‘Keep That Red Dirt on Those Boots’—The Meaning Behind Jason Aldean’s 2023 Single “Let Your Boys Be Country”

Jason Aldean‘s 2023 album Highway Desperado may have been his most controversial yet, with the single “Try That in a Small Town.” The song, which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, faced criticism for promoting gun and other violence—Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they’re gonna round up / Well, that s–t might fly in the city—and for its racist undertones, following the release of its music video, which was filmed outside the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where 18-year-old Henry Choate was lynched in 1927.

After releasing “Try That in a Small Town,” Aldean’s second single from Highway Desperado was still honoring small-town, country roots but was less contentious. Written by Jaron Boyer, Allison Veltz Cruz, and Micah Wilshire, “Let Your Boys Be Country” was a letter to mothers to let their sons grow up to be the men they are meant to be.

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[RELATED: Jason Aldean and the Songwriters of “Try That in a Small Town” Share the True Story Behind the Song—”We Always Knew What We Were Trying to Convey About the Song”]

Country Roots

Though both songs were similar, “Try That in a Small Town” explored some of Aldean’s experiences growing up in a small community while “Let Your Boys Be Country” leaves a more universal message about letting kids grow up freely and celebrating a simpler rural upbringing.

“This song’s about letting your boys, letting your kids be kids, especially little boys,” said Aldean. “Let them go get dirty, play in the mud, go out in the woods, catch some fish, hunt, all those kinds of things.”

Let your boys be country
Let ’em keep that red dirt on those boots
Make ’em proud of that middle nowhere
He’s got down in his roots
Let ’em work in a hay field sweating
For a little summer cash
Raise ’em hard raise ’em tough
Bring ’em up to have their brother’s back

Let ’em ride rowdy trucks making back road noise
Let ’em hang out on Friday, getting wild with the boys
Let ’em go to the woods in the cold painted up camo green

Yeah, them cheeks, let ’em fall for a small-town girl
Let everything inside these county lines be his whole world
You want him to grow up to be someone he’s damn proud to be
Mamas, let your boys be country

Teach ’em “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am”
And never turn down a cold beer
Tell ’em there ain’t nothing greener
Than the grass you’re standing on right here

“I got a five-year-old little boy who’s growing up in a crazy world right now,” said Aldean of his son Memphis, who also appears in the music video with him. “It’s like, ‘Man, just let ’em be kids. Let them be little. Let them go play and do all the things they’re supposed to do and figure things out for themselves.”

Aldean added, “Little boys grow up to be men that are supposed to get married and take care of their family and be providers. As parents, you gotta raise ’em to be that. To me, it was a song that hit home when it comes to thinking about him being little and what’s in store for him later.”

Aldean’s Son

In the video for “Let Your Boys Be Country” Aldean and Memphis appear in the hunting-centered clip with the father-and-son painting camo green on their faces before heading into the woods. The video ties into the lyrics, said Aldean, which are focused on the “simpler parts of life.”

[RELATED: Colt Ford Helped Jason Aldean Land the Country-Rap Hit “Dirt Road Anthem”]

“Everything doesn’t revolve around all these crazy things that are going on in the world,” said Aldean of the meaning behind the song. “Make it simple, whether it’s going outside and playing sports or going to hunt, fish—whatever it is—just let them [kids] be innocent for now and figure it out as they go along.”

Aldean’s wife Brittany and their 4-year-old daughter Navy also appear in the video.

Highway Desperado went to No. 6 on the Country charts and marked the first album since Wide Open from 2009 to feature songs co-written by Aldean, who helped pen the title track along with “Hungover in a Hotel” and “Breakup Breakdown.”

Photo: Terry Wyatt/WireImage

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