Meaning of “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band

There was a time, circa the early 2010s, when the Zac Brown Band was really poppin’. For instance their second album, “The Foundation”, a project that was introduced to store shelves on 18 November 2008, proved to be a multi-platinum success. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Zac Brown Band's Chicken Fried at

That LP was backed by Big Picture Records, Atlantic Nashville and Zac Brown’s own label, Home Grown (aka Southern Ground). And its lead single was “Chicken Fried”, a song which itself has been certified platinum six times over by the RIAA (as of 2018), in addition to having topped Billboard’s US Hot Country Songs chart. 

This track also won an Academy of Country Music Award (Best New Vocal Duo or Group) and a CMT Music Award (USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year) both in 2009 and historically marks the Zac Brown Band’s first single and earliest hit.


Zac Brown, a country singer from the ATL, is known primarily as the co-founder and frontman of the Zac Brown Band, which he formed in 2003. Besides being a singer, he also plays guitar and banjo, the former of which he began playing at eight years old. 

Also to note, Zac attended the University of West Virginia before making it as a musician but apparently didn’t graduate. However, the institution did grant him an honorary degree in mid-2023, just a couple of weeks prior to this writing.

It is also Zac who co-wrote and co-produced “Chicken Fried”. He completed the former task alongside Wyatt Durrette. The two of them began writing the song years prior to its eventual released, with the band first recording it in 2003. And the other co-producer of this track is Keith Stegall.


Their earlier versions of this song than the release mentioned above. “Chicken Fried” can also be found on the Zac Brown Band’s debut LP, 2005’s “Home Grown”, which, as implied by its title, was a self-release.  And shortly thereafter, in 2006, another outfit known as The Lost Trailers dropped their own rendition, which was on its way to becoming a hit until Zac forced them to remove it from radio due to a prior agreement the parties had made.

Somewhere along the line, legendary country singer Alan Jackson also took a liking to “Chicken Fried”.  But he opted out of taking the song on, due to already having recently dropped a couple of other food-related songs, including one “about cornbread and chicken”

But that said, unlike his treatment of The Lost Trailers, according to Brown he wouldn’t have had any qualms if Jackson had come out with a version of “Chicken Fried” and reportedly even pitched it to him.

Feathered Indians


And as for the title of this song, it does in fact point to the vocalist’s affinity for fried chicken. But this being a country song and all, that observation can ultimately be taken as a symbolic one. That is to say that Zac uses the opportunity of this track to delineate various aspects of Southern culture, besides the titular treat being one of its staple dishes, that he, a Georgia native, enjoys. 

And this is not only food-wise but more importantly the “peace of mind” which residing in such a backdrop affords. In other words, this is another one of those songs that depicts a traditional country lifestyle, if you will, as an idyllic one – a place where the grub is good, beer is effective, and the likes of romance and family still mean something.

The third verse, however, was written sometime after the first two. More specifically, it was inspired by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the fact that Brown was residing with a Marine at the time.

The main sentiment behind the third verse, according to Zac’s own words, is an appreciation of the US armed forces for the freedoms they have secured for citizens of the country. Or as Zac Brown inferred, the reason that Americans are able to “enjoy all the simple things” in life, such as some of those mentioned in this song presumably, is due to the sacrifices of and ideology behind the US military.

“To a little bit of chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up
Well I’ve seen the sun rise
See the love in my woman’s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother’s love”

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