Zac Brown Band, “Chicken Fried”

When that mellow guitar intro first chimes in, you might swear you’re listening to a late-night NPR special. Or watching an iPhoto slide show. Or maybe hanging out in a coffee shop somewhere in Georgia.

When that intro abruptly launches into a mid-tempo stomp rife with stock phrases about the joys of Friday-night beers and comfortable pairs of jeans, you might wonder how you’ve suddenly gone from elevator music to a Bud Light commercial.

When that mid-tempo stomp segues into a military drumroll and Brown takes a moment to throw out yet more stock phrases, this time about the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, you might be utterly confused as to why a song celebrating rural lifestyle suddenly demanded this moment of simplistic patriotism.

And when that moment of simplistic patriotism finally gives way to a weird, reggae-lite reprisal of the song’s chorus, you might consider banging your head angrily against nearby walls and surfaces.

Moral of the story: an annoying, uncreatively written song is still an annoying, uncreatively written song, no matter how many different ways you dress it up. If the shameless pandering that comprises this ditty earns Brown and company a bankable radio hit, I hope they’ll consider buying me a new wall.

Written by Zac Brown and Wyatt Durrette

Grade: D

Listen: Chicken Fried


  1. Whoa, after listening to the song, I can’t believe how right on this review is. Way to trivialize. I’m thinking that our men and women aren’t giving their lives so that we can enjoy chicken fry! Dang, I’ll give up fried chicken, if that’s the case.

    I realize the song is trying to say more than that, but it’s weak and pandering, for sure.

  2. I’ve liked the song for a while now based on the groove of the band and not really paying attention to the lyrics, which I usually don’t do. They’re from the same Georgia area as the Lost Trailers and their record is an amalgam of many genres. In fact, The Lost Trailers had released this song as a single when they first came out (before Zac Brown decided to keep it for himself). Oh, they got Keith Stegall to produce their record.

  3. Matt, I remember reading about that situation with the Lost Trailers and being glad that it turned out like it did, since I find the Trailers’ “Holler Back” (the song, if not so much the album) to be a much more interesting and creative celebration of Southern culture than this one. But, as always, different strokes.

  4. While I’m all about the groove and production, lyrics are a big part of a song. Sonically, I enjoy “Courtesy of the Red White And Blue”, but my disdain for the lyrics overpower the redeeming parts of the song for me. Conversely, if I hear a song that isn’t sonically pleasing, great lyrics cant redeem the song for me.

  5. good review. i like the tune, but the lyrics are pretty silly, especially the part about the soldiers figting so we don’t have to give up friend chicken and stuff. that was the main turn off for me.

  6. You are wrong, good song, good tune, good sound, good feeling. All the people that agree with the author are sheep, if you like the sound of the song don’t change your mind cause this guy i trying to stand out from every other reviewer and be cynical/funny…… Its just about good living and enjoying the simple things in life, who cant appreciate that. Oh and I’m a combat wounded vet, I’m not offended so you can lose that argument too

  7. DM,

    I’m all for enjoying the simple things in life; I just personally don’t think this song presents that idea in an interesting way. And I actually played this song for some of my ROTC friends before posting the review, just to get other opinions on the military part, and they hated it (without my saying anything) for the same reason Leeann noted. I think military service is an incredible thing, and I think this song trivializes it by implying that it exists so that the rest of us can enjoy partying on Friday night.

    But I don’t have a problem with you disagreeing with my opinion or interpretation. I suspect that many people will like the song, and I understand why. It’s just not my thing, personally.

  8. Dan,

    You are right, i shouldn’t have told you that your personal opinion is wrong. However, when you are in the desert and life sucks and you can see your woman or anything you love for that matter all you want to do is what this guy is singing about. Oh well, to each his own, and maybe your ROTC friends will change their minds once they have been there……

  9. The spirit of the song may not be the problem The bad build up to the climax is a problem, however. He crossed the line from a potentially surprising climax that nobody saw coming to a random one that just seems out of place. That’s what makes this song cringeworthy.

    Furthermore, people who agree with Dan’s review, including myself, are not sheep. We simply don’t like the song. That’s like saying that people who agree with *your* critique above are sheep, which they clearly wouldn’t be.

  10. They aren’t implying that us solders are fighting for fried chicken and stuff…. its implying that we are fighting for your everyday right to be free and do what you want with your lives… weather its eating fried chicken or drinking a bud light.


  11. I like the song in general. && the song is focused on the freedoms in life that we can enjoy because of our soldiers. I do not like talk about the war and mainly i dont discuss it.. but this song is based on back home country living. we use to do chicken fries because as a child i didn’t like fish and still dont much. it is basically just as he describes it. our family has several over there and we always drink one for em and i think it is more saluting them. which is where i think he was trying to go.

  12. People what he said was,

    So we don’t have to sacrifice all the things we love…

    It’s a feel good song nice and simple. You guys are being too anal trying to read into everything. Jesus take a break, go outside once in a while and watch the trees sway back and forth, smell the fresh air, enjoy life while you are here….

    I like the song. Great job Zac! Keep em comin. Great guitar playing too!

  13. John Maglite said:

    “Way to end strong…”

    To a review about a song? LOL!

    What an idiot!

    You and that puckered up sphincter democrat reviewer would have a whale of a time together

  14. Dan Milliken

    What gives you the right to “grade” Zac

    Brown’s work? What have you contributed

    besides a half assed review of a song you

    could possibly understand.

  15. Mr. Southern,

    You are free to disagree with the comments and review here, but we do not accept name calling or insulting comments. Please keep that in mind for any further comments that you’d like to make; otherwise, any subsequent posts that violate our Comment Policy will be deleted.

  16. “puckered up sphincter democrat reviewer”

    1) Dude…gross.

    2) I don’t see how my opinion that this song is badly-written has anything to do with my political persuasion. I wasn’t aware that musical taste was a partisan issue.

    3) As I said earlier in this comment thread, I have nothing but admiration for the military and the other things discussed in the song; I just don’t think they were written about in a way that does them justice. You are still free to like the song; my disliking it shouldn’t ruin that for you.

    “Jesus take a break, go outside once in a while and watch the trees sway back and forth, smell the fresh air, enjoy life while you are here….”

    4) Trust me, I enjoy life (and nature) quite a lot as it is. I don’t need this song to help me do that.

  17. It is soooo not cool to write patiotic lyrics now. Shame on Zac Brown. Just kidding. I like this song. The lyrics are nothing special though. There are songs that I like for the lyrics, and then there are songs (like this one) that are just fun to listen to.

    I haven’t really heard the cd version of the song. I’ve been listening to a great youtube video of these guys playing this song at the House of Blues. Great band – and ZB busts out a great bluegrass solo at the end. Love the way he plays a nylon-string acoustic. Kind of different.

  18. well i just stumbled upon your review and apparently you dont know good country music which is hard to find these days so i suggest you get a new job

  19. Well. i agree and disagree with your review.. you really cant judge a group by one song. so if you listen to the whole cd i think you will have a very diffrent view. i am a big fan of this group. to me the song is an upbeat song, and if you go to there shows it is demanded. its like smells like teen spirit to nirvana. ive been hearing this song for years im tired of hearing. but at the same time the crowd begs for it. your reading way to into it. go listen to “highway 20 ride”. get a diffrent aspect of there music.. and if you happen to catch a show, when they play chicken fried you will be standing there holding your beer in the air, you cant help it, and i have heard the song a million times.

  20. Chicken Fried is an awesome song! I think it is clever and fun, and a way to encourage people to realize that life is not about the materialistic things. It is about appreciating our freedoms that have come with a price. Our troops deserve to be saluted for what we have, which is the ability to love the little things that matter, whatever that might be to you. Any proud American can relate to this song. The whole album is great! The band is amazing in concert – maybe that is why they are opening for Alan Jackson tonight! Way to go Zac!

  21. Okay, but if the reception of the song splits evenly along political lines (which it doesn’t, but that’s what you suggested), wouldn’t that mean it’s more about appealing to a certain political group than it is about just being a good song? I appreciate songs from either side of the aisle as long as they’re well-crafted. I’d like to think the same of most other music fans.

    Also, supporting the military is not a partisan issue.

  22. Mr. Southern,

    I’d like it if you wouldn’t disregard our comment policy (which is why your previous comment has been deleted), but more than that, I really wish you’d just put some more thought into your remarks. You don’t know anything about me aside from my thoughts on this particular song, and it’s extremely judgmental to assert that I must be a Democrat or must not appreciate the military because I dislike the way this song is written. My father is in the military, Mr. Southern, and some of my favorite songs in the world are about the sacrifices he and others like him have made.

    As a final remark, I’m not passing judgment on anyone’s character here; I’ll bet Zac Brown Band are great, talented guys, and I’ll bet they’re more than secure enough to deal with the fact that a few people on the internet don’t like their song. As others have noted here rather respectfully, they do like it very much, and I’m not trying to ruin that for them. So let’s put this behind us, please.

  23. I sure wouldn’t give this song a D. It’s different and alot better than alot of the other stuff out there nowadays that isn’t country at all. Go to their website and listen ot their other songs especially What It Is. Not everyone will like everyone’s song but if you haven’t written a song or had one recorded then your just another opinion.

  24. How does disagreeing with someone’s opinion tell you someone’s a Democrat? Why are politics a part of this discussion? and you spell it “whether” not “weather”

    Bloody Republicans LOL

  25. Furthermore, I conclude That The Listening voice of Country music has a 90% Left leaning political vote since the 2004 election. Therefore shall there be any room for ‘neocons’ in this forum. So, Songs bearing any hint of Christian heritage should not be in songs to preserve the separation of Church and state.

  26. I am GlAAD You Asked. The First part of this biased song should take into consideration that not all persons that hear this song eat “chicken” To PETA To is almost an Abomination to eat fellow Earth Beings. Beer, Jeans, And Pine Trees, Sweet tea pecan pie and homemade wine? That is a Hick culture not shared by most of Civilization.
    As for the rest of the song, Patriotism should be omitted because not all persons listening to the lyrics are American Nationalists, Flag Waving Hillbilly hooters. Some people are not of the american affection and may be offended. I would suggest a more Nation neutral version to appease other peoples beliefs.
    I think we can all agree that the ACLU does not allow public displays of a persons faith in God as dictated by Harry Reid, The Most Influential man in the Government today.
    This would make this song loved the “Sheep” as You so arrogantly mocked them.

  27. I like smart, well written songs that find new and interesting ways to lyrically say something.

    This song is none of that.

    This band may be quite talented, they have have written a bunch of other songs that are all the above things, but this particular song just is pathetic in the way doesnt even try and say something new. Furthermore, I would go so far as to say that it’s less a “down home ode to Country life” and more just pandering to the Country Music audience in an attempt to get a hit record rather than actually trying to say something with a song.

    The Zac Brown Band is far from the first to do this, just the latest, and other bands and singers have done this repeated times, but I think it’s time we just move on from the “down home living songs” and the “God Bless America” songs. Our Country is a great Country, but I just dont think these songs have anything new left to say.

  28. Everything said here is opinion. That is a fact. Another fact is that “Chickenfried” is # 20 on country countdown this week and is climbing every week.

  29. This song doesn’t pander to any audience. It was written from what Zac was experiencing. He was toasting to the fact that those who fight to protect rights in America do so so that we have the ability to do things like pary, eat fried chicken, etc. That’s all.

  30. Dude,

    Get the definition of cannibal right:
    1. A person who eats the flesh of other humans.
    2. An animal that feeds on others of its own kind.

    how is eating chicken= to cannibalism. That’s just insane, stupid logic. I support PETA and their ‘ethical treatment of animals.’

    All that aside, what does any of that have to do with THIS song other than someone singing about eating fried chicken?

  31. to qualify as a cannibal, matt b, actually, would have to eat some of us, but not fowl.

    there seems to be room for improvement on the facts-side of your posts. why not using it?

  32. Tom,

    I can’t even stand to see much human blood, much less that thought.

    “Gae pannywaste” is a troll and I should have ignored them. Their name alone showcases them as such.

  33. One more fact, the picture you have posted with your “review” is an old picture. Two of the guys in this pic are no longer with ZBB. But who would expect a hack like you to do your research.

  34. The Lantern Pub in my hometown, Ashley, IL, serves an all-you-can-eat fried chicken dinner on Sundays.

    In addition to the fried chicken, your meal arrives with choice of potato (I recommend the mashed w/ brown gravy), vegetable, side salad and a basket of dinner rolls. $6.95/per person, and white meat only is $1 extra.

  35. I am not a troll as You refered to me. In am actually 5’9″ and that is average sized male. Perhaps You are a ‘Giant”.

  36. This is why I don’t like country universe. Chicken Fried is one of the best songs that has came out in country for awhile. This song shows you that county is still alive. This song represents what country is all about. The music develops a happy emotion and the cleaverness of the lyrics bring a smile to anyones face. God I really hate country universe, why do I continue to read what you idiot writers have to say about these songs!

  37. I agree with almost everything you say about it being full of cliches, I like the tempo changes, i like the cliches, and at the risk of sounding like overly sensitive “cry into my pillow every night” guy I like they way it makes me feel. Which is happy.

    So guilty pleasure? Maybe

    Shameless pandering? I don’t think so

    But that’s my opinion, and everyone else can feel free to keep there’s to themselves:)


  38. Terrible review, this is a catchy lil country throwback song that is steadily climbing the charts…maybe you’ve never sat on your back porch drinking a beer on a Friday night waitin on the fried chicken to finish cookin’….apparently not, so you’d have no idea whats trying to be conveyed here..just enjoying the simple things in life. You are entitled to your opinion like everyone else…its just your opinion is wrong..we all have our downfalls and this is yours.

  39. You are entitled to your opinion like everyone else…its just your opinion is wrong..we all have our downfalls and this is yours.

    Hey, Merry Christmas to you, too, pal.

    And by the way, it’s a bit unusual for a song to still be “steadily climbing the charts” when it has spent the last two weeks in the #1 spot. Kind of hard to go up from there.

    But in the spirit of the season, would it help everyone if I said I’m sorry I phrased the review in such a snobbish manner? Don’t get me wrong; I still think it’s a ‘D’, but I do think I could have been more respectful myself, and I apologize for not doing so. I would point out that this was my very first review for this site, and I didn’t necessarily have the same judgment then that I do now.

  40. Good Lord, this song stinks to high heaven. I consider Zac Brown and company to be one of most overrated country acts. But among all of country’s top vocal groups (the Flatts, Lady A, etc.), I can’t think of very many that are not overrated.

  41. I agree the song “Chicken Fried” is awful. Its completely cliched and the singer has a pretty mediocre voice. Overall I also think Zac Brown band is pretty overrated.

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