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“To me, this song summarizes the way a lot of people feel about the world right now. It seems like there are bad things happening on a daily basis, and that feels unfamiliar to a lot of us. This song sheds some light on that.”
However, when the music video was released in July, the award-winning country singer received significant backlash. Critics have accused the song of promoting gun violence and racism, some going so far as to call it “pro-lynching” due to the filming location, the Maury County Courthouse, being the site of numerous incidents of racial violence.
Country Music Television (CMT) pulled the music video from its lineup in response to the outcry against Aldean and the song.
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This week, Jason Aldean was a guest on the Wednesday episode of the Audacy podcast Coop’s Rockin’ Country Saturday Night where he addressed the viral song and video. The singer-songwriter felt compelled to release the song after observing what he felt was “wrong” in modern society.
“I don’t care which side of the political fence you want to stand on, but to me, what I was seeing was wrong, and nobody would say anything, especially in the music industry or entertainment industry,” Aldean said. “It just kind of reaches a breaking point to where you’re like, ‘Somebody needs to say something, and if nobody’s gonna do it, then I’ll be the guy.’”
Aldean defended his decision to include footage of the unrest that took place in 2020 in the video, saying:
“If you’ve got common sense, you can look at the video and see, I’m not sayin’ anything that’s not true… I’m showin’ you what happened — I didn’t do it, I didn’t create it — it just happened, and I saw it, and I’m not cool with it.”
During the conversation with host Coop, Aldean reflected that upon the initial release of the song, he felt that the biggest issue listeners had with the song was the mention of “having a gun that my grandfather gave me.” He adds that mentioning guns is a “no, no” in society right now.
However, in the wake of controversy following the release of the video, Aldean released the following statement on 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 protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.…
— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) July 18, 2023
Aldean remains steadfast in the opinion that people have made the song and the video “into something that it’s not.”
In stark contrast to the critics of “Try That In A Small Town,” maay fans rallied in support of Aldean. Hours after he released his statement, the song claimed the #1 spot on the all-genre iTunes chart. On July 24, “Try That In a Small Town” reached #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and one week later, landed at #1 on the All-Genre Hot 100 chart.
Billboard reported that “Try That In a Small Town” debuted “with the biggest sales week for a country song in over 10 years.”
Watch Jason Aldean’s music video for “Try That In a Small Town” below.