The controversy around “Try That in a Small Town” by Jason Aldean

Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” music video features imagery of Black Lives Matter marches, violence, and criminality.

1. “Try That in a Small Town” MV features Black Lives Matter imagery

Although Aldean debuted the song in May, the video only recently became viral on YouTube.
At least some of the footage in the movie was shot at Black Lives Matter protests in response to police deaths of unarmed black men and boys. A convenience store heist and other alleged crimes are depicted in other clips.

These are intercut with scenes of Aldean and his band performing in Columbia, Tennessee’s central square (population: 45,000).

Singing, “Cuss out a cop, spit in his face/Stomp on the flag and light it up/Yeah, ya think you’re tough,” and, “Cuss out a cop, spit in his face/Stomp on the flag and light it up/Ye

If you’re searching for a battle, “Try that in a small town full of good ol’ boys, raised up right.”

The film ends with a brief montage of blurry footage showing tranquil folks going about their daily lives with their crops and families.

2. A lynching occurred in front of the Maury County Courthouse

The film is set in downtown Columbia, which has a history of violence against Black people, which has been cited as evidence of racism by some critics.

During his concert, Aldean uses the Maury County Courthouse as a background, which is often made to look like it’s on fire with the use of projections of burning American flags. It was in this very building in 1927 when mobster Henry Choate, then 18, was hung from the balcony. The teen’s mother had pleaded the mob to allow her son stand trial after he was accused of assaulting a White girl who never positively identified him as her attacker.

In addition, future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was almost lynched during a race riot in Columbia that took place in 1946.

Aldean’s native state of Tennessee, where he sings about a little town “full of good ol’ boys,” was rocked by racial insults and a mock lynching at the annual “Good Ol’ Boys Roundup” in the 1990s.

Although Aldean gave Columbia and its courtroom some attention in a making-of feature, the video’s creators insist that Aldean had nothing to do with the decision to film there.

According to a statement sent to The Washington Post by the video’s production firm, TackleBox, the video was shot in the same “popular filming location outside of Nashville” that was used in the Lifetime film “Steppin’ Into the Holiday” and the Disney film “Hannah Montana: The Movie.” According to sources from the area, both films were shot on location in Columbia. A representative from the Tennessee Entertainment Commission did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

As the firm put it, “any alternative narrative suggesting the music video’s location decision is false.” Aldean had no say in the location selection process.

Jason Aldean Small Town Music Band T-Shirt


Jason Aldean Small Town Music Band T Shirt (2)
Jason Aldean Try That In A Small Town T Shirt (1)

Jason Aldean Try That In A Small Town T-Shirt


3. Jason Aldean defends ‘Try That in a Small Town’

However, the performer defends both the track and its accompanying visuals.

As Aldean put it on Twitter on Tuesday, “in the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song… and was subjected to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide [Black Lives Matter] protests.”

These examples are not just useless but potentially harmful. While I can attempt to accept others’ right to their own interpretation of a song with music, this one goes too far because there is not a single word in the song that addresses or alludes to race, and every video clip is actual news footage.

While performing at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas in 2017, Aldean mentioned that he had survived a horrific massacre in which dozens of people were murdered and hundreds were injured. “Our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy,” he said on Twitter. The headlines should read, “NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart.”

His explanation for the song was that it “refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up.”

Writing on his political beliefs, he said, “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 hope that it will is the subject of this song.

Brittany Aldean, Aldean’s wife, has attacked the media’s coverage of the song on Instagram, arguing that “real” topics, such as child trafficking, need greater attention.
If you want to know what Aldean thinks, just look at his social media.

4. Conclusion

Some in the country music community have joined the ranks of those who have condemned the song and video, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Democratic politicians, and numerous more online.

Even in rural areas, many have had enough of the bloodshed. The country singer Sheryl Crow tweeted, “There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence.” If you’ve made it through a mass shooting, you should know it better than anybody.

A Small Town (2)
Jason Aldean Try That In A Small Town Western Gift T-Shirt

Jason Aldean Try That In A Small Town Western Gift T-Shirt


Jason Aldean Highway Desperado Tour 2023 T Shirt (2)

The song video, which Billboard said was getting substantial play on Country song Television, has been pulled from rotation, the network confirmed to The Post.

Aldean’s performance of “Try That in a Small Town” was prerecorded and shown on Wednesday night’s “CMA Fest” broadcast. The song video, however, was left off of the ABC telecast.