Zac Brown Band – “Toes”

Sam Gazdziak | August 10th, 2009


Given his lack of hits since the release of License to Chill, it’s safe to say that Jimmy Buffett’s latest attempt at a country music career has come to an end. But while he’s not getting played on radio anymore, his influence on country music is strong, with a wealth of Parrotheads following in his footsteps. Like it or not, there are probably more country artists who grew up singing “Margaritaville” than “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

Buffett has become the godfather of tropical escapism, but the one thing his followers haven’t always figured out is that it takes more than just singing about bars and beaches. Buffett’s a compelling storyteller with a knack for creating interesting characters that seem real. All too often, Kenny Chesney’s beach songs exist in a cheesy fantasy world where the beach goes on forever, the party never ends, and women are attracted to aging, balding frat boys instead of being creeped out by them.

A more realistic scenario is presented in Zac Brown Band’s “Toes,” which shines a light on one important truth: The good times will last exactly as long as the money holds out.

Brown, who’s riding a nice wave of commercial success after building an audience through live shows and self-released albums, sounds in his element here. His nylon-string guitar playing is a nice touch, giving the song the right touch of the tropics without seeming heavy-handed.

The song aptly describes the highs and lows one experiences on a vacation, from “Thank God I’m out of the city” and “I’m never going back home” to “Crap, vacation’s almost over” and finally “I’ll just have make the best of it at home.” Given the carefree, breezy nature of the song, it’s hard to take the lyrics to task for being too silly in places–the “care-o/dinero” rhyme near the end of the song did stretch the limits of my generosity, though.

It’s a bit of a risky song to release as a single, seeing as how it has some PG-13 language and a recreational drug use reference. If radio can make it past that (or a bleeped-out radio edit), this is actually the perfect time to release this song as a single. Everyone who spent a week or two on vacation with the family within the last couple months is now firmly back in the work grind, with the kids starting school soon and summer coming to an end. “Toes” is a good way to relive some of the memories while admitting that all good things to have to come to an end.

Thumbs Up

  1. Karlie
    August 10, 2009 at 8:10 am

    I heard it on the radio for the first time yesterday, and the edit isn’t so terrible–“I got my toes in the water/Toes in the sand.”

  2. Nicolas
    August 10, 2009 at 8:15 am

    I hate the Zac Brown Band… their first two singles were horrible, so Idk if I can even be driven to give their third single a chance xD

  3. Kelly
    August 10, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I love the band and love this song. I’ve tried to figure out why I like this song and hate much of Chesney’s beach-themed stuff, outside of the fact that I prefer ZBB’s overall body of work to Chesneys (granted there is a sizable difference in the amount of work). I do also dig that the song is a full-circle, somewhat realistic sceanrio where he comes back from the beach and admits that he is pretty happy with simple pleasures and life at hime also…

  4. JD
    August 10, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Heaven forfuckinbid we offend someone with the word “ass”.

  5. Shawn Palmer
    August 10, 2009 at 9:59 am

    The video is really great. Check it out too.

  6. Mike Parker
    August 10, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I heard the radio version and thought the edit sounded funny. Almost like they didn’t bother redoing the vocal, but just cut the first toes and copied it over ass. As far as beach country goes, I think this is pretty good.

  7. Matt B.
    August 10, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Interesting. So they took out “Ass” and couldn’t have said “butt” instead? Strange. Didn’t they also edit out “Roll a big fat one?”

  8. Mike Parker
    August 10, 2009 at 11:00 am

    no… roll a big fat one is still there on my station. I thought that was a bit odd too.

  9. Baron Lane
    August 10, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Render unto Buffet what is Buffet’s and heres to the end of his faddish impact in country music.

  10. Karlie
    August 10, 2009 at 11:20 am

    The radio version I heard blurred out the “big fat one” part, which I always think just calls more attention to it–like when they garbled out “cocaine” on Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow’s “Picture.”

  11. Mayor Jobob
    August 10, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    in that song “These are my people”, I like the edit better when he says busting our backs instead of asses. It just sounds forced. This song works as well.

  12. Jammin' Jamey
    August 10, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I have been a huge ZBB supporter since they broke through nationally last summer with “Chicken Fried”. “Toes” is another awesome refreshing song by them. Our radio station is playing the album version, although I had drawbacks about the “roll a big fat one” reference over-the-air.

    What kills me about the word ass is when artist/songwriters just use the word for a cool factor or throw it around. ZBB uses ass to describe what they’re doing, not using it to catch attention or come off cool like Eric Church would.

  13. TenPoundHammer
    August 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Bob Kingsley’s countdown played the album version, complete with the ass and the fat one. (Wasn’t that a TV show with William Conrad?)

  14. Matt B.
    August 10, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Perhaps radio stations are choosing whether or not to play the parts depending on what they perceive their audience’s sensibilities to be.

  15. Will
    August 10, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I know “Ass” isn’t offensive to the masses, but for those of us trying to raise a 3 year old, country radio is one of our last safe places to listen to music and not teach our children shit they don’t need to learn yet

  16. Matt B.
    August 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    And writing the word ‘shit’ on a comment thread isn’t? I mean if you write those kind of words on a message board, you may think you never say it around your kids but do it in another room, I ASSURE you that you are teaching them things “they don’t need to learn yet.”

  17. Chris N.
    August 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I know “shit” isn’t offensive to the masses, but for those of us who might someday have kids, The 9513 is one of our last safe places to read about music and not teach our children things they don’t need to learn yet

  18. Mayor Jobob
    August 10, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    take that trash talk to youtube. It’s a free-for-all! :)

  19. Kelly
    August 10, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    dang da dang dang

  20. Rick
    August 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    “Ass” is such an innocuous word that its idiotic that AirHead Country radio censors it! I don’t care if little children are listening in with their soccer moms as mommy just needs to explain its a slang term for butt that some people find offensive. I think of the word “ass” every time the topic of Top 40 mainstream country radio programmers is mentioned (and Obama too), so I don’t see what the big deal is! (lol) The wussyfication of Top 40 country radio is part of the reason the genre has become so schlocky as its “feminine side” is about the only side that’s left. Pathetic…

  21. Matt B.
    August 10, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Rick, Rick, Rick…never cease to tie Obama into a discussion….

  22. Matt B.
    August 10, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Also, w/o the ‘feminine side’ of Top 40, where would you get all those pretty gals you always talk about?

  23. Steve Harvey
    August 10, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I’m thoroughly bemused by the popularity of the Zac Brown Band, but this song isn’t bad (actually, you could say that about the entire record. Not bad).

    The censorship of this song is childish and ridiculous. Is there any other radio format that would feel the need to alter something so innocuous?

  24. Zach
    August 10, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    did radio censor “boot in your ass” when Toby’s “Courtesy…” made its radio run? just curious…

  25. Matt B.
    August 10, 2009 at 6:51 pm


    No they didn’t to my recollection.

  26. Sam G.
    August 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Country stations barely played “Skinny Dippin'” by Whitney Duncan, and that song just had “tush” in the chorus. Don’t expect country radio to make the evolutionary leap from tush to ass in a month.

  27. Brian
    August 10, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Sounds like some of you (Matt B) are not parents

  28. Stormy
    August 10, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    But how much of her lack of airplay was due to the word tush and how much was due to their already being an over glut of sucky blondes in country?

  29. Matt B.
    August 10, 2009 at 9:07 pm


    I’m just a realist about words and also the fact that kids will and do know what words mean. That doesn’t mean they should be taught to use certain words as ‘everyday language,’ which the “S word” most certainly falls under. But ‘ass?’ Puh-leez.

  30. Noeller
    August 10, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I’m a firm believer that Zac Brown Band is the heir to Alabama’s mighty throne. Rascal Flatts have embarrassed the legacy long enough, and the tight musicianship and well written lyrics of Zac Brown are here to take over.

    While “Toes” is certainly not the deepest song in their library, it makes for yet another successful single at radio (I’ve added the album cut to my station, but we’re not as uptight here in Canada) and really is the perfect song for this time of year.

    There is some incredibly powerful stuff on “The Foundation” and I have no doubt there will be even more with the follow up which is currently being written.

    Zac Brown, Eric Church, Jamey Johnson and Lee Ann Womack give me reason to even bother listening to Country Music these days – thank God for them!!

  31. Jaime
    August 10, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Who cares about the ass factor? :) Great song with a great vibe.

  32. Rick
    August 11, 2009 at 1:32 am

    I still shake my head that most radio stations deleted the word ass as the last word in Ray Scott’s “My Kind Of Music”! I’d like to tell all those station managers and programmers that for doing that they too can kiss my ass! Sheesh! (lol)

  33. Debbie
    August 11, 2009 at 8:37 am

    My local radio station still deletes ass from Toby’s Angry American song. Replaces it with a cannon firing.

  34. Leeann Ward
    August 11, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Interestingly, when I wrote the review for this song at CU, we had to write “a**” in order for it not to be automatically filtered for some people’s computers while it was on the front page (we changed it back to “ass” once it left the front page though). However, “whore”, which I included in the same review, could stay as it was. To me, “whore” is far more offensive than “ass.” I agree that “Shit” does sound harsher, but I don’t know why it is actually worse, since the meaning is just as innocuous. .

  35. Brian
    August 11, 2009 at 10:08 am


    Look I get your point of view but it’s a parent’s right to try and control how their kids are introduced to any kind of questionable word or material. “Ass” isn’t a big deal word to me either, but I can understand why it would be for some parents. When I was little I was allowed to watch The Simpsons but I had friends whose parents didn’t allow them to watch.

    I think the argument you presented is kind of lame though in that a parent writing “shit” on a message board doesn’t automatically nullify their position. It also doesn’t mean they use it in front of their kids.

    That all being said- I live near the Philadelphia country music station and they play the song with the word “ass” left in.

  36. Leeann Ward
    August 11, 2009 at 10:30 am

    “I know “Ass” isn’t offensive to the masses, but for those of us trying to raise a 3 year old, country radio is one of our last safe places to listen to music and not teach our children shit they don’t need to learn yet.”

    If someone really wants to be honest, though, a word like “ass” is no more inappropriate for children than songs about cheating and drinking , which is traditionally a big part of country music. Do they need to be learning that yet? I don’t really think country music is or ever has been a safe place for kids either.:)

  37. Jim Malec
    August 11, 2009 at 10:36 am

    You don’t realize how ridiculous censoring the word “ass” is until you’ve lived in Europe and seen 16 year olds drinking in bars. That, and heard them play uncensored Eminem on the radio.

    Seriously, if you think “ass” is going to taint your child’s mind, you should go spend a few hours in an American grade school. Seriously, you’d shudder at the language.

  38. Steve Harvey
    August 12, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    By the time I had started high school, I was familiar with every formation of every expletive in the English language, none of which I’d picked up from the radio.

    And I think songs about alcoholism, murder and adultery are far more worrisome for children to hear than the word ‘ass’.

  39. Stormy
    August 13, 2009 at 6:42 am

    By the time I was in junior high school I was well versed in songs about alcoholism, adultrey and murder.

  40. nash
    August 13, 2009 at 7:31 am

    i love that the “reviewer” thinks this song is better than kenny chesney’s “cheesy” beach-themed and jimmy buffett inspired country.

    in fact, i would argue that zac brown’s “toes” isn’t even that original. . .

    “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
    Cold beer in my hand”

    that looks eerily similar to:

    “Suntanned toes tickling the sand
    Cold drink chillin’ in my right hand”

    aren’t those lines pretty much a blatant paraphrase?

  41. Fadi H.
    August 13, 2009 at 7:58 am

    ‘If someone really wants to be honest, though, a word like “ass” is no more inappropriate for children than songs about cheating and drinking’

    Can’t agree more! I love how people make life so damn complicated and how people working in radios are too bored that they make a huge deal about ass. i mean ass is part of the human body!! If you wanna censor anything that might “corrupt: a child, taylor swift and miley cyrus are the only people who should be allowed on the radio. but then again, you will be teaching your children to appreciate bad music…mmm, dilemma!!


  42. carlos
    August 29, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    if ass is no permited on a song that means you have to use :my rear end :instead of ass

  43. Liz
    September 30, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    it’s not caro/dinero. the lyric goes: The senoritas no quiero when there’s no dinero

    Quiero is (pretty much) spanish for to want. and dinero is spanish for money.

  44. zbbfan
    October 9, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I looove Zac Brown Band..
    they’re playing in Atl at the end of this month with Kid Rock and Kellie Pickler, can’t wait!

  45. Bill
    November 12, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Liz: It actually is “care-o”. “Quiero” is the first-person present form of “querer” (the infinitive, meaning “to want”), so it’s actually translated more properly as “I want”. (The “yo”, meaning “I”, is optional.) To translate your version of the lyric so that it’s all English, it would be, “The young ladies I do not want when there’s no money,” which doesn’t strike me as the thought that he’d want to convey.

    Also, he rolls the “r” in that word, so it would be spelled with an “rr” instead of just a single “r”. (This isn’t strong evidence, as I caught him rolling an r or two in “señorita”, as well.)

    One last thought on this topic: “Quiero” doesn’t fit with the rhythm the way he sings the lyrics; He’d need to back “no quiero” up a half-beat or a beat in order to make way for the extra syllable that “quiero” (“key-AIR-oh”) has when compared to “care-o”. Google the lyrics, and they agree: “The señoritas don’t care-o if there’s no dinero / I got no money to stay.”

    One last thought on the broader subject: I don’t understand the tempest in the teapot about “ass;” as other people have pointed out, there are plenty of other songs played with that word uncensored. “Gonna lay in the hot sun and roll a big fat one” is worse, but it’s still acceptable by the standards of Hank Jr’s “Family Tradition” (“Hank, why do you roll smoke?”) or Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” (“And we were tryin’ different things, and we were smokin’ funny things”). And is singing about sitting on one’s ass really worse than destroying someone’s property (“Before He Cheats”–seriously, would anybody, man OR woman, be applauding this song if the gender roles were reversed?) or taking their life (“Goodbye Earl”–although I think it’s justified in this case)?

  46. Dave
    December 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Being of a fairly religious, fairly conservative mind, I have to agree with the comments about raising children and having the right to keep them sheltered from the storm as long as possible.
    Just because you know they hear it in school daily, doesn’t mean that you should accept it as commonplace and allow them to hear it on the radio, in the grocery store, or anywhere else they go.

    Am I such a prude that I can’t handle hearing, reading, writing, or saying ‘ass’? No, but I’m not ready to let my kids make it a part of their everyday language. They can make that choice on their own someday, but not just yet under my roof.

    I say “Bravo!” to stations that recognize the moral/social responsibility of censorship. No one will stop you from buying the CD, or downloading it to your mp3 player if you want to hear the album version.

    All that said, even being a religious guy, songs like this one and for some reason, Toby’s ‘I Love This Bar’ still catch me tapping my foot and wanting to sing with it. Even when it’s not a lifestyle I live or condone. Just something about the song that I really like.

  47. Jacqueline
    January 29, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Well, I like the Toes/toes version.

    I think the zac brown lyrics are saying that the Seniorita’s don’t care about you if you have no money, or they don’t want you if you have no money. As the latin boys I work with say when I hand them their paycheck…no money, no honey.

    Writing an explicative on your computer is not the same thing as talking that way in front of your kids. And, kids will pick up cuss words off the radio. As far as adult themes of adultery, cheating, and alcoholism, all kids do not pick that up off the radio. …at least not small kids. As you get older, you begin to pick it up. However, I think a lot of it is innuendo or worded in such a way that kids don’t pick it up until they get a little older. Certainly, it will be over a 3 year-old’s head. Hip hop, yeah, there is no censorship in hip hop and that is one reason why I would never play any of that around a child. Heck, I don’t even like it. Maybe sometime in grade school I picked up some cuss words, but I sure didn’t know them when I was three. I can see a 9 or 10 year-old pick them up. I just think, the longer we avoid exposure to cuss words, the less likely they are to creep in as regular speech. I remember cussing some in middle school or high school. I used it for emphasis since. However, I also remember going to school with kids that use a cuss word almost every word out of their mouth. This is something I don’t want. Yeah, you can mess something up and say you f’ed up. You can scream s’t when you drop something on your toe. I just don’t think cuss words need to be a part of regular conversation. The earlier you learn them, the more it seems they come out. I personally knew a 3 year-old who was already cussing. It’s a shame. He didn’t pick it up off the radio, though. His mom used that language.

    As far as the big fat one, until I got to high school, I thought “Puff” was a dragon. So, unless you’re rolling big fat ones in front of your little kids, they won’t necessarily understand what that means.

    It wouldn’t be my concern that a kid never picks up foul language, but I wouldn’t want my 2 year-old nephew picking it up and I definitely would want them to understand that it isn’t nice language before they start spitting the word out constantly.

  48. Jeff Hamlin
    March 17, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I really think the censorship is rather silly. They bleep out “ass” and “roll a big fat one”, yet leave all the references to drinking? Even this baptist has to laugh, LOL.

  49. Henry
    May 12, 2010 at 9:11 am

    must just be the states, in Afghanistan they dont bleep out words like ass, and roll a big fat one.

  50. Barbara
    July 3, 2010 at 3:38 am

    I don’t care about the word ass.I want to know what a word means in a song.It’s off TOES what does the word( gaguer) (gagger) mean I know I probably misspelled it.My husband has heard it in a song and no one seems to know what it means.He just loves that song .

  51. desiree
    August 20, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    i have nothing good to say about the music by the band zac brown, however, i do have to say that he needn’t do another cover song EVER! i just recently posted a lyric of the song “jolene” by RAY LAMONTAGNE and a friend asked me if that was the song by the zac brown band and i was taken aback. i didn’t know that they did a cover version of it and most everyone that listens to ZBB thought that it was one of their originals. they need to make it clear when they’ve done a cover of a song. and as for their cover of “come pick me up” by ryan adams. cold, butchering, horrible. my ears literally felt as if they were about to start bleeding. i do NOT like ZBB, quite frankly my dear, i don’t give a damn about them.

  52. Stormy
    August 20, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Barbara: Jaeger. Pronounced Yagger. Short for Jagermeister. It is a really horrible form of liquer, often found near frat guys. There is a new drink called Jaeger Bombs that is basically a Boilermaker with Jaeger playing the whiskey and Red Bull playing the beer. Its really trendy right now. Two really awful drinks for the price of one!

  53. Jon
    August 20, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Jaegermeister is a German digestif, or bitters liquer , made with several dozen different herbs, that is held to promote digestion. This class of drinks, especially popular in countries like Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, tends to be an acquired taste, at least when taken on their own. Personally, I’m happy to have acquired it – although my favorite isn’t Jaegermeister, but rather Appenzeller Alpenbitter ( ) . Yum!

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