Dear Jason Aldean,
I’m from a small town — an actual small town. I grew up in Oglethorpe, Georgia with a population of 1,000 people and 1 traffic light. I’ve been to your hometown of Macon, Georgia just up the road from my home here in Perry, Georgia.
There is much I like about Macon, despite its crime issues. There are some great restaurants like the Fish n Pig, The Rookery, Famous Mike’s and Kudzu Seafood Company. Your town’s contributions to the music world are legendary — including Otis Redding, Little Richard and the Allman Brothers. I’ve enjoyed watching the Macon Bacon, visiting the Ocmulgee Mounds, touring the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and cheering on Mercer University’s athletic teams. (#GoBears)
Macon is a lot of things, but it ain’t a small town. OK, compared to Tokyo, perhaps, but it’s freaking gigantanormous compared to Oglethorpe. And that’s OK.
What’s not OK is your using fake small-town credentials to stir up controversy to boost your bank account and turn an otherwise bad song (“Try That in a Small Town”) into a titanumental hit. And, quite frankly, I suspect the plan all along was for your dog-whistling video to be a “victim” of cancel culture. It wasn’t a call to action but a cry for attention. And now you’ve got folks riled up in a useless big city vs. small town war, much to mainstream media’s delight as they post about it multiple times a day now.
Your evil plan worked like a charm.
I get it. Being “canceled” boosts your country cred, makes you anti-woke. I long for the day when one of my books is banned in Florida. (CMT ain’t got nothing on Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Mickey Mouse governor.) It’s one of a few ways I suspect we’re pretty similar.
For instance, you have a hot wife who is way out of your league and is only with you because you’re a rich music star. Same here, except there is no logical explanation for why my wife is with me. I also play guitar and sing. Granted, my audiences are usually a little smaller, such as grandkids and squirrels, but my performances are just as awful as yours and also sound like a ferret being run over by a garbage truck.
I’m also pro-free speech and anti-censorship as much as possible. Everything has its limits, of course, but I’m perfectly fine with folks listening to your song if they want to. Some folks are gluttons for punishment. And if they want to watch your video, that’s fine with me, too. I thought CMT stopped showing videos last millennium, and I can’t believe anyone has the time for them. Oh, well.
We also differ in many ways. For instance, I can see more than one side of an issue. Maybe it’s the former journalist in me. I’m for peaceful protest, but I don’t support rioting and looting. I’m for whining when you lose elections, but I’m not for storming government institutions and putting up gallows outside the Capitol. (Because I did not watch the entirety of your video, I can only assume that the video has plenty of coverage of neo-Nazi rallies and the January 6 assault on the Capitol, or as Tucker Carlson remembers it, the peaceful stroll.)
By the way, my dad was once the mayor of Oglethorpe, back in the late 1970s. (That was back when country music was great.) He lost his bid for re-election. I’m pretty sure he didn’t whine about it incessantly or inspire a horde of frothing-at-the-mouth zombies to march on the Macon County Courthouse. We wouldn’t try that in a small town.
Of course, that’s just among many things I wouldn’t try in that small town. Fortunately, I was straight, white and went to the Oglethorpe Baptist Church every Sunday at 11 a.m. (the most segregated hour in America). Those who may have been a little different didn’t try to do much of anything. We didn’t even have riots because it wouldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes to loot the Suwanee Swifty and the IGA anyway. What would be the point?
We did have a few shootings here and there. One fellow got shot in the head as he slept just a few houses away from ours when I was in junior high school. Only one person heard the two shots — me. It happened at 4 a.m., and I wasn’t supposed to be up watching “The Rat Patrol” on WTBS, but I was. I had to testify at the murder trial … all because I was up way past my bedtime. I wouldn’t try that again.
I live in Perry, Georgia, now with about 23,000 other folks. It’s a little too big for me, but at least it’s smaller than where you grew up. I have a somewhat idealistic longing for a return to small-town living, though perhaps with fewer veiled threats of violence against those with whom we disagree. My small-town utopia would be one where life is still slower and quieter, but where opposing views are tolerated and people are free to be who they want to be.
We all have our vision of our personal Mayberry. Mayberry was indeed a wonderful TV land — so nice that every prison escapee in North Carolina headed there at some point. But in every small town, even in Mayberry, for every likable Andy Taylor, there are still plenty of annoying Goobers.
And, clearly, Macon has produced its share of Goobers, as well.
And, because I’m not for censorship, take a look for yourself. Although, if I were you, I’d mute it: