“Try that in a small town” has critics unhinged!

Published 11:36 am Saturday, July 29, 2023

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I grew up listening to classical music. That’s all I played in my truck when I was living in the small town of Ferriday. You know what I mean. My list of classical masterpieces were by Louisiana singers included melodies from the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Lainey Wilson, and Tim McGraw.  They all came from my part of the state in Northeast, Louisiana. Yep, I Iove country music.


I’ve also listened for a good while to Jason Aldean, a Georgia native who wrote one of my favorites, “Dirt Road Anthem,” about small town livin’ and the joy of driving backwoods dirt roads.  But he sure has stirred up a hornet’s nest with his latest song “Try that in a Small Town.”  The reaction from city dwelling columnists has been farcical and ridiculous.


The song “is a fantasy of violent retribution against outsiders” says The Washington Post.  Variety Magazine chimed in by calling the song close to being the most cynical song ever written about the implicit moral superiority of having a limited number of neighbors.”  A liberal Tennessee legislator demanded that “We have an obligation to condemn Jason Aldean’s heinous song calling for racist violence. What a shameful vision of gun extremism and vigilantism.”


Wow!  Pretty heavy criticism. Let’s take a look at the lyrics to see what all this outrage is about.


Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk

Carjack an old lady at a red light

Pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store

Ya think it’s cool, well, act a fool if ya like

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

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.


What’s all the fuss about?  Are those who are outraged by the song in favor of sucker punches, carjacking and stomping on the flag?  And where is all this outrage over thousands of hip-hop lyrics that are laced with four letter words and calls for outright criminal violence?  Apparently these same critics of Aldean are OK with an exaggerated imagery of rappers being violent and proudly degenerate.


So what has been the effect of Aldean’s headline-making hit?  As of last week, the song occupied the No. 1 spot on iTunes’ Top Songs and Music Videos charts.  The song, which was released May 19, has over 3.8 million Spotify streams.  Over on YouTube, the music video, which dropped just two weeks ago, has over 1.8 million views. It also holds the No. 4 spot on the site’s trending music videos.  All the criticism has done is shoot the song to the top of the charts.


Here is what Jason Aldean says the song means to him.  “‘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. Because they were our neighbors, and that was above any differences.”


When I listen to the words, I hear thoughts of looking out for one another, respecting our country, loyalty, patriotism, and decent moral values.  And I ask myself, what could be wrong with a song like that?


Peace and Justice


Jim Brown


Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also listen to his regular podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.