Oliver Anthony released another of his direct-to-camera “It’s a pleasure to meet you” videos, this time recorded in the cab of his truck while rain beats down upon the roof. It is a must-watch and arguably the most clear representation of the Virginia songwriter so far.
In the 10-minute YouTube clip, the Virginia songwriter, who skyrocketed into the public consciousness and even the Republican presidential debate, talks at length about the viral success of “Rich Men North of Richmond” and how it’s been co-opted by the very people he sings about in its lyrics: politicians on both sides of the aisle.
“The one thing that has bothered me is seeing people wrap politics up in this,” he says. “It’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me like I’m one of them. It’s aggravating seeing certain musicians and politicians act like we’re buddies and act like we’re fighting the same struggle here, like we’re trying to present the same message.”
Anthony, who previously said he was down the middle politically, laughed at how “Rich Men North of Richmond” was used in the first question of Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate (which Donald Trump, arrested for the fourth time on Thursday, skipped for an interview with Tucker Carlson). “I wrote that song about those people. So for [the candidates] to have to sit there and listen to that, that cracks me up,” he says. “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, not just them, but definitely them.”
But Anthony also had words for those on the left who, according to him, misinterpreted “Rich Men North of Richmond,” particularly a verse about welfare and the poor. He says the lyric about the “obese milking welfare” by using tax money to buy “Fudge Rounds” was in response to an article he read about the percentage of welfare money spent on snack food and soda.
“If we can fuel a proxy war in a foreign land, but we can’t take care of our own, that’s all the song is trying to say,” Anthony says. “That the government takes people who are needy and dependent and makes them needy and dependent.”
Driven in part by a wealth of digital downloads, “Rich Men North of Richmond” is the Number One song on Billboard’s Hot 100 and is poised for a second week atop the chart. In his video, Anthony, getting choked up with tears, says that (like the Bible verse he read before a show last week in North Carolina) is meaningless to him.
“I don’t deserve to sit in the Top 5 places on the iTunes charts and the truth is I can really give a shit less about the iTunes charts,” he says. “What I care about is connecting with people.”
Anthony has done minimal press so far, chatting briefly with Fox News after his North Carolina concert last Saturday and apparently sitting for an interview with Bari Weiss’s The Free Press.
Instead, he mostly seems to be letting his direct-to-camera videos do the talking, along with his music. He promises more songs are on the way: “I’m gonna write, produce and distribute authentic music that represents people and not politics.”