July has not been kind to country star Jason Aldean. The musician, who just days ago had to end a concert early after suffering heat stroke, is now under fire for the questionable lyrics of his song “Try That in a Small Town,” which just got its accompanying music video yanked by Country Music Television (CMT), the network confirmed to Decider.
The video was released days ago on Friday (July 14), but was removed from CMT on Monday (July 17), according to Billboard, which was first to report the news. According to the outlet, CMT played Aldean’s video “in the morning music video hours,” although they noted it was “unclear how many times CMT played the video before pulling it.”
If you’re wondering just how bad, really, Aldean’s video was, buckle up. Scenes featured in the Shaun Silva-directed release were filmed in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where a white mob once “dragged a young man named Henry Choate through the streets behind a car before finally hanging him from a second-story courthouse window” in 1927, according to Variety.
The disturbing history of the building coupled with the song’s threatening lyrics earned Aldean a swift and furious wave of backlash, even months after his song was first released in May. CMT confirmed to Decider that they were no longer airing Aldean’s video, but did not offer further explanation about their decision.
Aldean’s video pairs scenes in front of the courthouse with footage of police clashing with protestors and flags being burned. As for the lyrics? Aldean warns anyone who wants to “Cuss out a cop, spit in his face” or “Stomp on the flag and light it up” to “Try that in a small town” and “See how far ya make it down the road.”
At one point, it sounds like Aldean is gearing up for the next great battle as he sings, “Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they’re gonna round up / That shit may fly in the city / Good luck trying that in a small town.”
As Billboard and Variety both note, Aldean was onstage at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas, which marked the worst gun massacre in our country’s history after a gunman shot and killed 60 people in 2017.
After Aldean was accused of releasing a “pro-lynching song,” he shared a statement on Instagram Stories defending himself, per Billboard.
“I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject too the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” he wrote.
In reference to his Route 91 experience, Aldean wrote, “NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart. … ‘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.”
As of press time, Aldean’s video is still available to stream on his YouTube channel, where it has over one million views.
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