The sudden viral success of country singer Oliver Anthony is a rare feel-good story in the culture war. Or at least it was, until Rolling Stone decided to roll all over it with their craven woke filth.
In case you’ve missed it, Oliver Anthony was an unknown musician until his track ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ went viral this week on Twitter, having been boosted by prominent American conservatives who related to the song’s lyrics about government authoritarianism, excessive taxes, Epstein’s island, and obese people on welfare (“If you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds/ Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds”).
From being a struggling strummer with a day job in a factory, Anthony now has 160,000 followers and counting, and an offer of a studio album to be produced by country star John Rich.
The song is in the great American tradition of self-reliance that, while not partisan, is inherently conservative. Furthermore, since the Left currently hold the levers of power, the targets of censorship and corruption can’t help but seem like threats to the Democrat regime.
But it is also just a great song. Musically it’s simple, just four chords in the key of G minor, by my calculations. (For guitar nerds, he is playing it with a capo at the fifth fret, and looking at the chord shapes, he must be tuned down a step, which is common on the kind of Resonator guitar he is playing… I include this because it is far more musical information than Rolling Stone managed to cover in their entire article. But we’ll get to that.)
The vocal is the most impressive part, with Anthony clearly able to hit the notes, but also convey the authenticity that comes from hard-won experience. When he sings “I’ve been selling my soul/ Working all day/ Overtime hours/ For bullsh*t, pay” we are in absolutely no doubt that that is indeed what he’s been doing.
With its minimalist accompaniment and raw emotion, the song is in that darker, cooler tradition of country that now sits alongside its more slick-sounding examples. This is Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley, maybe even Will Oldham, more than it is Garth Brooks or Josh Turner. Or for that matter Jason Aldean, whose ‘Try That in a Small Town’ was great fun for its trolling of the libs, but musically belonged to the corporate side of country. ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’, on the other hand, is actually great art.
Rolling Stone do not care about any of this, of course. They only care about rectifying the political damage caused by an ordinary man speaking out, or in this case singing out, against the Regime.
They criticise Anthony’s “Reagan-era talking points” (as if that is what Anthony had in mind) with the effete tone only the media elite can muster. They also seem vaguely offended by Anthony’s calling out of Epstein (“I wish politicians would look out for miners/ And not just minors on an island somewhere”). Perhaps Epstein is still a beloved figure for Democrats, as Rolling Stone refers rather ambiguously to Anthony’s scathing lyrics as a “real head-turner”.
And it is not mentioned in the piece, but no doubt the fact that Anthony turned to God to end his alcoholism, and a few weeks later was rewarded with this hit song, is not something Rolling Stone would be able to countenance.
They do point out Anthony has called himself “pretty dead centre down the aisle on politics”, and that “it seems like both sides serve the same master – and that master is not someone of any good to the people of this country”.
I’m sure that’s absolutely true, and that Anthony is not going to campaign for the Republicans any time soon.
But by being clearly opposed to whatever that thing is that’s immiserating the majority of us, call it the Regime, the Deep State, the Cathedral, the Blob, the Globalist agenda, etc., his song has resonated with American conservatives, who are now the outsiders in a country that seeks to put their leader in jail, while their enemy in the White House seems to flaunt the untouchable corruption of his decadent family.
And there is also something else going on here, something that has establishment ‘entertainment’ rags worried. It is that this loose conservative movement is finally acting upon Breitbart’s famous claim that “politics is downstream of culture”.
Major players are realising that they need to make, or at very least enthusiastically promote (Rolling Stone would say co-opt) art that seems to be directionally on their side.
Anthony can call himself a centrist, and that’s his business. Certainly it’s smart for musicians not to alienate either side, as Taylor Swift used to know until her perhaps inevitable capitulation. We have seen Bruce Springsteen castigate Trump in the most cringe-inducing terms, despite the men he sings about being the kind of people who would vote Trump any day of the week.
So no one needs Anthony to come out in favour of a particular party. However, it seems that country, one of the great American contributions to music, has stepped into the territory abandoned by the corporate sell-outs and is now giving a resolutely blue-collar ‘f*** you’ to the out of touch architects of Western decline and despair.
With Oliver Anthony, we have an authentic artist for our times. Telling is like it is, whoever that may upset, and – so fittingly for a lone travelling singer – speaking out for the plight of the individual against the oppressive apparatus of power.
And, yes, having a pop at fat people and peados while he’s at it.