From the very beginning, Oliver Anthony made it clear that he wasn’t a fan of modern day politicians.
Breaking onto the country music scene with “Rich Men North of Richmond” let everyone know how he felt about Washington D.C, though the message of the song somehow got misconstrued along the way. Anthony and his song made headlines when the politician song was used at the GOP Presidential Debate back in August, and was also played and sang along to by Donald Trump.
As if the song’s message wasn’t clear enough, Oliver Anthony came out afterwards and talked about how he wrote that song about those people, and that hearing them play it at the debate legitimately cracked him up. The success of “Rich Men North of Richmond” has come with all kinds of different political groups trying to co-opt it, and some even condemning it for punching down at the lower class.
Anthony tried to set the record straight about how he feels about politics in a recent interview with Billboard, and though a lot of people would say that his hit song “was on their side,” he was willing to clear the air and say just like his own views, it mainly stays in the middle of the aisle. He was asked about his song being used during the GOP Debate, and this is what he had to say:
“I don’t have anything against conservatives. I think there’s a big difference in today’s time between a conservative and a Republican. If you look at what conservative values are, by definition, I would say none of those candidates, maybe one of them, represents anything close to what a conservative is.
When I knock those people, then the immediate attack that came back after me was like, ‘Oh, he’s against conservatives.’ But most conservatives I know, at least in Virginia, would never vote for anybody that was up on that stage.”
However, as soon as he came out and said that his song wasn’t meant to be a “theme” for the Republican party, people from that side of the aisle (that had just lifted him up) immediately turned on him. With the divisiveness of modern day politics, Anthony was just trying to stay out it, but by saying it wasn’t meant to be used for and by Republicans, he was inadvertently choosing a side. He tried to explain that’s not what he meant to do:
“It’s funny, if I got any backlash at all from that statement, it was people misquoting me, trying to make it seem like I was against conservatives or somehow for, like, Joe Biden. What I’m against is corporate-owned politicians. The whole idea of us having a government and electing representatives is so they can represent us, because we obviously can’t all go to D.C. at one time and have our voice heard.”
So Oliver Anthony isn’t anti-Democrat, or anti-Republican, he’s anti-corporate-owned politicians. That seems like something a lot of people can get behind, political affiliations aside. As you might recall, he never directly sings about a specific political party in “Rich Men North of Richmond,” and though music and art is always left up to interpretation, Anthony wants people to know that there’s one clear thing he’s against:
“And what’s happened is like, 90% of those quote-unquote ‘representatives’ no longer represent us. They’re all bought out by whatever big corporation and they’re given stocks and given benefits, and they’re all filthy rich, and they do what they say, not what we say. It’s not a right or left issue. It’s more of a class versus corporate issue.”
He also added that his friendship with independent presidential hopeful, Robert F. Kennedy, has nothing to do with his politics:
“I was very clear, even when I talked to Bobby, that I don’t want any affiliation with him politically. Whether he becomes president or not, he’s very involved in this idea of a healing center, which is basically a way of combining regenerative agriculture and mental health together. We met specifically to talk about that project… as far as a candidate goes, I’m not really interested. I probably won’t vote for anybody.”
There you go. And while we’re here, we might as well fire up “Rich Men North of Richmond” since we’ve been talking about it so much: