Jason Aldean defended his song "Try That in a Small Town" in Massachusetts over the weekend, comparing the tune's ethos to Bostonians who came together following the Boston Marathon bombings.
Aldean told fans he thought "Small Town" was "a really cool song" with a message that's been "overshadowed by all the bulls---."
"I was lying in bed last night and I was thinking to myself, you guys would get this better than anybody, right? Because I remember a time, I think it was April 2013, when the Boston Marathon bombings happened, you guys remember this right?" he asked the audience.
"The last time that happened was a whole, not a small town, a big-ass town came together, no matter your color, no matter anything. No matter if you’re anything. The whole country and especially Boston came together to find" the people responsible for the bombings.
The fatally wounded were Boston University grad student Lu Lingzi, 23; restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29; and 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was watching the marathon with his family.
The older brother, Tamerlan, 26, died days after the bombing from injuries suffered in a shootout with police and when Dzhokhar ran him over in his escape. Dzhokhar, 19 at the time, was captured hours later hiding in a backyard in Watertown.
"And anybody, any of you guys that would’ve found those guys before the cops did, I know you guys from Boston, and you guys would’ve beat the s--- out of them, either one of ‘em," Aldean told the crowd Saturday.
"And I’ve been trying to say, this is not about race, it’s about people getting their s--- together and acting right, acting like you’ve got some common sense."
Peter Norden, who had two nephews lose legs in the attack, said he doesn't believe Aldean's song had any ill intent.
"I don't have any problem using that (the 2013 attack) as an example (of a rallying community)," Norden, 60, told NBC News on Monday.
"I didn't take offense to it at all. If I would have taken offense to a song like that, then why wouldn't I take offense to some of the songs that really degrade women?"
Others with Boston-related social media feeds were not as forgiving.
"Mansfield, Massachusetts is also quite far from Boston. This guy is a hack of a songwriter, trying to make himself relevant," one netizen wrote.
"I wonder if Jason Aldean would dare say this to Martin Richard’s family, who run an organization that promotes peace and nonviolence."