Back in July, Jason Aldean came under fire for his controversial “Try That in a Small Town” which features scenes shot at Tennessee’s Maury County Courthouse, where a Black man named Henry Choate was lynched in 1927. The Columbia Race Riot also occurred there in 1946.
In a new interview with CBS, the country singer says that he might have second guessed the filming location if he had known its racist history. “Knowing what I know now, probably not,” he said of whether or not he’d choose to film there now. “But it’s also — I’m not gonna go back 100 years and check on the history of this building because, honestly, if you’re in the South, you could probably go to any small-town courthouse, you’re gonna be hard-pressed to find one that hasn’t had some racial issue over the years at some point. That’s just a fact. For anybody that thinks that we picked that building specifically for that reason, because there was a lynching there, whatever.”
Aldean added that he also get his “car tags” at that court house every year, and it’s in the county he lies in. “There was people of all color doing stuff in the video. That’s what I don’t understand. There was white people in there, there was Black people. This video did not shine the light on specific group and say, ‘That’s the problem.’ And anybody that saw that in the video, then you weren’t looking hard enough at the video,” he explained. “I thought it was actually a song that said something for a change. Not just, ‘Here’s another song for radio.’ I didn’t expect it to get the kind of heat that it got. And I think that was probably more because of the video more so than because of the song.”
He concluded, “The whole idea behind the video was to show the lawlessness and the disrespect for cops and just trashing cities. … I’m just not cool with that. I feel like the narrative got switched over and became more of a racial type thing. If that’s what you got out of the song and the video, that’s almost on you, because that wasn’t our intention.”
The video, released on July 14, features footage of American flag burning, protesters having confrontations with police, looters breaking a display case and thieves robbing a convenience store. CMT has pulled the video from its rotation after running it for three days, Billboard confirmed.
“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 a comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests,” Jason wrote in a statement at the time. “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.”
The song went on to top the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart dated Aug. 5, 2022.
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