Oliver Anthony has been consistent since his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” became a viral sensation: He’s not calling out one side or the other.
Of course the split in public opinion has largely fallen along party lines, with conservatives embracing the song as a rebuke of DC politicians while liberals criticize Anthony for “punching down” at those abusing welfare.
But through all of the song’s success (it currently sits at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart) and controversy, Oliver Anthony himself (whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford) has insisted that the song isn’t about left vs. right, but is rather an anthem for the working class who are too often forgotten by the political class.
Anthony has previously said that he sits “dead center” politically.
“I’ll say this, I sit pretty dead center down the aisle on politics and always have.
I remember as a kid, the Conservatives wanting war and me not understanding that, and I remember a lot of the controversies when the Left took office, and it seems like both sides serve the same master and that master is not someone of any good to the people of this country.”
So when “Rich Men North of Richmond” came up as the subject of the first question at the GOP presidential primary debate this past week, Anthony said he got a good laugh out of it:
“It was funny seeing my song in the presidential debate, because it’s like, I wrote that song about those people. So for them to have to sit there and listen to that, that cracks me up.
But it was funny seeing the response to it. That song has nothing to do with Joe Biden. It’s a lot bigger than Joe Biden.
That song was written about the people on that stage. And a lot more too, not just them, but definitely them.”
He also said it’s hard to sum up your political ideology in three minutes, so he hates seeing the song become politicized:
“It’s hard to get a message out about your political ideology or your belief about the world in three minutes and some change.
But I do hate to see that song being weaponized. I see the right trying to characterize me as one of their own, and I see the left trying to discredit me, I guess in retaliation. That shit’s gotta stop.”
And he also had a message for those who claim the song is attacking the poor:
“There may be some people who misunderstood my words in “Rich Men North of Richmond.” But I’ve got to be clear that my message, like with any of my songs, it references the inefficiencies of the government because of the politicians within it that are engulfed in bribes and extortion.”
He goes on to explain the line about welfare is a reference to a news article he read about children missing meals over the summer because their parents can’t afford to feed them, yet meanwhile “30-40% of the food bought with welfare…is in a classification of snack food and soda.”
“That’s not the fault of those people. Welfare only makes up a small percentage of our budget. We can fuel a proxy war in a foreign land, but we can’t take care of our own. That’s all the song was trying to say.
It’s just saying that the government takes people who are needy independent and makes them needy and dependent.”
Anthony said that he’ll have more to say about his lyrics in the future, but for now, he’s just getting a good laugh that it’s made its way to the very “Rich Men North of Richmond” that he’s calling out.