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After a series of independent albums, the band broke through in 2008 with the song "Chicken Fried". Originally released through a now-defunct indie label, the song was picked up by Atlantic Records partway through its chart run and included on the album The Foundation. Both it and three of the album's other singles ("Toes", "Highway 20 Ride" and "Free") went to Number One, and "Whatever It Is" went to number two. Also, the band won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. That's a good way to start.
A second Atlantic album, You Get What You Give, was released in late 2010. Its first single is "As She's Walking Away", a duet with Alan Jackson.
- Album Title Drop: You Get What You Give is title-dropped in "Martin".
- Badass Beard: Zac Brown.
- Bowdlerize: Several radio edits of "Toes" exist, primarily censoring "ass in the sand" in the chorus and "roll a big fat one". The official edit changes "ass in the sand" to "toes in the sand" and silences "fat one", although some stations made their own edits and others just play the uncensored album version. Zac was not pleased, but his co-writer didn't mind.
- Broken Record: "No, we don't have a lot of money" is sung seven times in a row on "Free".
- Continuity Nod: Floaty Boatwood, the fictional lead in the "Toes" video, reappears in "Knee Deep".
- Epic Instrumental Opener: The album version of "Free" opens with a minute-long fiddle solo.
- Garfunkel: Averted. Although Zac is the lead vocalist and neither Chris nor Coy sings backing vocals, the band is known for playing all of its own instruments, with absolutely no studio musicians.
- Nice Hat: Zac's skullcap. One of the other members also wears a hat.
- Subdued Section: They love this trope:
- The third verse of "Chicken Fried" has just nylon-string guitar.
- The final verse of "Colder Weather". A cappella for the first two lines, and just piano for the rest.
- The midsection of "Keep Me in Mind" goes into a slower tempo, with just piano and synthesized strings.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Inverted in "Whiskey's Gone":
Well I stumble my way into my local bar
Where I saw the devil in my glass
The bartender told me it was time to go
I told him that he could lick my sack
- X Meets Y: One critic described the band as George Strait + Allman Brothers Band + Jimmy Buffett + Dave Matthews Band.