Colder heart?

The origin story of one of Zac Brown’s biggest hits


Photo via Flickr (WEZL - Charleson) under Creative Commons license

Released on Dec. 20, 2010, “Colder Weather” swept the nation's radio. By incorporating personal hardship and experience in his music, Zac Brown proved again that Country music’s meaning goes much deeper than the typical thought of the genre.

James Hindy, Staff Writer

Country is a genre of music that is thought to only incorporate mud, four-wheel drive, booze, cornfields, and other Southern stereotypes. While critics may see nothing beyond these themes upon first glance, the cowboy-like setting is only a single paint stroke on the great canvas of country music.

While most people think country music uses the “dirt on your boots” mentality to pander to a Southern audience, many of the Western-styled songs encompass a deep meaning that listeners can directly relate to through personal hardship and prosperity. The Zac Brown Band song “Colder Weather” contains this level of depth.

We really liked each other, but the location of where she lived and my busy schedule made it difficult to see each other as often as we wanted. She wanted me to slow things down, but I wasn’t willing to do that because I was in the midst of living my dream.”

— lead singer Zac Brown

Although “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown isn’t a new release, it gives listeners a true depiction of what meaningful country is all about — in a soft and harmonizing way. A common misconception of country music is that there is no hidden meaning behind the lyrics, but this couldn’t be more wrong, and “Colder Weather” stands as evidence.

In the song “Colder Weather,” Zac Brown takes fans to the true story of a phone call he once had on a frigid night following a snowstorm in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the young musician was caught between the future of his blossoming career and a long distance relationship with a woman in Kansas at the time. Little did Brown know, the simple call between him and his girlfriend would lead to a life-altering decision: Zac chose his career over her.

In an interview with Taste of Country, Zac Brown, the lead singer of the Zac Brown Band and writer of “Colder Weather,” said, “We really liked each other, but the location of where she lived and my busy schedule made it difficult to see each other as often as we wanted. She wanted me to slow things down, but I wasn’t willing to do that because I was in the midst of living my dream.”

Lucky for the future of the relationship, Brown’s next stop was going to bring him right into the arms of his partner. However, mother nature had different plans for the Zac Brown Band and placed a crippling snowstorm right between of the two lovers. As a result of the road conditions,

“I called her to let her know we weren’t coming, and she wasn’t very happy about that. She really let me have it. After I hung up the phone, I went to the bus and started writing ‘Colder Weather’,” Brown said in the interview.

Photo via U.S. Air Forces Central Command (Master Sgt. Linda C. Miller) under Creative Commons license
Zac Brown wears his signature beanie alongside two of his fellow musicians. Ranging from “Colder Weather” to “Goodbye in Her Eyes,” the Zac Brown Band has created countless heartfelt songs that have topped country charts.

Inspired by his own experience, Brown crafted the song’s opening verse:

She’d trade Colorado if he’d take her with him

Closes the door before the winter lets the cold in,

And wonders if her love is strong enough to make him stay,

She’s answered by the tail lights

Shining through the window pane.

Here, the singer-songwriter incorporates a slow, melancholy piano to accompany his dismal tone. In this moment of his life, Brown must make the decision of having a successful career or loving another. The song continues with:

He said I wanna see you again,

But I’m stuck in colder weather

Maybe tomorrow will be better

Can I call you then

She said you’re ramblin’ man

You ain’t ever gonna change

You gotta gypsy soul to blame

And you were born for leavin.

The choice Zac had to make is presented here. Even though he knew what was at stake, there was only one choice Brown could make to secure his future. Cold weather did indeed keep Brown from his girl on that bitter night. Whether it be snow on the ground, or an ice storm brewing in his heart, the world will never know.

Country has melody with meaning, harmony that comforts the soul, and teaches many life lessons. Regardless of origin, each song is rich with a story of love, loss, and recovery. Although country may not be the most favored at the next football tailgate or prom night, it is undoubtedly the most relatable to people of all kinds.

While genres such as pop, rock, and the blues embody many of the similar themes incorporated in country, there is nothing like the homey, comforting harmony that Western-styled music provides.  With each song, the listener is immersed in a relaxing, relatable, yet deep mentality. Whether it be a person suffering a broken heart to a person making a life-altering decision in the thick Wisconsin snow, country incorporates very specific past experiences that can move listeners the way they need it most.