Lee Greenwood Defends Jason Aldean Over Song Controversy: ‘You Can’t Take Freedom Away’
Lee Greenwood is publicly defending Jason Aldean amid a firestorm of controversy over his "Try That in a Small Town" song and video. In an interview on Jesse Watters Primetime, the "God Bless the USA" singer says Aldean has been unjustly accused of racism.
“I am a Jason Aldean fan. He is the biggest patriot, like a lot of us," Greenwood says. "It has nothing to do with racism. This is about people trying to take away the freedom of expression. It is a great song. I wish I had it.”
Aldean has been under fire for the song, which relies on tropes about small-town America for its lyrical theme. Many critics and online users have decried the song as promoting vigilante gun violence.
"Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they're gonna round up / Well, that sh-t might fly in the city, good luck / Try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road / 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," Aldean sings.
CMT pulled the video out of rotation after just days on the air after extensive criticism, much of which centers around its location. The clip features footage of crowds protesting police brutality during the pandemic, including burning American flags. It intersperses that news footage with shots of Aldean in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., a rural town where a mob hung the body of an 18-year-old Black man named Henry Choate after lynching and murdering him in 1927. Critics have accused Aldean of promoting racism and violence in the clip, which he has denied.
“It’s about a small-town flavor," Greenwood says of the video. "I am from a small town in California, and you know what? People cannot take our freedom away because people know everybody in a small town. That’s what the heart of America is, is rural America. You can’t take freedom away.”
In a statement to Entertainment Tonight, the production company behind the clip, Tacklebox, says the location is a "popular filming location outside of Nashville," citing several other projects that filmed in the area.
"Any alternative narrative suggesting the music video’s location decision is false," the company states, adding that Aldean did not choose the location for the video.
Aldean responded to the controversy over the song and video in a statement via social media: