Jason Aldean is still standing by his controversial new song, Try That in a Small Town.
While on stage at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday, Aldean’s audience listened attentively as the country singer spoke about the reaction to his new single. The song and its music video have been accused of encouraging vigilantism and racial violence.
Aldean, 46, accused “cancel culture” of coming for him and his song.
“I gotta tell you guys, man, it’s been a long-ass week. It’s been a long week, and I’ve seen a lot of stuff,” Aldean said, referring to the loud opposition to his song.
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff suggesting I’m this, suggesting I’m that. Here’s the thing, here’s one thing I feel: I feel like everybody’s entitled to their opinion,” he said. “You can think something all you want to, doesn’t mean it’s true, right?”
“What I am is a proud American. I’m proud to be from here.”
The crowd erupted in raucous applause.
“I love our country. I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls— started happening to us,” he concluded. “I love our country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that. I’ll tell you that right now.”
The crowd then chanted “U.S.A.”
Aldean went on to speak about “cancel culture” and said people are hungry to “ruin your life, ruin everything” if they disagree with what you say in public. He said country music fans have the ability to see through “a lot of the bulls—.”
After his speech, Aldean performed Try That in a Small Town for the crowd.
Many critics have referred to Try That in a Small Town as a “pro-lynching” song.
The song was released in May, though controversy was reignited when the country artist released the accompanying music video this month.
Aldean shot the music video for the song in front of Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., the site where a Black man named Henry Chaote was dragged behind a car by a white mob before he was lynched in 1927. The courthouse also served as a backdrop for the 1946 Columbia race riots, when Tennessee Highway Patrol officers stormed a Black neighbourhood in the wake of a controversial court case.
The music video includes footage of Black Lives Matter protests, cut together with visuals of Aldean singing in front of the courthouse. The video also featured clips of violent muggings, leading some critics to argue that Aldean was conflating protests against police brutality with violent crime.
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Country Music Television (CMT) pulled the music video off the air amid the uproar. The video had been playing on the broadcaster’s rotation through the weekend before it was removed on Monday, according to Billboard.
Aldean earlier defended his song in a long statement posted to Twitter (which is currently rebranding as “X”). He wrote that “there is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it.”
“I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music- this one goes too far,” he continued.
“Try That In A Small Town, for me, refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief.”
Confusion around Aldean’s latest song — which many alleged glorifies gun violence — was intensified by headlines reminding that a mass shooting at a 2017 Aldean concert in Las Vegas left 58 people dead and hundreds injured in the crowd.
— With files from Global News’ Kathryn Mannie
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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