In what we are deeming an “only in America” moment, Jason Aldean’s ‘anti-woke’ hit “Try That In A Small Town” has ascended to the #1 position on iTunes, seemingly riding a wave of controversy over its lyrics and video location, much like a cowboy in a raucous rodeo. Yes, friends, let it never be said that a country star doesn’t know how to wrangle a moment in the spotlight.
Now, “Try That In A Small Town” is not your ordinary feel-good country song about summer love or partying on tailgates. Instead, it’s a heady mix of patriotism, small-town pride, and a serving of the ‘good old days’ nostalgia – kind of like apple pie with a side of conspiracy theories.
Aldean, with his weathered cowboy hat and guitar, passionately strums his way through the song, reciting a list of what he perceives as big city misdemeanors that wouldn’t stand a chance in a small town. One might expect to hear about things like fancy lattes or ignoring neighbors, but Aldean took it up a notch. “Carjack an old lady,” “cuss out a cop,” and “stomp on the flag” take center stage in his lyrical choices.
Sounds like the city folk he’s describing are the baddies from an old Western, doesn’t it? One might almost expect Clint Eastwood to roll into town any moment now.
Yet the controversy isn’t just about the lyrics. Where Aldean chose to strum his tune also raises eyebrows. In front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, Aldean croons his ballad – a site notorious for the 1927 lynching of an 18-year-old Black man. You’d think his PR team would’ve Googled the location before rolling out the cameras, but maybe they had a day off.
To add to the visual impact, there’s an American flag draped between the building’s central pillars, and interspersed throughout the video are scenes of protests and violence. Some might call this a powerful political statement, others might call it a misguided mess. We’re just here eating our popcorn and watching the drama unfold.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Aldean has been defending his song with a ferocity usually reserved for protecting one’s favorite fishing spot. According to him, the song doesn’t promote racist violence or gun extremism, but merely describes the community spirit he experienced growing up. “There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it,” he stated, possibly while strumming a defensive tune on his guitar. It seems like the city slickers got it all wrong, again.
Aldean insists that his song is about returning to a simpler, more caring time. “My political views have never been something I’ve hidden from, and I know that a lot of us in this Country don’t agree on how we get back to a sense of normalcy,” he declared, showing a commitment to transparency usually reserved for glass windows. But one has to ask, what exactly is this ‘normalcy’ he speaks of?
Now, you may be wondering, with all the backlash and controversy, how did this song rise to #1 on iTunes? Perhaps we should not underestimate the power of nostalgia or the appetite for controversy. Or maybe, just maybe, there are more folks out there who like their apple pie served with a side of conspiracy theories than we thought.
Or could it be that this song is the embodiment of a culture war that’s been brewing? A backlash against an increasingly progressive society? Or is it simply that catchy tune and Aldean’s gruff charm that’s caught the listener’s fancy? The mystery is as thick as grandma’s gravy.
As we watch Aldean’s song enjoy its spot at the top of iTunes, we must wonder if this is a victory for a misunderstood small-town hero, or if controversy is indeed the new currency for chart-topping success. Whatever it is, Aldean has proved one thing beyond doubt – there’s no such thing as bad publicity, especially when you can strum it out on a guitar.