As a native of a small town herself — Kennett, Mo., with a population of 10,288 as of the 2021 census — Sheryl Crow takes issue with the sentiment behind Jason Aldean’s controversial new song, “Try That in a Small Town.”
“[Jason Aldean], 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,” Crow says in a tweet. “You should know that better than anyone having survived a mass shooting.
“This is not American or small town-like. It’s just lame,” the singer concludes.
.@Jason_Aldean 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. You should know that better than anyone having survived a mass shooting.
This is not American or small town-like. It’s just lame https://t.co/cuOtUO9xjr
— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) July 19, 2023
Crow’s post also quotes a tweet by gun activist and Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts, who went viral on Twitter over the weekend for pointing out that Aldean — who was performing onstage during the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting, a tragedy that killed 60 people and remains the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in modern U.S. history — now has a song that talks “about how he and his friends will shoot you if you try to take their guns.”
Another Twitter user who criticized the song pointed out that, according to AP News data from 2018, most U.S. mass shootings at schools take place in small towns. That year, nine out of the 10 deadliest school shootings took place in towns with fewer than 75,000 residents, and the majority of them took place in towns with a population smaller than 50,000.
— I Dissent (@DissentFu) July 17, 2023
In 2022, a report from Bakersfield, Calif., news channel KBAK/KBFX reported that the majority of mass shootings were continuing to take place in small towns, and additional data from USA Today corroborated those findings.
“Homicides with fewer than four victims are more common in larger cities, but mass killings with higher death tolls often take place in smaller towns or rural settings,” that report concluded.
The song’s perceived glorification of gun-based vigilante justice is just one part of the controversy currently surrounding “Try That in a Small Town,” which has also been criticized as racist dog whistling and a message of veiled intimidation toward Black listeners. The music video for the song was shot in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., the same spot where an 18-year-old Black man named Henry Choate was hung after being lynched and killed by a mob in 1927.
Aldean has since replied to the backlash against his single and music video in a social media statement that addresses both the accusations of racism and the critics that pointed out his close proximity to the Route 91 massacre.
“NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart,” his statement reads in part.