Single Review: Jason Aldean, “Fly Over States”

This is way better than its title gives it any right to be.

As a native urban dweller, I totally get how the country life can get overlooked.  Sure, the country folk can be just as oblivious to our ways of life, but it’s not a fair equivalence.   We can overlook them without even knowing we’re doing it, but the fly over states have no way to hide from us.

In the American media, big city life is pretty much all that’s depicted. There aren’t news networks and situation comedies and international magazines being beamed in from those fly over states.   Everybody in America knows what New York City looks like, but there are small towns across the country that will always remain nameless and faceless to all but the few who live there or pass through them.

So Aldean’s passionate description of Oklahoma, the Badlands, and other places of beauty comes off more as a “we’re special, too”  than a “we’re better than you.”   Maybe it will motivate some east or west coast folks to take the scenic route instead of a direct flight next time.

Written by Wendell Mobley and Neil Thrasher

Grade: B+

Listen: Fly Over States

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6 Comments

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6 Responses to Single Review: Jason Aldean, “Fly Over States”

  1. A grade of B+ is exactly what I would have given this. I think it’s one of the best and most interesting songs Jason Aldean has put out lately. For the most part, I thought “Tattoos On This Town” was also pretty solid, but on that one I thought the production got in the way a little more.

    Anyhow, this makes for two back-to-back Jason Aldean songs that I’ve generally liked, which for him is pretty good! Wonder if he’ll get a streak going?

  2. Jake JNo Gravatar

    I really tried not to like this song mostly because of the state of country radio and I really don’t think there needs to be anymore ‘I’m so country because I’m redneck and this is why’ while the production screams rock music (we also don’t need anymore drinkin songs, I’m talking to you Jerrod Neimann!) But after hearing Aldean’s new song twice on radio now, it’s grown on me. It stacks up against similar songs out there because, like you said, it doesn’t feel like he is trying to brag about his way of life being better but trying to tell the story of his way of life.

  3. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    This seems like a step in the right direction, away from country songs that seem to need to prove something to and towards a more realistic view of small town life. There needs to be much more of this kind of honesty in songs of this stripe, instead of all the redneck confrontational stuff (IMHO).

  4. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    Though “Tattoos On This Town” remains my favorite of his singles from this album cycle, I nonetheless agree with the rating and would rate “Fly Over States” fourth among his entire singles history to date (also behind “The Truth” and “Amarillo Sky”).

    *

    Lyrically, I will say I think it panders to the familiar “we’re just not understood” mindset like countless other Country releases in recent years, and it isn’t entirely free of logical fallacy (I think there are certainly about as many big city names that sound just as funny as some small town names, for one, and I take a little issue with the assertion that some Holy Spirit made what would later be “fly over states” for a reason much differently than he made what would later be California and New York)………………….but “Fly Over States” resonates better than most songs of this crop in that the message is more tuned towards the reality that many of us take a lot of the natural beauty and reality beyond our own surroundings for granted, rather than being supremely defensive and flipping off city slickers and suggesting their livelihood is rife with criminal activity, broken homes and basically the total opposite of their own livelihood.

    There are hints of defensiveness for sure, but nothing close to the breed of, say, Josh Thompson’s “Way Out Here” or Aaron Lewis’ “Country Boy”. The lyrics don’t necessarily suggest urbanites are the problem, but rather posits that we can all be rather myopic and take for granted, when gazing at reality from a distance, how there’s so much more than meets the eye. “Fly Over States” does indeed drive home done-to-death descriptors like freight train engineers (actually, in fairness, we don’t hear trains dropped in country songs nearly as much as trucks and tractors these days), and asphalt cowboys……….but then there’s also some fairly enticing imagery like the water-color painted windshield sunset.

    When you really get down to it, “Fly Over States” attempts to make a point about how modern technology and fast-paced living tends to disintegrate us from our more natural surroundings. That’s a tough realization to argue against. One might suggest “Fly Over States” is employing the use of synecdoche (i.e., the plane referring to an urbanized/industrialized/city slicker frame of mind)………..but that connotation isn’t made throughout the course of the song. To me, I just interpret the plane as a simpler metaphor at most.

    Certain logical fallacies mentioned earlier aside, such as the reality that California and New York are “fly over states” in their own rights (really, Neil Thrasher and Michael Dulaney………there are freight train engineers who work their rears off daily all throughout the Golden Gate State and, if you were to take a drive across the Mojave Desert, to Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay to Red Slate Mountain and beyond…………I assure you you may even want to place your stakes there, fellas! )……………………….”Fly Over States” is all in all more successful at eliciting this point than most other songs of this sort, which make for grating listens in that they froth the froth rather than talk the talk.

    *

    Vocally, Aldean’s vocals are also above-average here, I believe. His range is as limited as ever, but one of his strengths recently has been knowing how to make the most of his limited range and make a monotone emotionally accessible. He accomplishes this here as he did on “Tattoos On This Town”. When he sings the second chorus, he convinces you he knows how exciting it feels to be glimpsing into an Oklahoma sunset through your windshield as you’re driving across its countryside…….as though he’s closing his eyes in that moment while vocalizing conjuring up that image again himself. Aldean can really be a serviceable vocalist when he wants to be, and he very much is here.

    *

    Finally, the production is still as guitar-driven as we’re generally used to hearing from him, but it isn’t obnoxious and is more in the vein of “Amarillo Sky” if anything (which is among his best singles to date)…….replete with touch-ups of pedal steel. Knox wisely lets Aldean take command rather than the amplifiers, and it makes for a muscular yet accessible listen.

    *

    This is the first time in Aldean’s recording career to date he has released consecutive singles I liked quite a bit. I’ll still lament the fact “Church Pew or Barstool” never saw the light of airplay day……..but this is about the next best thing he could offer.

  5. RowdyRedNo Gravatar

    Noah, I have to agree with you that the JA songs you referenced are by far his best singles. “Amarillo Sky”….those were the days when I was still living in Chicago and yet I completely identified with the message of just trying to hang in there. I earnestly sang along with “he takes the tractor another round, another round, another round” while cruising down Lake Shore Drive with the Lake Michigan on one side and towering skyscrapers on the other. No damm culture war in sight. I totally got it.

    Now I live in small-town rural SW Louisiana — about as different from Chicago as possible — and I still don’t understand the culture war. I DO understand the feelings of attachment and identity that are universal. That song, and THIS song, speak to that without being obnoxious.

    I’ve said many times that I can’t wait for this era of “rural pride” (read: hostile paranoid ranting) to end. I sincerely hope that Jason Aldean move further in this direction, since I can now appreciate him.

  6. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    It is partly why I lament “Church Pew or Barstool” isn’t going to see the light of day (Aldean has already announced the lead single to his fifth studio album will be released this summer)………because it would have helped further elevate Aldean as a singer that speaks to rural pride but also doesn’t pick at the culture war scabs quite as much.

    The aforementioned track is the single best track he has cut to date, in my opinion, because it speaks the truth. No matter where you are, whether it is a bustling metropolitan crux or a splintered ghost town with a handful of its residents nonetheless determined to persevere……….there are many who can’t identify with straddling the fence between “raisin’ Cain” and “amazing grace”. They recognize reality is resoundingly more grayscale than that. I live in Portland, Oregon, and I feel that false dichotomy often (though I’d substitute the church pew for something more on the spiritual side of the equation). I can relate to what he’s speaking about………..where the world doesn’t revolve around a microbrewery or a yoga studio (apologies to all my yoga practitioner friends, I certainly say that not intending to put you down, but to make a point of the pervasiveness of them and how it can’t help but feel like everyone who is spiritual also does yoga! ;) )

    Aldean needs to cut more tracks like this and “Church Pew or Barstool”.