Written by Michael Casarez. 21 October 2014.
The album You Get What You Give by the Zac Brown Band, released in 2010, is an interesting album to say at the very least. During the economic downturn of the late 2000’s the Zac Brown Band came to the forefront of the country music scene bringing with them an inspiring new sound to enliven the hearts and minds of the people suffering from the economic troubles. You Get What You Give is a milestone in the careers of the members of the Zac Brown Band and serves as a reminder for the people that you can accomplish anything with a “quiet mind” and a positive attitude.
According to the article “Sweet Georgia Brown”, Zac Brown gained a massive amount of success after the release of his first album Foundations and he wanted to keep the momentum from that album going as long as he could, not just for him and his band but also because the people simply wanted more.
As the nation went into a recession in late 2008 and through the next three or four years many people lost or had to sacrifice a lot. The housing market took a huge fall because banks and investors were “cutting corners” in terms of the financial aspects and banks were loaning out more money than they had and thus people were borrowing more credit than they could actually handle. As a result, thousands of people and large businesses went bankrupt and people ended up unemployed and broke or simply just homeless. I think Zac Brown wanted to capture that negative energy from the pain and loss and turn it into a positive message that everyone could relate to on some level. Perhaps the title of the album is indicative of that sacrifice and loss that many people experienced while also appealing to the good nature of the band’s listeners.
An example of this is in the song “Martin”. In a line in the song Zac Brown says, “You get what you give; sometimes it’s just noise” which reaches out to the suffering people offering the message that you won’t always succeed in your endeavors but at least you tried.
Furthermore, Zac Brown seems to refer to himself as a bit of a philanthropist. He wants people to feel good and goes out of his way to do so in all aspects of his life including the live show aspect of their music.
Zac Brown also experienced what the nation was going through at this time. Earlier in his career he was playing music at local Georgia bars for 20 people at most and made almost nothing while struggling to keep a small family restaurant going and all the while providing for his young and still growing family.Point is, Zac Brown gets it and is attempting to make music that helps alleviate peoples stress, but he takes it a step further by trying to get people to understand that through his music, specifically this album, an age old, universal moral that literally what you give you will receive in return.
The songs “Quiet Your Mind” and “Who Knows” are perfect examples of this concept. They preach that you must be kind, determined, and strong and everything will be ok. During the economic recession many people did not know how to bounce back. People were losing their homes and families and this music provided them with a feel good vibe and a brief escape from their troubles. Like the newspaper article reads, “A feel good sound for hard times.”
On the other hand, with a new century, the turn of the decade, and a shift in people’s perception of the world around them Zac Brown Band stands poised to take over the country by storm with their blend of country, southern rock, island tunes and whatever else they are classified as.
According to the newspaper article “Zac Brown Band Gathers its Flock”, the band is drawing in fans of all tastes from all over the country and even overseas. After the release of their Grammy winning album Foundations people have noticed their enormous success, but their new album had people at the edge of their seat with anticipation, especially the existing country music industry.
And according to the newspaper article mentioned above, “Though the band’s sound differs from other country acts, Moore (a former agent for the band from a previous record label) says its one that’s familiar to the country audience.” The Zac Brown Band seems to be at the forefront of a shift in country music yet it’s familiar to the audience? Of course it is! It has the sounds of Charlie Daniels, Jimmy Buffet, James Taylor, Marshall Tucker Band, etc. just all blended together. They are bringing back old sounds to a new beat and it’s wildly popular and fresh for today’s audiences.
Many factors play into this, and as I said before a major shift in people’s perception of the world around them due to the ever changing state of affairs that has hold of our society today is probably a large part of having to do with the bands emergence as a positive force for change in the music industry. As Nashville was getting more predictable with its mass produced country sound with little progress being made this new album looked to yet again shatter the glass ceiling of country music just as their first album did.
Zac Brown cranks out hit after hit like “Knee Deep”and “Keep Me in Mind” but with originality and flare especially in terms of their live shows that are “four hour extravaganzas full of hits, extended solos, and cover tunes from a catalogue of ranges…” They are successfully bringing back old tunes but with enough of an original sound that it seems completely new which people seem to like as they like to reminisce the “good ole days” while simultaneously being eased into a new age both literally and metaphorically.
According to the article, they simply want to gather music lovers. They are country in nature but more than that they just love music and what it can do. They have set out to please people by appealing to what makes them happy and for many out there Zac Browns music seems to be just that.
In summation, the Zac Brown Band is a very unique musical group that not only help people in times of need via the soothing tunes of good music they also are changing the face of country music and the way people view their music. As Zac Brown puts it, “We love to play whether it’s for 50 or 15,000 people. If there’s people we need to win over, we bring them in, play for them, feed them.” Their album You Get What You Give is a good medium of escape in times of trouble and a solid representation of the rising caliber of the Zac Brown Band. Overall, as a certified platinum album it’s a home run for the band, a fun time for its audience, and progress in the shifting attitudes of the country music industry.
- “Let It Go” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette)
- “Knee Deep” ft. Jimmy Buffett (Z. Brown, W. Durrette, C. Bowles, J. Steele)
- “No Hurry” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette, J. Otto)
- “I Play the Road” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette, J.D. Hopkins)
- “Cold Hearted” (Z. Brown, N. Cowan)
- “Whiskey’s Gone” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette)
- “Quiet Your Mind” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette)
- “Colder Weather” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette, L. Lowrey, C. Bowles)
- “Settle Me Down” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette, C. Bowles)
- “As She’s Walking Away” ft. Alan Jackson (Z. Brown, W. Durrette)
- “Keep Me in Mind” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette, N. Cowan)
- “Who Knows” (Z. Brown, J. Williams)
- “Martin” (Z. Brown)
- “Make This Day” (Z. Brown, W. Durrette, N. Cowan)
Mansfield, Brian. “Zac Brown Band gathers its flock.” USA Today n.d.: Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
Waddell, Ray. “SWEET GEORGIA BROWN. (Cover Story).” Billboard 122.37 (2010): 16-19. Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.