The Virginia native blew up seemingly overnight after RadioWV posted a video of his original song, “Rich Men North of Richmond,” a scathing rebuke of the DC political class that resonated with disaffected middle-class workers.
Since being posted just under two weeks ago, the original video alone has already racked up over 32 million views (two million in just the past day), and the song has over 15 million streams on Spotify.
So the song clearly resonated with a ton of people.
But others have taken to social media to criticize “Rich Men North of Richmond,” singling out one particular verse in the song as unfairly criticizing welfare recipients:
“We got folks in the streets ain’t got nothin’ to eat And the obese milkin’ welfare God, if you’re 5’3 and 300 lbs Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds”
The line has spawned countless “fudge round” memes from people mocking the song and Anthony’s sudden rise to fame. And now, Dwight Schrute has given his thoughts on the matter too.
If you’re a fan of The Office you’re no doubt familiar with Rainn Wilson, who starred as Michael Scott’s assistant (to the) regional manager throughout the show’s 9 season run.
And Wilson recently took to Twitter to give his thoughts on Oliver Anthony’s viral hit:
“If I were writing a song about “rich men north of richmond” I wouldnt talk about obese people on welfare, I’d sing about CEOs who make 400 times their average workers salary (up from 50 times 30 years ago) & corps that pay zero taxes & offshore tax shelters for billionaires.”
If I were writing a song about “rich men north of richmond” I wouldnt talk about obese people on welfare, I’d sing about CEOs who make 400 times their average workers salary (up from 50 times 30 years ago) & corps that pay zero taxes & offshore tax shelters for billionaires.
Many accused Wilson of being out of touch with his own response, given that he’s an actor with a multi-million dollar net worth trying to relate with a song that was written for the working class:
Perhaps your $16 million net worth is clouding this, but when people like Oliver Anthony look to their left and right for neighbors to fight back against the system with & instead see are welfare-addicted gluttons who won’t fight against a system that is drugging them physically,…
If I were a Hollywood actor worth several millions, I’d shit on a seemingly overnight viral song by an Appalachian ex-factory worker, that seems to be uniting Americans of many colors, cultures, and walks of life.
Regardless of what people like Wilson think, the song has clearly touched a nerve with a lot of people, and it’s not showing signs of slowing down any time soon.
Who Is Oliver Anthony?
Through all of the viral success, we haven’t really learned much about Oliver Anthony himself. So last week he took to Facebook to introduce himself to the world.
In the post, Anthony reveals that his real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford, and that the Oliver Anthony name is a tribute to his late grandfather.
“My legal name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. My grandfather was Oliver Anthony, and “Oliver Anthony Music” is a dedication not only to him, but 1930’s Appalachia where he was born and raised. Dirt floors, seven kids, hard times.
At this point, I’ll gladly go by Oliver because everyone knows me as such. But my friends and family still call me Chris. You can decide for yourself, either is fine.”
He also reveals that he dropped out of high school, getting his GED and working a number of factory jobs in North Carolina until he was forced to move back home to Virginia in 2013 due to a skull fracture he suffered during a severe fall at work:
“In 2010, I dropped out of high school at age 17. I have a GED from Spruce Pine, NC. I worked multiple plant jobs in Western NC, my last being at the paper mill in McDowell county. I worked 3rd shift, 6 days a week for $14.50 an hour in a living hell.
In 2013, I had a bad fall at work and fractured my skull. It forced me to move back home to Virginia. Due to complications from the injury, it took me 6 months or so before I could work again.”
Since then, he’s been working a sales job in the industrial manufacturing industry, although it sounds like he’s since left that job after his viral fame.
He says that it was in this job where he heard so many people with the same story: They were tired of being forgotten and manipulated by politicians.
Anthony also says that he bought a piece of land in his home state for $97,500 in 2019 (which he still owes $60,000 on), and that he’s been living in a 27′ camper that he got off of Craigslist for $750.
Surely his newfound fame has presented him with a lot of new and unexpected opportunities, but Anthony says that he’s not interested in being a superstar – even revealing that he’s turned down $8 million offers since his viral fame:
“People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers. I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight.
I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression. These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung.
No editing, no agent, no bullshit. Just some idiot and his guitar. The style of music that we should have never gotten away from in the first place.”
He also admits that he’s spent the last five years struggling with addiction and mental health issues, but that he’s frustrated with what’s going on in the world and the division he sees on the internet:
“There’s nothing special about me. I’m not a good musician, I’m not a very good person. I’ve spent the last 5 years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it.
I am sad to see the world in the state it’s in, with everyone fighting with each other. I have spent many nights feeling hopeless, that the greatest country on Earth is quickly fading away.
That being said, I HATE the way the Internet has divided all of us. The Internet is a parasite, that infects the minds of humans and has their way with them. Hours wasted, goals forgotten, loved ones sitting in houses with each other distracted all day by technology made by the hands of other poor souls in sweat shops in a foreign land.”
And he ends by lamenting that division with a now-familiar line from his song:
“When is enough, enough? When are we going to fight for what is right again? MILLIONS have died protecting the liberties we have. Freedom of speech is such a precious gift. Never in world history has the world had the freedom it currently does. Don’t let them take it away from you.
Just like those once wandering in the desert, we have lost our way from God and have let false idols distract us and divide us.
It’s a damn shame.”
I’m sure we’ll be learning a lot more about Oliver Anthony (or Christopher Anthony Lunsford) in the coming weeks and months – especially if he’s getting $8 million offers from record labels – but for now, at least we know a little more about the guy who’s taken over the internet for the past week.