One of Zac Brown Band's biggest songs is the band's 2008 single "Chicken Fried," but it turns out the track was almost recorded by another artist. Zac Brown Band frontman Zac Brown wrote "Chicken Fried" with Wyatt Durrette in the early 2000s, and it was later recorded and released as a radio single in 2006 by Georgia country group the Lost Trailers. Brown asked that the song be taken off the radio, as it was recorded with the understanding that it would not be a single, and Alan Jackson expressed interest in recording the gratitude-filled track.
Jackson recalled his producer, Keith Stegall, playing him "Chicken Fried" before Zac Brown Band had a record deal. "I liked the song," Alan told The Boot. "But I told [Stegall], 'Man, I just had a song about cornbread and chicken, and I had a song about bologna. Every album I've got has these songs about food, so I just don't think I want to do one about chicken fried right now.' In retrospect, I should have done it." Zac Brown Band's version of the song was the first single from their album The Foundation and became their first chart single and their first No. 1 on the Billboard country charts. It has since been certified 6x Platinum by the RIAA.
Brown and Durrette wrote the song around the time of the September 11 attacks, which made its lyrics especially meaningful. "[Durrette] had a piece called 'Chicken Fried' that he had written a long time ago. He sang it to me, and I thought it could be a really good song," Brown told The Boot of the song's origin. "We made a list of things that mattered to us and then things that are characteristic of the South. We put every one of those things on that list in the song."
"It was right around September 11. I was living with a Marine friend of mine," he continued. "I was realizing how fortunate we are to be free, travel and to play music or whatever it is that you do as an American that there is a cost that other people have paid for us to be able to do those things and enjoy all the simple things. That's where the patriotic line of the song came from. Sometimes all of the little things get taken for granted, and you forget about them. They're the most important things in life. It was a reminder to myself and a reminder to everybody else to not take the little things for granted, or the simple pleasures that really matter."