Jason Aldean covers Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down' on 'SNL'
Saturday Night Live YouTube

Country star Jason Aldean opened NBC's 'Saturday Night Live' on Oct. 7 with a simple but powerful statement about the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas. Aldean then launched into a cover of Tom Petty’s hit song “I Won’t Back Down.”

"SNL" usually opens the show with a comedy sketch, but instead of comedy, the show was opened with a serious tone by Aldean, who made a statement about the inexplicable mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1. Aldean was headlining at the Route 91 Harvest Festival at the time of the shooting, so his resolute public statement is important to fans and to all American citizens. 

Dressed in black, Jason Aldean somberly opened the show, stating. “This week we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history. You can be sure that we’re going to walk through these tough times every step of the way." Aldean then invoked the courageous American spirit by saying. "Because when America is at its best, our bond and our spirit? It’s unbreakable.” 

After making his steadfast statement, Aldean, backed by his band, immediately launched into Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” The song delivers a message about persevering in the face of bullying or whatever difficulties on might face. .Aldean maintained a serious expression throughout his performance, belting out the song's phrases, "I'll stand my ground / No I won't back down." 

Tom Petty died  Oct. 2,  reportedly after suffering cardiac arrest while in his Malibu home. Petty was just 66 years old and had recently completed his Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour.

The choice of the song that Aldean covered by Petty was poignant, as the music world will miss his talents as a songwriter and performer. "SNL" effectively combined two of the week’s major headlines for the show’s opening, which made the serious tone of the opening especially appropriate.

Aldean canceled his tour dates for the weekend out of respect for the victims and their families, according to a statement on his website. The country star will resume his tour on Oct. 12 in Tulsa, OK, showing that while it is important to mourn, there also comes a time to move ahead,  In that way, he will be demonstrating  his belief in Petty's lyrics, because he "won't back down."  

At the end of his performance of "I Won't Back Down," Aldean proclaimed the familiar "SNL" show opening, "Live from New York...It's Saturday Night!" 

Aldean was a surprise guest on the show on Saturday night. The scheduled musical guest Sam Smith appeared later and nailed his emotional performances of "Too Good at Goodbyes" and "Pray." Smith is currently promoting his sophomore album The Thrill Of It All., due out on Nov. 3.