Country singer Jason Aldean has spoken out after his song ‘Try That In A Small Town’ has found itself in the midst of controversy after the release of its music video last week.
The track originally dropped in May, when it was met with little attention, but the music video’s setting and content have resulted in Country Music Television, a country music cable network in the States, pulling the video from the channel.
The video remains on YouTube, where it has amassed 4 million views.
The video shows Aldean performing in front of Maury County courthouse, located in Columbia, Tennessee, and is the site of a lynching of Henry Choate, a black man, in 1927, per The Guardian. This shot is mixed with footage depicting protests as being violent.
The lyrics of the song have also come under fire following the attention drawn to it after the release of the music video.
Lyrics facing criticism include: “Cuss out a cop, spit in his face / Stomp on the flag and light it up / Yeah, you think you’re tough / Well, try that in a small town / See how far you make it down the road / Around here, we take care of our own.”
As well as: “Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they’re gonna round up / Well, that s*** might fly in the city, good luck.”
However, on Tuesday, Aldean shared a post to Twitter dismissing the backlash.
“In the past 24 hour I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests,” he began.
“These references are not only meritless, but dangerous. There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it – and there isn’t a single clip that isn’t real news footage – and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music – this one goes too far.”
“As so many pointed out,” he continued, “I was present at Route 91 – where so many lost their lives – and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy. NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart.”
Aldean went on to explain his interpretation of the track.
“Try That In A Small Town, for me, refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbours, regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbours, and that was above any differences.
“My political views have never been something I’ve hidden from, and I know that a lot of us in this country don’t agree on how we get back to a sense of normalcy where we go at least one day without a headline that keeps us up at night. But the desire for it to – that’s what this song is about.”
Despite Aldean’s pushback against the controversy, the backlash has not stopped, with fellow country musician Sheryl Crow adding her voice to the debate.
“I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence,” she wrote on Twitter. “There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence. You should know that better than anyone having survived a mass shooting. This is not American or small town-like. It’s just lame.”
Crow refers to the Route-91 shooting that Aldean also mentioned in his statement. In 2017, Aldean was performing at the festival in Las Vegas when the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history occurred, leaving sixty people dead and 867 injured.