HomeEntertainmentMusicZach Bryan’s ‘Heading South’: Lyrics and Story Behind the Song

Zach Bryan’s ‘Heading South’: Lyrics and Story Behind the Song

by Clayton Edwards
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(Photo Credit: Samuel Elkins via Warner Records)

Today, a renaissance of sorts is taking place in the country music world thanks to the internet. Several artists, unsatisfied with the current sound and state of country music are blazing their own trails to success. Artists like Zach Bryan are writing, performing, and recording authentic music that speaks to the hearts of countless listeners across the globe. These artists aren’t relying on the radio to put them in front of new listeners. Instead, they’re using social media and word of mouth to grow large and loyal fanbases. Today, we’re going to look at “Heading South,” the song that arguably put Zach Bryan on the map.

At a Glance

  • A Navy captain inspired Zach Bryan to pen “Heading South”
  • The video of Bryan playing the song by a campfire went viral.
  • “Heading South” is now a Gold-certified song.

What Inspired Zach Bryan to Write “Heading South”

“Heading South” introduced millions of people to Zach Bryan and his music. The original video, posted in 2019, went viral. It didn’t take people long to realize that there was something to this sweaty young man who was beating the hell out of his guitar strings and letting his soul and woes pour from his mouth.

In February, Zach Bryan shared the stories behind “Heading South”’ and a handful of other songs with his followers. According to the tweet, a Navy chief inspired him to pen the song. “I was at work with the Navy, a chief that used to yell at me every day when I was becoming an ordnance team leader bugged me,” he wrote. Then, he went home and wrote the line “In a world full of people out to cut his young ass down.” Three minutes later, he had penned “Heading South.”

What Came From That 3-Minute Writing Session?  

First and foremost, Zach Bryan wrote one hell of a song with “Heading South” and it helped boost his signal. However, it goes deeper than that. Zach showed us a couple of things with this song and the lessons become clear when you look at the story behind it.

Instead of letting his frustration and angst build and fester inside him or being self-destructive about it, Zach Bryan took the creative route. He let it all go in the song. You can really hear the anger in his voice in the original video. It’s still there in the album version as well.

“Heading South” also showed both Zach Bryan and the world at large that there is a portion of the population that is hungry for music that feels, for lack of a better term, real. It was the lead single from Bryan’s 2020 album Elisabeth and hit streaming services in September of 2019. In November of 2021, it became Bryan’s first RIAA-Certified Gold single.

“Heading South” (Album Version) Lyrics

Verse 1
He was a boy who was a dreamer
And he flew so high and proud
In a world full of people out to cut his young ass down
No one ever understood a single word he said
And they cast him to the wolves when he wasn’t well and fed
Verse 2
Boys we’ve got a riser, a riser in our midst
And he will get the last laugh if it’s the last thing he did
And he used to roll around in that red dirt mud
But now he’s skipping town, and that dreamer’s out for blood
Chorus
Don’t stop goin’, goin’ South
‘Cause they’ll let you play your music real damn loud
Don’t stop headin’, headin’ South
‘Cause they will understand the words
That are pouring from your mouth
Verse 3
And that boy, he called his daddy to tell him what he did
As the masses screamed the lyrics of a messed up kid
And then he told that old man he was never coming back
To be cut down again in a town like that
Bridge
Then he surely came to learn people come to watch you fall
But he’s out to make a name and a fool out of ’em all
They’ll never understand that boy and his kind
‘Cause all they comprehend is a f-ckin’ dollar sign
Chorus
Don’t stop goin’, goin’ South
‘Cause they’ll let you play your music real damn loud
Don’t stop headin’, headin’ South
‘Cause they will understand the words
That are pouring from your mouth
Outro
Don’t stop goin’, goin’ South
‘Cause they’ll let you play your music real damn loud
Don’t stop headin’, headin’ South
They will understand the words
That are pouring from your mouth

Outsider.com