Oliver Anthony burst into the spotlight with his debut release “Rich Men North of Richmond.” Although he never had any music affiliations before, the song blew up to mass over 4 million views in three days since its release and paved the path for a new star.
Oliver Anthony is from Farmville, Virginia, USA. In a recording released by Oliver, since his song went viral, he says that he has been writing music since 2021, when the pandemic hindered everyone’s daily routines. So, he has a mass of originals to be released and things are looking good from the jump.
In the same video, Oliver Anthony goes on to say that he is going to make it a mission to write, record, produce, and release as many original songs as he possibly can with the hope that some of them could help anyone who needs it. He has been uploading some of these songs on his YouTube since 2022, which have gained little to no traction.
“Rich Men North of Richmond” talks about the struggles of the working class of America (pretty much everywhere else as well). Poor working conditions, extended working hours, and bare minimum wage to add on top of it, have been the name of the game for blue-collar workers. In the video, Oliver Anthony explains how his 12-hour shift and 6 days a week job at a factory, inspired this song;
it touches on my time in Western North Carolina working at the factory. It talks about some people who lived North of Richmond, Virginia, who I’m sure are very well aware of, who makes life a little more difficult than it should be…The last part of the song touches on suicide rates and really on mental health and depression. There’s no reason why young men and women in this country should be commiting suicide. There’s obviously a problem.
Listen to “Rich Men North of Richmond” by Oliver Anthony
Oliver Anthony “Rich Men North of Richmond” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
In the first verse of the song, Oliver Anthony gets right into the thick of the problem of all working-class people–low pay for extreme labor. And what’s it worth at the end of the day? Buy some groceries and beers and the money vanishes. During the pandemic, a lot of people did lose their jobs. The rest, while counting blessings to have a job, still went to work risking their lives. A lot of people did lose their lives during work, too.
It pains to see that some people spend 12 hours or even more at work just to come home, spend their hard-earned money on food, and go to work the next morning. It is a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ is interpreted to have two narratives. First, Washington DC, the capital of the United States, lies directly north of Richmond, VA. Aligning with the theme of the song, Washington is responsible for policymaking that affects the welfare of the people in the country but always seems to have a hidden agenda behind them. The rich and crooked politicians always seem to serve one master despite the different colors they wear.
The second narrative to ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ dates back to the American Civil War (1861-1865). The war was waged between two parties–the North (also known as the Union formed by the United States of America or the northern territories from Virginia) and the South (also known as the Confederacy formed by eleven states where slavery was legalized). At the time, Richmond was the largest city in Virginia and essentially formed the northernmost border of the Confederacy, thus anything north of Richmond marked the anti-slave states. The North eventually won the war which lead to the abolishment of slavery across the United States.
Lord knows they all just wanna have total control
Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do
Regardless of which interpretation you chose to adopt, politicians do work for self-interest and self-preservation. To do this, they want to know everything and they want to control everything. There are numerous conspiracy theories on how the Covid-19 pandemic itself was a fear tactic by governments around the world. All our personal data is anyway being tracked all across the internet and through our mobile phones. True privacy is dead today.
In the second verse, Oliver Anthony talks about the Jeffrey Epstein scandal where he ran a ring of pedophile operations on remote islands. Allegedly these islands were frequented by powerful people, often politicians. To nobody’s surprise, Epstein was found dead in his jail cell soon after his arrest, so a long list of potential clients of his was forever buried. We all have to question the intentions and integrity of the people who are making decisions that affect all of us on a day-to-day basis. Where is our tax money going?
Oliver Anthony also touches on the systematic abuse of welfare by most people around the country. Some just sit on their behinds all day and collect welfare and drink themselves to sickness. Now, hard-working taxpayers have to pay more taxes to put that person through free healthcare. It seems like no matter how much more you work or earn, we are never able to see an end to this rut.
Lastly, Oliver touches on youth suicides in the country. A record-high of 50,000 suicides were recorded in the USA in 2022. Oliver believes a major reason for this is the systematic entrapment of the youth into this rat race that they are not built to tolerate. Starting from student loan debts, youth enter the world as debtors, and a lot of them get trapped in a lifetime of suffering due to this. Maybe, if politicians paid more attention to miners (and other working classes) than minors, some of this burden could have been lifted. Guess, we will never know.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Read the complete lyrics to the song on Genius.