, dips into a deeper appreciation for why those comforts exist.

Zac Brown explained how he wrote the song with his friend Wyatt Durrette. Brown would play at Dixie Tavern in Atlanta, where Durrette worked as a bartender. At one point, the two sat down to try their hand at writing songs together.

“The first time we ever sat down to write some songs, we wrote ‘Whatever It Is,’” Brown said. “We knew we had something special.”

The song “Chicken Fried” came from an idea of Durrette. Brown really liked the idea, so the two ran with it. They made “a list of things that mattered to us and then things that are characteristic of the South,” and built the song around it. That structure and that story are what builds most of the iconic song.

H/T: Rolling Stone, The Boot