On July 14, country singer Jason Aldean announced the release of the music video for his song “Try That in a Small Town.” Aldean elaborated on the message he hoped to convey in the new single in a Twitter post that day: “When u grow up in a small town, it’s that unspoken rule of ‘we all have each other’s backs and we look out for each other.’ It feels like somewhere along the way, that sense of community and respect has gotten lost. Deep down we are all ready to get back to that.”
Aldean expressed hope that his “new music video helps y’all know that u are not alone in feeling that way.” The song features lyrics summarizing the deadly violence cities across the United States experienced following the death of George Floyd in police custody in 2020 when over 20 people were killed in violent protests and the destruction to people's homes, small businesses, and police and federal buildings caused billions of dollars in damage.
As Aldean sings in the video, b-roll of news reports showing the violence that ensued is seen in the background. The title of the song, “Try That in a Small Town” suggests that such violent protests would not have the ability to cause the same level of damage in small towns because the culture is different.
At one point in the song, Aldean sings, “I got a gun that my granddad gave me” and “around here, we take care of our own/ You cross that line, it won’t take long/ For you to find out, I recommend you don’t.” The implication behind the lyrics is that residents of small towns would be much quicker to crack down on any attempts to engage in deadly violent riots, including by using force if necessary.
The song concludes with footage of a news report featuring a profile of people in a small town helping each other, with one man summarizing the culture in the locality as “if somebody needs some help, you’ll get it.”
The single quickly found itself subject to a rash of negative publicity after Ashton Pittman of the Mississippi Free Press shared a post on Twitter last week declaring that “Jason Aldean shot this at the site where a white lynch mob strung Henry Choate up at the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., after dragging his body through the streets with a car in 1927.”
Jason Aldean shot this at the site where a white lynch mob strung Henry Choate up at the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., after dragging his body through the streets with a car in 1927.— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) July 17, 2023
That's where Aldean chose to sing about murdering people who don't respect police. https://t.co/gBL7FlaBS2pic.twitter.com/eGfmMc8HAI
“That’s where Aldean chose to sing about murdering people who don’t respect police,” Pittman added.
As Billboard reported, the cable channel CMT, which regularly airs music videos, pulled the video from its lineup while not providing a reason why. CMT’s actions don't appear to have dented the song’s popularity. As of Monday afternoon, the “Try That in a Small Town” music video has 16 million views on YouTube and is No. 1 on trending for music.
In a statement to Entertainment Tonight, Tacklebox, the production company behind the music video, identified the Maury County Courthouse as a “popular filming location outside Nashville.” Examples of other projects filmed at the Maury County Courthouse cited by Tacklebox include the Lifetime original movie “Steppin’ Into the Holiday,” the Paramount movie “A Nashville Family Christmas,” and the “Hannah Montana” film.
As the song comes under fire, several public figures have come to Aldean's defense in the wake of the outrage and the singer himself has weighed in on the controversy.
Here's a list of five reactions to the backlash over the song “Try That in a Small Town.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org