US country star denies new music video is ‘pro-lynching’

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A US country star has denied claims his new music video is an anti-Black Lives Matter anthem that promotes vigilante gun violence.

The video for Jason Aldean’s Try That In A Small Town was pulled off air on Monday by Country Music Television, days after its release.

On Twitter, Aldean, 46, rejected the criticism, calling it “meritless” and “dangerous”.

Another country star, Sheryl Crow, accused Aldean of “promoting violence”.

The song was released in May, but the video came out last Friday and quickly began to draw a backlash.

The three-minute video features clips of masked protesters, Molotov cocktails and a burning American flag as well as CCTV of robberies.

“Well, try that in a small town, see how far ya make it down the road,” Aldean sings.

The lyrics also refer to “a gun that my granddad gave me” and communities “full of good ol’ boys, raised up right”.

The video was filmed in front of a courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee. Critics noted that a white mob lynched a young black man, Henry Choate, from the building in 1927.

Sheryl Crow performs in Manchester, Tennessee, on 17 June 2023

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But Aldean said on Twitter on Tuesday that the song has nothing to do with race and is instead a celebration of small town values.

“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,” he said.

“These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.”

The award-winning country music artist was speaking a day after his video was dropped from air by Country Music Television.

“Try That in a Small Town, for me,” he tweeted, “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.”

But critics said the music video sends a divisive message.

Following Aldean’s post, Sheryl Crow tweeted: “I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence. There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence.”

“This is not American or small town-like. It’s just lame,” Crow, 61, added.

Tennessee legislator Justin Jones, a pro-gun control activist, tweeted: “We have an obligation to condemn Jason Aldean’s heinous song calling for racist violence. What a shameful vision of gun extremism and vigilantism.”

But fans of Aldean rallied to his defence.

One comment on the YouTube video accused the media of celebrating rap songs glorifying violence, “but a video by a country singer about self defense and neighbors looking out for each other is banned”.

In his tweet, Aldean cited his 2017 performance at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas where a gunman opened fire from a hotel room, killing 58 people.

“NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart,” said Aldean, a vocal conservative.

On Wednesday, Try That In A Small Town was number one on Apple’s iTunes download chart.

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