It was the most controversial song of the year (at least until Oliver Anthony came along).
Jason Aldean drew quite a bit of criticism for his song “Try That In A Small Town” – or more accurately, for the music video.
The song, which calls out big city lawlessness, was released back in May, and didn’t really receive much attention until Jason dropped a music video featuring scenes of rioting and looting along with video of Jason performing in front of the Maury County courthouse in his hometown of Columbia, Tennessee.
After releasing the music video, many on the left began criticizing the song as “racist” and pointing out that the courthouse featured in the video was the site of a public lynching in 1927.
Everyone from Maren Morris to Sheryl Crow and Sierra Ferrell jumped in to call out Aldean, and CMT pulled the music video from its rotation during the one hour a day that CMT apparently still shows music videos at 3 AM in between reruns of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and Last Man Standing.
Many others, including presidential candidates like former President Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy, along with artists like Travis Tritt, Cody Johnson and Brantley Gilbert, and even George Jones’ wife Nancy, defended Jason Aldean and the song from accusations that it had anything to do with race.
The song took off amid the controversy, rocketing to the top of the iTunes chart and the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart, despite failing to gain any real traction before the video was released.
At the time, Jason released a statementcalling the accusations “meritless” and “dangerous,” while pointing out that nothing in the song mentions race:
“There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it- and there isn’t a single video 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…
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 neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbors, 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 a day without a headline that keeps us up at night. But the desire for it to- that’s what this song is about.”
And Jason recently sat down with the Big D and Bubba morning radio show, where he discussed his thoughts on the backlash he received to the song:
“All the stuff that happened with that song was definitely something I didn’t expect. I thought the song would start a conversation, which is what I hoped it would do.
Because I think anybody that looks at what has gone on with our country the last few years – and really open-mindedly looks at it with some common sense – it’s like, ‘Man, this is wild. This is really crazy.’ And I dunno, I’m just not OK with that.”
But Jason said he doesn’t see the song as “left wing” or “right wing” – it’s simply an issue of right and wrong:
“It doesn’t matter if you’re left or right, right is right and wrong is wrong. Period. In my mind, that’s how I look at it.”
And he says that the criticism was a result of people seeing what they wanted to see to justify their outrage and their own point of view:
“If you want to hear it, understand it, and get it, you’re going to, and if you don’t want to get it and you want to draw some other conclusion because it makes you feel better about the way you think, then that’s what you’re gonna do.
If that’s the case, you’re never gonna see my point. So, there’s no point in me arguing with you.”
Jason also points out what he sees as another problem with the political conversation in our country that led to the backlash against the song:
“Ten years ago a song like that would have been applauded. Now, everybody is so easily triggered by anything these days, whatever side you’re on…People are just so sensitive to everything now. It’s like if you say anything, people lose their minds.”
And he laughed when talking about the reaction to the courthouse used as the backdrop for the music video:
“The courthouse they made such a big deal about…it was like, ‘Dude, that’s my county courthouse. That’s where I go to get my car tags.’
It’s five minutes from my house, which is why we filmed it there was for convenience. Obviously, everyone is going to make up their own stories about whatever. It was just wild.”
But overall, he says he’s proud of the song and the video for standing up for what he believes in:
“I love the song. I was really excited to cut that song. It’s been a long time since I cut a video that I was excited about and thought that actually meant something.
For that reason, I was extremely proud of the song, the video, and proud of what it’s done. If somebody saw something other than what I was trying to say in there, then, I don’t know, maybe go watch it again.”
You can watch his entire interview and discussion on the controversy here: