Sheryl Crow Blasts Jason Aldean for "Promoting Violence" with Controversial "Small Town" Song and Music Video

"This is not American or small town-like. It's just lame."

Photo: Jason Aldean by Gage Skidmore (left)

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jul 19, 2023

Ten-gallon heavyweight Jason Aldean has defended himself amid a wave of backlash against his song, "Try That in a Small Town," and its accompanying music video for seemingly promoting gun violence — but Sheryl Crow isn't having it.

While Aldean claims that the single is actually promoting "community," with lyrics like, "Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they're gonna round up," and, "Try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road / Around here, we take care of our own," Crow thinks it's "just lame."

The issue has been pressed much further since Aldean released a music video for "Try That in a Small Town," which makes its implicit allusions to violence pretty explicit — especially when the artist performs in front of a Columbia, TN, courthouse that was reportedly the site of a 1933 lynching.

Not only does the video feature footage of some isolated criminal activity, but clips from protests that are presumably Black Lives Matter rallies in response to racialized police violence in the US. Now, when the country singer dares anyone to "stomp on the flag" or "cuss out a cop" and see what happens, it seems... in poor taste to say the least.

UPDATE (7/19, 3:04 p.m. ET): New reporting from Rolling Stone has uncovered that a few bits of the protest footage used in the video were actually filmed in Canada. A prominently featured clip of a burning cop car appears to have been from 2010's G20 protests in Toronto, as well as a shot of Montreal police in riot gear from when students protested planned tuition hikes in 2012.

And people took notice. Seemingly in response to the backlash, CMT pulled the "Try That in a Small Town" video from its rotation after only two days, as per Billboard.

"I'm from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence," Crow wrote on Twitter last night (July 18), quoting a tweet from gun control activist Shannon Watts that included the lyrics to Aldean's song.

"There's nothing small-town or American about promoting violence. You should know that better than anyone, having survived a mass shooting," the singer-songwriter continued, referencing the 2017 tragedy during Aldean's set at Las Vegas's Route 91 Harvest festival that killed at least 59 people and injured over 500.

She added, "This is not American or small town-like. It's just lame."
Crow's response came mere hours after Aldean defended himself with a lengthy message shared on his social media channels, where he expressed that he stands "accused of releasing a pro-lynching song."

"These references are not only meritless, but dangerous," Aldean wrote, going on to likewise mention the Route 91 shooting. He argued that the song "refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbours, regardless of differences of background or belief."

Read the country star's full statement below.

In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous. There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it — and there isn't a single video clip that isn't real news footage — and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music, this one goes too far. 

As so many pointed out, I was present at Route 91 — where so many lost their lives — and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy. 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 neighbours, regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbours, and that was above any differences. 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 where we go at least a day without a headline that keeps us up at night. But the desire for it to — that's what this song is about.


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