The release of Jason Aldean's music video for his song "Try That in a Small Town" has sparked controversy, with prominent figures like fellow musician Sheryl Crow joining the chorus of criticism. The video was shot in front of a courthouse in Colombia, Tennessee, where a Black man was lynched in the 1920s, raising concerns about its troubling imagery and lyrics.
The song's lyrics have been widely accused of promoting gun violence, but Aldean has vehemently denied these claims. Despite his denials, the video's content has led to its removal from CMT due to its offensive portrayal of violent protests juxtaposed with Aldean's performance on the steps of the courthouse.
Crow took to Twitter to express her disapproval of the music video and its message. Being from a small town herself, she argued that even residents of such communities are fed up with violence.
Crow addressed Aldean directly, highlighting the contradiction in promoting violence while representing small-town America. She reminded him of his own experience surviving a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, which claimed the lives of 60 people and left hundreds injured.
"I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence. 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."
You can see her tweet below.
Many have praised Crow for speaking out.
In response to the accusations, Aldean defended himself on Twitter, rejecting the label of a "pro-lynching song" and dismissing claims that the song incites violence. He emphasized that the song had been released in May and gained attention only after the controversial music video's debut.
The music video, featuring the Tennessee courthouse with a history of lynching, coupled with lyrics advocating confrontation with demonstrators, has drawn sharp criticism.
Still, Aldean wrote:
"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."
"As so many pointed out, 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 attempted to reinterpret "Try That in a Small Town" as a song reflecting the sense of "community" he experienced growing up, emphasizing the unity among neighbors, regardless of differences.
However, critics argue that the video's content and messaging overshadow any intended positive interpretation at a time when many around the nation are pushing for comprehensive gun control measures in response to a spate of increasingly common mass shootings.