Gritty Ballad About Plight of America’s Working Class, ‘Rich Men North of Richmond,’ Draws Praise From Conservatives, Scorn From Liberals

Liberal critics derisively refer to the song as a ‘right-wing anthem’ full of ‘Reagan-era talking points’ that ‘sounds like a Confederate song written in 1864 about losing your slaves.’

via YouTube
Oliver Anthony sings his ballad, 'Rich Men North of Richmond.' via YouTube

A virtually unknown country singer who began writing music two years ago has stunned recording industry officials and the nation by capturing five of the top 10 slots on iTunes’ best-selling chart this weekend after a song of his about greedy, coastal elites went viral earlier this week.

The acoustic anthem by Oliver Anthony, a former factory worker who now lives as a farmer, titled “Rich Men North of Richmond,” was posted to YouTube Tuesday and quickly racked up more than 6 million views and nearly 400,000 likes. By Saturday, it was number one on the iTunes chart of best-selling singles, outpacing Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” and Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town.”

By Sunday morning, four other singles by Mr. Anthony — “Ain’t Gotta Dollar,” “I’ve Got to Get Sober,” “I Want to Go Home,” and “Virginia” — were also in the top 10. Several other songs of his creeped into the Top 25 chart on the music streaming service.

The song has drawn scorn from liberal critics in the music industry, who derisively refer to it as a “right-wing anthem” full of “Reagan-era talking points” that “sounds like a Confederate song written in 1864 about losing your slaves,” but has been heralded by conservative commentators as a “protest song in the great country Southern tradition” that speaks to the millions of Americans who feel left out of the current economy and society.

“Encounter the real America without the filters of the elite,” Senator Paul, the Kentucky libertarian, tweeted Sunday morning. Podcaster Joe Rogan posted a link to the video on his Instagram account, stating “You can’t fake authentic, and @oliver_anthony_music has it in abundance.”

In the song, the red-headed, red-bearded singer is standing in a field with a deer blind behind him and laments the impact of high taxes, the welfare state, inflation, and indifferent politicians from Washington, D.C. — which sits about 100 miles north of Richmond, Virginia — on America’s working class. “I’ve been selling my soul, working all day/ Overtime hours for bullsh– pay,” he sings.

“It’s a damn shame what the world’s gotten to for people like me and people like you,” Mr. Anthony says. “These rich men north of Richmond, Lord knows they all just wanna have total control.”

In another verse, he expresses a desire that politicians be as concerned about miners as they are “minors on an island somewhere,” an apparent reference to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s island in the Caribbean. He also sings about the “obese milking welfare” and complains about dollars being worthless and “taxed to no end.”

In a YouTube video posted this week, the singer says “Rich Men” is his first recording produced on something other than a mobile phone. He says the song was meant to cast light on the plight of America’s working class. “The universal thing I see is no matter how much effort they put into whatever it is they’re doing, they can’t quite get ahead because the dollar’s not worth enough, they are being over-taxed,” he says. “I want to be a voice for those people.”

The New York Sun

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