Rich Men North of Richmond Strikes a Nerve in US

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Oliver Anthony’s Viral Breakout Is More Than Just One Song . . . Click Here to Download the Video to Your Phone or Computer!


READ: Oliver Anthony surges to GLOBAL NUMBER ONE on Apple Music

Not many folks would’ve predicted Oliver Anthony would be likely to crash a Billboard Hot 100 race this week including superstars Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen. But that’s exactly what the Appalachian country singer/songwriter (who officially records as Oliver Anthony Music) is doing with his breakout hit “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which is riding waves of working-class frustration, social media virality and critical backlash to the top of the charts this week. 

“Richmond,” an acoustic protest song featuring only Anthony’s voice and his guitar – and decrying the rich, the politicians, and (most controversially) the country’s welfare system – first caught national media attention on Friday (Aug. 11) when it zoomed to No. 1 on the iTunes chart. It’s stayed atop of the iTunes chart since – and has also taken off on streaming, with its daily official on-demand U.S. streams growing to over 3 million on Monday (Aug. 15), according to Luminate. 

What really separates Anthony from other conservative-leaning chart successes of the past few years by Aaron Lewis, Bryson Gray and (most recently) Jason Aldean, though, is how interest has also already spread to the rest of his catalog. “Richmond” is just one of seven of his songs currently in the iTunes top 20 as of publishing – and even discounting the plays of his biggest hit, Anthony has racked up streams in the millions each day since its release, with “Ain’t Gotta Dollar” and “Ive Got to Get Sober” each notching hundreds of thousands of daily plays. (As recently as last Tuesday, Aug. 8, his total daily streams were still under 20,000.) 

In other words, while many of those aforementioned hits burned bright and faded out quickly – even Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” fell out of the top 20 just a week after hitting No. 1 – Anthony is the kind of wide-reaching phenomenon who seems likely to continue generating streams, label interest and discussion (both positive and negative) for many weeks to come. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER

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Lunsford’s song hit number one on the iTunes chart one week ago and was being streamed three million times daily as of last week. The music and lyrics have inspired a remarkably diverse audience of supporters, as shown by the video of reactions to Lunsford, spliced into a viral video by Matt Orfalea above.

To be sure, Lunsford could be a one-hit-wonder. He himself is modest about his abilities. “There's nothing special about me,” he wrote on Facebook. “I'm not a good musician, I'm not a very good person.”

All Lunsford did was produce a hit song, and yet over the last two weeks, journalists have been attacking him as a racist and far-right grifter.

In truth, there’s really only one thing in the song that might be reasonably considered conservative, and that’s a single line criticizing welfare. There’s nothing racist whatsoever in the song.

And if Lunsford is a grifter, he’s not a particularly good one. In his Facebook post, Lunsford said that he lives a 27-foot-long camper that he bought on Craigslist for $750. Its roof is a tarp.

Lunsford says that, in 2010, at the age of 17, he dropped out of high school. His last job was in a paper mill, where he was injured.

“I worked 3rd shift, 6 days a week for $14.50 an hour in a living hell. In 2013, I had a bad fall at work and fractured my skull. It forced me to move back home to Virginia. Due to complications from the injury, it took me 6 months or so before I could work again.”

Apart from being a gifted musician, Lunsford’s struggles are painfully common to those of working-class people in the South. “I've spent the last 5 years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it,” he said. “I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression.”

Lunsford recorded his song under the name of his grandfather, Oliver Anthony. Lunsford said his music “is a dedication not only to him, but 1930's Appalachia where he was born and raised. Dirt floors, seven kids, hard times.”

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The elite media’s attack on Lunsford is typical of today’s ideological dysphoria. Much of what’s in his song would have been considered liberal or even Left-wing not that long ago.

For those of us who have been sounding the alarm about the digital surveillance and censorship state, it was wonderful to hear these lines:

These rich men north of Richmond / Lord knows they all just wanna have total control/

Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do

In his Facebook post, Lunsford wrote, “When are we going to fight for what is right again? MILLIONS have died protecting the liberties we have. Freedom of speech is such a precious gift. Never in world history has the world had the freedom it currently does. Don't let them take it away from you.”

At the same time, Lunsford expressed sadness at the political divisions. “I am sad to see the world in the state it's in, with everyone fighting with each other. I have spent many nights feeling hopeless, that the greatest country on Earth is quickly fading away.”

Lunsford’s song struck a chord because of the growing sense that we don’t know what America is for anymore. It used to be for freedom. But at least half the country doesn’t seem to want freedom any more — at least not for the other half of the country.

“Just like those once wandering in the desert, we have lost our way from God and have let false idols distract us and divide us,” says Lunsford. “It's a damn shame.”

— MS

Oliver Anthony by Tom Zawistowski is licensed under

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