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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

A new country song shows that small towns don't equal small minds

Two new country songs show a striking contrast in small-town life and how to process the larger world. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his "On My Mind commentary, digs into that contrast.

Today I want to talk about a country song. But not the one everybody else is talking about.

The song you need to know is the one released last week by Kentucky singer Tyler Childers. It’s called “In Your Love.”

If you read the lyrics it’s a typical love song, although Childers writes with more grit and clarity than most:

We were never made to run forever

We were just meant to go long enough

To find what we were chasing after

I believe I found it here in your love

That’s plenty strong. But the video, scripted by author Silas House, puts it into another territory.

Because the video depicts this song as a love story between two men. Two coal miners. The video makes it sort of the “Brokeback Mountain” of country songs — romantic and tragic, but not quite in the same way “Brokeback Mountain” is. I’ll leave the details to see for yourself.

What’s interesting to me is the juxtaposition between “In Your Love” and that other country song, the one by Jason Aldean called “Try That in a Small Town.”

The Jason Aldean song also is, shall we say, enhanced by its video. The lyrics are about how a small town won’t put up with people carjacking old ladies and robbing liquor stores. Fair enough. But the video shows a lot of footage of protesters doing things like marching against police violence. The original video showed clips of Black Lives Matter protests that were trimmed because the producers didn’t have rights to the footage.

And then there’s the part about the setting for the video — a courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where in 1927, a lynch mob hanged an 18-year-old Black man named Henry Choate. He had been accused of raping a white girl. Historians now think the accusation was false.

Country Music Television pulled the video from its rotation after complaints about it.

What we’re left with is two videos about small-town life that holler from opposite sides of the gap.

Jason Aldean is all about loading guns and lighting torches. Although I have to say standing up for law and order does not exactly fit into the country tradition, given how much of country is built on moonshiners and cheating spouses and other assorted outlaws. As the old song sort of goes, I don’t think Hank Williams done it this way.

But if Hank was alive right now, I could see him singing that Tyler Childers song, because it’s more true than the one Jason Aldean is trying to sell you. Country music is supposed to be three chords and the truth. And the truth is, as hard as fear wants to fight, in the long run, love wins.

Tommy Tomlinson’s "On My Mind" column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org.It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.