You never know when the next battle will erupt in the never-ending culture war that’s had America divided down the middle for the past decade or so.
This week’s skirmish involves Jason Aldean, Sheryl Crow, a bunch of angry Twitter users, and a song that was released back in May.
Allow us to explain:
In case you somehow haven’t heard, Aldean’s song “Try That In a Small Town” is creating quite a bit of controversy at the moment.
The track was released earlier this year, but “Small Town” just gained mainstream attention this week following the release of video that’s resulted in a major uproar.
The song’s lyrics have drawn serious backlash from critics who say it glorifies politically motivated violence and even promotes lynching.
“Cuss out a cop, spit in his face / Stomp on the flag and light it up / Yeah, ya think you’re tough / Well, try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road,” Aldean sings in the clip below.
“Around here, we take care of our own / You cross that line, it won’t take long / For you to find out, I recommend you don’t / Try that in a small town.”
Many have noted that the video was filmed at the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, the site where an 18-year-old Black man named was lynched in 1927.
Anti-gun violence activist Shannon Watts tweeted that the song is “an ode to a sundown town, suggesting people be beaten or shot for expressing free speech. It also insinuates that guns are being confiscated, the penalty for which is apparently death.”
Singer Sheryl Crow entered the debate on Tuesday, condemning Aldean for attempting to deepen the division between Americans with differing views.
“I’m from a small town,” Crow tweeted.
“Even people in small towns are sick of violence. There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence,” she continued.
“You should know that better than anyone having survived a mass shooting. This is not American or small town-like.”
“As Tennessee lawmakers, we have an obligation to condemn Jason Aldean’s heinous song calling for racist violence,” Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones wrote on his social media pages.
“What a shameful vision of gun extremism and vigilantism. We will continue to call for common sense gun laws, that protect ALL our children and communities.”
Already, the controversial video has been removed from CMT’s rotation.
Aldean was quick to respond to the criticism, denying that there’s any racist or violent intent behind the song or the video.
“While I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music − this one goes too far,” the singer tweeted.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
Aldean continued: “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.”
Aldean was performing onstage when 60 people were killed and more than 400 others injured outside the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino in Las Vegas in 2017, the largest mass shooting in US history.
The singer is no stranger to political controversy, and it was just last year that Jason’s wife, Brittany Aldean was accused of making transphobic comments on social media.
That situation led to a feud between the Aldeans and Maren Morris, who blasted Brittany’s alleged bigotry.
The debate over Aldean’s song seems to have boosted its popularity, with TMZ reporting that “Try That In a Small Town” is now number one on iTunes.