Jason Aldean is disputing claims that his controversial music video for “Try That in a Small Town” had racist undertones. The country music star participated in an interview with “CBS Mornings” and was asked by reporter Jan Crawford about his reaction to hearing such accusations from the public, to which Aldean asked, “How?”
“You know, it was like a call to arms and small towns,” Crawford said, summarizing the backlash Aldean faced. “It was a threatening kind of video for Black people, I mean, people were putting this on like, TikTok.”
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“But there was people of all color doing stuff in the video,” Aldean said. “That’s what I don’t understand. You know, there was white people in there. There was Black people. I mean, this video did not shine light on one specific group and say, that’s the problem. So anybody that saw that in the video, then you weren’t looking hard enough in the video is all I can tell you.”
Aldean created a firestorm in July when he released the video for his song “Try That in a Small Town,” which ended up topping the Billboard Hot 100 amid the backlash. The song had already been accused of featuring lyrics that were pro-gun and pro-violence, but the accompanying music video generated greater outrage for being filmed in front of a courthouse in Colombia, Tennessee where a Black man was lynched in the 1920s. It also included real-life footage of rallies, looting and riots directed at police officers.
Addressing the location of the video on CBS Mornings, Aldean said he wasn’t aware of the building’s history — and if he had been, he probably wouldn’t have filmed there. But, Aldean said, “I’m not going to go back 100 years and check on the history of this building. Honestly, if you’re in the south, you could probably go to any smalltown courthouse, and be hard-pressed to find one that hasn’t had a racial issue over the years at some point. That’s a fact.”
As for the imagery in the video, he said: “The whole idea behind the video was to show the lawlessness and the disrespect for cops and, you know, just trashing cities and burning — I’m just not cool with that. It just — I don’t know, I feel like the narrative got switched over and became more of a racial-type thing. It’s like if that’s what you got out of the song and the video, I mean, I almost feel like that’s on you because that wasn’t our intention.”
Back in July, CMT pulled the music video from airing its network, and prominent country music figures such as Sheryl Crow spoke out against Aldean. “I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence,” Crow wrote on X/Twitter in a message aimed at Aldean’s account. “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.”
Aldean was performing at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire and killed 60 people, injuring hundreds. He used his social media pages on the day after CMT pulled the “Try That in a Small Town” video to defend the song from its many critics.
“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 Black Lives Matter protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” Aldean wrote.
He continued, “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.”
Later on at a July concert, his first amid the backlash, Aldean railed against “cancel culture.”
“It’s been a long week. I’ve seen a lot of stuff suggesting I’m this, suggesting I’m that,” Aldean said, as the audience at the Riverbend Music Center booed the opposition he’s faced. “I feel everybody’s entitled to their opinion. You can think something all you want to, it doesn’t mean it’s true. What I am is a proud American… I love our country. I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bullshit started happening to us. I love my country. I love my family. And I will do anything to protect that.”
Speaking earlier this month on “Coop’s Rockin’ Country Saturday Night” podcast, Aldean said that “if you’ve got common sense, you can look at the video and see, I’m not sayin’ anything that’s not true. In the video, 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.”
Aldean’s full interview with “CBS Mornings” aired Nov. 1 on the network and Paramount+. Watch a clip from the discussion below.
TUNE IN: Country music star @Jason_Aldean opens up about his controversial hit, “Try That In A Small Town,” which has prompted both backlash and praise, tomorrow on CBS Mornings. pic.twitter.com/9Jo3SqkfVl
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) October 31, 2023
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