Jason Aldean is disputing claims that his controversial ‘Try That in a Small Town’ music video had racist undertones. The country music star appeared 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, summing up the backlash Aldean faced. “It was a threatening kind of video for black people, I mean people were putting it on like TikTok.”
“But there were people of all colors doing things in the video,” Aldean said. “That’s what I don’t understand. You know, there were white people there. There were black people. I mean, this video didn’t shine a light on one particular group and say that’s the problem. So anyone who saw that in the video, you didn’t watch the video carefully enough is all I can tell you.’
Aldean caused a firestorm in July when he released the video for his song “Try That in a Small Town,” which eventually topped the Billboard Hot 100 amid backlash. The song has already been accused of featuring lyrics that are pro-gun and pro-violence, but the accompanying music video has generated more outrage because it was filmed outside the courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where a black man was lynched in the 20- those years of the last century. It also features real-life footage of rallies, looting and riots targeting police officers. CMT pulled the music video from airing on its network, and prominent country music figures like Sheryl Crow spoke out against Aldean.
“I’m from a small town. Even small town people are sick of violence,” Crowe wrote on X/Twitter in a message directed at Aldean’s account. “There is nothing small-town or American about promoting violence. You should know this better than anyone who has survived a mass shooting. This is not American or small town. It’s just lame.”
Aldean was performing at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire, killing 60 people and injuring hundreds. He took to his social media pages the day after CMT pulled the “Try That in a Small Town” video to defend the song from its many critics.
“In the last 24 hours, I’ve been accused of releasing a lynching song (a song that’s been out since May) and being compared that I’m (direct quote) not too happy about the national Black Lives Matter protests. These references are not only baseless, but dangerous,” Aldean wrote.
He continued: “There’s not a single lyric in the song that mentions or targets race – and there’s not a single video that isn’t actual news footage – and while I can try to respect others for having their own interpretation on a song with music — that’s going too far. As many have pointed out, I was present on Route 91 – where so many lost their lives – and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy. NO ONE, including me, wants to keep seeing senseless headlines or families torn apart.”
Later at a concert in July, his first amid the backlash, Aldean railed against “cancellation culture.”
“It’s been a long week. I’ve seen a lot of things that suggest I’m this, suggest I’m that,” Aldean said as the crowd at Riverbend Music Center booed the resistance he faced. “I feel that everyone is entitled to an opinion. You can think something all you want, that 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 was before all this crap started happening to us. I love my country. I love my family. And I will do anything to protect him.”
Speaking earlier this month on the Coop’s Rockin’ Country Saturday Night podcast, Aldean said that “if you have common sense, you can look at the video and see, I’m not saying anything that’s not true. In the video I show 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” will air Nov. 1 on the network and Paramount+. Watch a clip of the discussion below.