In a recent interview with CBS This Morning, Zac Brown confirmed what fans of the song “Leaving Love Behind” suspected: His divorce from his wife of 12 years, Shelly, inspired some of the music on the recent Zac Brown Band release The Owl and Brown’s critically panned solo album The Controversy.

"You know, [there are] lots of things that you don't ever foresee," Brown said when asked about the buildup to and fallout from his divorce. "But you know, when you live in something long enough that it's not working anymore, and that the differences that are there are greater, and that it's healthier to not live in conflict than it is to try to stay. And no matter how many mistakes, or whatever -- and she absolutely was the one. And, you know, we have five amazing, beautiful children together. And that was the reason that we were together.

"It's not how I planned it to be," Brown admits. "But it gave me more than I could've ever dreamed of having, you know?"

Brown and his wife, who met through a mutual friend and had been married since 2006, announced their separation in October of 2018. At the time, they explained via a statement, "Sometimes the journey begins to lead in different directions." Their children are 12-year-old Justice, 11-year-old Lucy, 9-year-old Georgia, 8-year-old Joni and 5-year-old Alexander.

The Zac Brown Band's music has often reached far over the "country" genre line, not just since his divorce. According to Brown, the musical twists and turns and the variety of collaborators heard in his band's recent music and his solo work reflect his chase of something more real to him than subjective genre labels.

"I think it's important to be vulnerable, and be yourself, and just be real,” he says. “I don't want to be around things that aren't real anymore. I'm trying to engineer my life for things that have soul, and things that I create. Some of 'em are fun. And then some of the things are like me bleeding my soul, and my life, and my hardship out in a song."

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