Days after responding to the backlash surrounding the music video for his single, Try That In A Small Town, on Facebook, Jason Aldean addressed the controversy in person while performing at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Centre on Friday (21 July).
“I gotta tell you guys, it’s been a long-ass week,” he began, per Rolling Stone. “It’s been a long week, and I seen a lot of stuff, I seen a lot of stuff suggesting I’m this, suggesting I’m that. Hey, here’s the thing, here’s one thing I feel: I feel everyone’s entitled to their opinion. You can think something all you want to, it doesn’t mean it’s true.”
While Try That In A Small Town hit streaming services in May, the music video only aired on 14 July. Within days, CMT pulled the clip from rotation without providing a reason. It’s been speculated that controversy around the video led to CMT no longer playing the song.
The Try That In A Small Town video has been criticised for its pro-gun messaging and “racist dog whistling”, comments that have dominated social media in recent weeks. The music video finds Aldean standing before a church with an American flag draped over the entrance.
From there, the video weaves real-life footage of flag burning, protests, and a robbery at a convenience store. Aldean has denied “pro-lynching” allegations as the footage was reportedly filmed at a Columbia, Tennessee courthouse at the site of a 1933 lynching.
“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,” Aldean continued. “I love my country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that; I’ll tell you right now.” The audience then exploded into a “USA” chant.
Condemning cancel culture, Aldean added, “Here’s what I want to say: A lot of things out there, one thing I love, you guys know how it is, cancel culture is a thing, it’s something where if people don’t like what you say, they try and make sure they can cancel you, which means try to ruin your life, ruin everything.
“One thing I saw this week was a bunch of country music fans that can see through a lot of the bullshit, alright? I saw country music fans rally like I never seen before, and that was pretty badass, I gotta say. Thank you guys so much.” You can watch footage of Aldean’s speech below.
Aldean’s address of the controversy is the first time he acknowledged the public backlash to a live audience.
On Facebook, he wrote that Try That In A Small Town “Refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors [sic], regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbors [sic], and that was above any differences.”