"I got my toes in the water/ Ass in the sand/ Not a worry in the world/ A cold beer in my hand," begins Zac Brown Band's mega-hit "Toes." That Brown finishes his ode to dropping out with a serene "life is good today" makes it all the more appealing pure escapism in these tough economic times. And judging by his sales, millions have been willing to buy into that philosophy and escape for a while, even if just for the hour-plus it takes for Brown's second studio album, You Get What You Give, to play from start to finish.
Georgia native Zac Brown was the 11th child in a family of 12. His guitar-playing father exposed the clan to a variety of music, and the young songwriter really hunkered down with his siblings' record collections especially that of his oldest brother, 21 years Zac's senior. He thus absorbed singer-songwriters, country and bluegrass, pop, and rock without prejudice.
When Brown entered college, he formed a band to help pay his tuition. The band sort of drifted in and out of status, but the events of September 11, 2001, inspired Brown to quit school and concentrate on music full time. Christened The Zac Brown Band, he and his cohorts racked up an amazing 200 gigs their first year, playing anywhere that would have them, be it country clubs or jam festivals. All of these experiences have shaped their somewhat country, singer-songwriter-ish, yacht-rock-meets-slightly-hippie-dippy sound.
And while that sound is difficult to pin down, their influences are a bit easier to spot. So let's peel back some layers and divine the influences of 2010's platinum-selling You Get What You Give. If you want to cut right to the music, this playlist includes both Z.B.B. songs and their direct influences. The rest can read on.