Oliver Anthony Speaks Out: “I Wrote That Song About Those People” on the GOP Stage

by | Aug 26, 2023 | AMERICANA & BLUES, MUSIC, POLITICS, VIRGINIA POLITICS

In an irony rich enough to fuel a sequel to his chart-topping hit, Oliver Anthony, the artist behind “Rich Men North of Richmond,” is pushing back against an unexpected and, in his own words, “aggravating” endorsement by Republican elites. The song, featured prominently in this week’s GOP 2024 primary debate, was initially penned as a critique of the powerful—regardless of their political affiliation, which we mentioned in our original story on the meteoric rise of the song HERE.

“It was funny seeing my song … at the presidential debate. ‘Cause it’s like, I wrote that song about those people,” Oliver Anthony disclosed on his YouTube channel.

This runaway hit, while taken up as a conservative anthem targeting figures such as President Biden, actually serves a broader critique. “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 … Not just them, but definitely them,” Anthony clarified in the same video.

ed. note: He gave further clarification this morning on instagram to state the song is about “corporate owned DC politicians on both sides.”

Fox News moderator Martha MacCallum, questioning the candidates on stage in Milwaukee, posited that the lyrics speak “of alienation, of deep frustration with the state of government and of this country. Washington, D.C., is about 100 miles north of Richmond,” thereby suggesting a thematic relevance that resonates with a national audience.

To this, Anthony responded, “The one thing that has bothered me is seeing people wrap politics up into this. It’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me like I’m one of them.”

In the days leading up to the debate, the song gained considerable traction on social platforms and became a recurring topic on various Fox News programs. Media Matters reports that the network dedicated no less than three hours to dissecting Anthony’s hit in the days preceding the debate. High-profile figures from the conservative media landscape, including podcaster Joe Rogan, Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham, and commentators Matt Walsh and Ben Shapiro, have also weighed in with commendations.

Not stopping there, the artist also decried attempts to leverage the song’s newfound fame for personal relevance. “I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and I tried to be polite to everybody, and I’ve talked to hundreds of people the last two weeks, and it seems like certain people want to just ride the attention of the song to maybe make their own selves relevant, and that’s aggravating as hell,” he added.

Caught in the crossfire of partisan politics, Anthony is candid about his discomfort. “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 s—‘s gotta stop.”

For Oliver Anthony, his song—originally aimed at indicting the elite on both sides of the aisle—has now become a political football, subject to the very machinations it aimed to expose. Far from just a footnote in the cultural conversation, this episode amplifies the complexities and pitfalls of creating art in a politically charged environment.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




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