Virginia Songwriter’s Working-Class Anthem ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ Soars to Top of Charts

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
August 13, 2023Entertainment
share
Virginia Songwriter’s Working-Class Anthem ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ Soars to Top of Charts
Guitars in a file photo. (Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images)

In a sign of the enduring power of music to capture the essence of social struggles, a new country song titled “Rich Men North of Richmond” has taken the internet by storm, resonating as a poignant working-class anthem and hitting number one on iTunes in America.

Composed and performed by Virginia musician Oliver Anthony, the song laments the challenges and pitfalls of modernity while offering a visceral insight into the often gritty and thankless lives of people who rarely if ever brush elbows with Beltway or coastal elites.

“Just to be clear: ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ refers to Washington DC politicians. This is in no way a knock against people from up North,” Mr. Anthony wrote in a comment on his YouTube channel, where on Aug. 1 he posted a teaser version of the song.

The full version was posted on the radiowv YouTube channel on Aug. 8, where at the time of reporting it had already amassed nearly 4.4 million views.

“Oliver wants to give hope to the working class and your average hard working young man who may have lost hope in the grind of trying to get by,” reads an explanatory note by the radiowv channel.

‘You Speak for Millions of Us’

Thousands of viewers took to the comments section to praise the musician and his soul-stirring verses (“I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day, overtime hours for [expletive] pay”) that convey a sense of exhaustion and frustration that increasingly reflect the everyday reality of the common man in today’s America.

“I haven’t heard a bone-chilling original song in what seems like decades,” one user wrote. “You speak for millions of us.”

“I’m a 39-year-old Iraq vet and construction worker, struggling like a dog to take care of two kids and keep a farm going when I’m not working 11 hour days,” another shared.

In the lyrics of the song, Mr. Anthony identifies trends buffeting the lives of many Americans, like the rise of the surveillance state, debasement of the dollar, high taxes, and cancel culture:

Livin’ in the new world
With an old soul
These rich men north of Richmond
Lord knows they all just wanna have total control
Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do
And they don’t think you know, but I know that you do
‘Cause your dollar ain’t [expletive] and it’s taxed to no end
‘Cause of rich men north of Richmond

On Thursday, Mr. Anthony took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to announce that the song had been uploaded to all major streaming platforms and thanked fans for their support in making the song go viral.

“I’m still in a state of shock at the outpouring of love I’ve seen in the comments, messages and emails. I’m working to respond to everyone as quickly as possible,” Mr. Anthony wrote.

‘We’re Going to Change Culture’

Conservative influencers and other social media personalities have taken note, helping boost Mr. Anthony’s song across platforms.

Podcast host Joe Rogan shared the song in a post on X, while conservative social media personality Benny Johnson noted in a post that, besides clinching the top spot on iTunes, Mr. Anthony has three songs in the top ten.

“The most famous musicians on earth often never achieve this,” Mr. Johnson wrote.

Some said Mr. Anthony’s song has managed to capture a sentiment pervasive in U.S. politics, namely a backlash to the business-as-usual platform pushed by establishment politicians and power elites.

“Rich Men North of Richmond is a key example of the populist-nationalist vs establishment paradigm,” wrote conservative media personality Jack Posobiec in a post on X. “The anti-establishment message is gaining traction right now, and explains the dynamic we see in the GOP primary where career politicians are struggling against outsiders.”

Jason Howerton, a conservative influencer who said he offered to foot the bill for Mr. Anthony to produce a record, said in a thread on X that he believes songs like “Rich Men North of Richmond” are how “we’re going to change culture.”

Mr. Howerton revealed the background to the song, namely that Mr. Anthony had struggled with mental health and alcohol issues before he “surrendered everything to God” and promised to get sober.

“Oliver was about 30 days sober when someone reached out & asked him to come record a song for his YouTube channel,” Mr. Howerton wrote.

“That song was ‘Rich Men North of Richmond.’ Within days, the song was going VIRAL on social media,” he added.

The chart-topping and viral success of Mr. Anthony’s song follows a similar surge in popularity of the song “Try That in a Small Town,” by country star Jason Aldean, which at the time of reporting was in the top three most popular songs on iTunes.

The full lyrics to the song “Rich Men North of Richmond” are as follows:

I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day
Overtime hours for [expletive] pay
So I can sit out here and waste my life away
Drive back home and drown my troubles away

It’s a damn shame what the world’s gotten to
For people like me and people like you
Wish I could just wake up and it not be true
But it is, oh, it is

Livin’ in the new world
With an old soul
These rich men north of Richmond
Lord knows they all just wanna have total control
Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do
And they don’t think you know, but I know that you do
‘Cause your dollar ain’t [expletive] and it’s taxed to no end
‘Cause of rich men north of Richmond

I wish politicians would look out for miners
And not just minors on an island somewhere
Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothin’ to eat
And the obese milkin’ welfare

Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds
Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds
Young men are puttin’ themselves six feet in the ground
‘Cause all this damn country does is keep on kickin’ them down

Lord, it’s a damn shame what the world’s gotten to
For people like me and people like you
Wish I could just wake up and it not be true
But it is, oh, it is

Livin’ in the new world
With an old soul
These rich men north of Richmond
Lord knows they all just wanna have total control
Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do
And they don’t think you know, but I know that you do
‘Cause your dollar ain’t [expletive] and it’s taxed to no end
‘Cause of rich men north of Richmond

I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day
Overtime hours for [expletive] pay

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.