Jason Aldean defends controversial hit: ‘I’m not saying anything that’s not true’

Jason Aldean defends controversial hit: ‘I’m not saying anything that’s not true’

Country artist Jason Aldean has hit back against criticism of his controversial hit, “Try That in a Small Town”.

Originally released in May, the song ignited furore among listeners after Aldean, 46, dropped the accompanying music video on 14 July, which featured images of protestors fighting with police officers.

After being accused of “promoting violence”, the video was quickly pulled from rotation on Country Music Television, though the broadcaster did not provide a reason for its decision.

Critics have also called the song “racist” and a “lynching anthem” after learning that the music video was filmed outside the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where 18-year-old Black teenager Henry Choate was lynched in 1927.

Appearing on the Coop’s Rockin’ Country Saturday Night podcast on Wednesday (18 October), Aldean said was “not saying anything that’s not true” in the song.

“Country music is blue-collar music, man, it’s for the everyman. I’ve got eyes, I can see what’s going on,” Aldean said. “I don’t care which side of the political fence you want to stand on.”

The musician said critics had made “the song and the video into something that it’s not”, adding: “If you’ve got common sense, you can look at the video and see, I’m not sayin’ anything that’s not true.”

Jason Aldean (Getty Images)
Jason Aldean (Getty Images)

Of those who had supported the track, he said: “To see the response and the way people rallied around that song and video was pretty amazing, actually.”

Despite the fallout, the song debuted at No 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart (a record high for Aldean) and No 1 on the Hot Cuntry Songs chart.

The track has also been criticised for its allusion to gun ownership and use. Aldean was a performer at Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas in 2017, where a shooter killed 60 people and injured 400. The incident is the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in American history.

The lyrics to “Try That in a Small Town”, which Aldean did not write, include: “Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk / Carjack an old lady at a red light / Pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store.

“Well, try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road / Around here, we take care of our own.”

Aldean responded to the backlash he received shortly after the video was shared, writing on X/Twitter: “In the past 24 hours 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 [Black Lives Matter] protests.

“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 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 neighbours, regardless of differences of background or belief.”