By Neenah Payne
Oliver Anthony: Rich Men North of Richmond – Activist Post discusses the sudden explosion of the popularity of country singer Oliver Anthony when his tune “Rich Men North of Richmond” went viral in early August. Anthony was quickly embraced by many conservatives although he considers himself politically neutral. There’s been a lot of discussion of Anthony’s message.
What is Anthony telling us? What does he think is wrong with the world and how can those issues be addressed? This article discusses how Anthony went from suicidal to inspired and what his message for the world is now. Anthony pointed out in his interview with Dr. Jordan B. Peterson on September 7 that after his tune went viral, his dream was to do an interview with Joe Rogan and with Dr. Peterson whose work he has followed for years. Anthony has now appeared on both shows.
Oliver Anthony Says U.S. Government ‘Isn’t Serving Anyone Correctly’ By Shannon Power 9/8/23 (see video at link)
Oliver Anthony has once again spoken about his views on American politics, vowing he was not a “fence sitter.” “When I look at Republicans and Democrats in 2023, what I see is people who are bitter and angry and disgusted with a system that isn’t serving anyone correctly,” he said on psychologist Jordan Peterson‘s podcast.
The overnight country music sensation and Peterson covered topics ranging from religion to art and Anthony’s meteoric rise to fame.
Anthony—whose given name is Christopher Lunsford—went viral in early August when his working-class anthem, “Rich Men North of Richmond,” was shared by podcaster Joe Rogan on X, formerly Twitter. He saw his Spotify subscribers go from 374 to more than four million in just three weeks.
Since his rise to fame, people on both sides of the political spectrum have either lauded him or criticized his lyrics and comments in interviews. While he vowed to no longer talk about politics publicly because of the intense scrutiny, he opened up on his values with Peterson.
Calling for an end to major ideological differences, Anthony called for people to come together using “entrepreneurial skills” to rebuild “our political climate and our country.” “We were using our bitterness as a weapon against each other,” Anthony told Peterson. “Rich Men of North Richmond” takes aim at taxation, the obese, “welfare cheats” and makes references to conspiracy group, QAnon.
“I think obviously a lot of people understand what it is I’m trying to say or what my message is within the song, but it has been interesting seeing both sides also attack me [and] misinterpreting that I’m identifying with the other,” Anthony said.
“Even just recently, I’ve had some conservatives give me grief for making the comment that we’re stronger… through diversity, which really resonates on what the point is. We need to have people that think differently, use those strengths to work together in a way that makes us all stronger.”
Anthony said: “But I think people are so used to hearing that as a sort of a left-wing rhetoric that they immediately identified it as that.” He said that on the “flip side,” he’s had the left attacking him as being “far right-wing”, but it’s a moot point because Anthony believed “at some point, we’ve got to figure out a way to leap out of that.”
“It’s important that we have politics and we have a system in which we decide how different ideas are implemented in the government but it can’t rule us either,” Anthony said. “We’ve allowed it to almost encapsulate all of us like become a sort of the ceiling under which we live under.”
Anthony addressed claims he was a “fence sitter” and responded by saying society needs “to take a step back and re-envision what we want the next 20 or 30 years to look like.” This may be the last time Anthony speaks about his political beliefs because he said he would do one more podcast about it after appearing on Rogan’s The Joe Rogan Experience in late August.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m very grateful for all of YOU who showed the support to make this possible,” he wrote on Instagram about his experience on the podcast.
“I am scheduling one final podcast after Rogan, that can deep dive into the nitty gritty it seems people are so desperately trying to understand. I’m simultaneously being labeled a far right extremist and a liberal by the powers at be. 🤣 I love it. They are doing everything they can to cause division.
“You deserve to understand exactly what it is I am, without internet trolls and corporate news speculating for you. After that, I’ll focus exclusively on songwriting and playing shows. Love y’all. Thank you.”
Since his track “Rich Men North of Richmond” went viral last week, Oliver Anthony has racked up a host of new fans—including some famous faces.
The country singer, who debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, took over iTunes, reached the top of Spotify’s Top 50—USA playlist, and has become popular among conservatives. So far, fans of Anthony’s music include Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh and conservative politician Majorie Taylor Greene, who called it “the anthem of forgotten Americans.”
Despite its popularity, the song’s lyrics have been deemed controversial and populist. But where does Anthony, a former factory worker living in Farmville, Virginia, stand on the political spectrum?
Since footage of Anthony singing was first shared by online music channel radiowv on August 7, the track has received praise from conservatives for its lyrics. “Rich Men North of Richmond” rails against taxation, welfare cheats, makes references to QAnon and Jeffrey Epstein, and slams the overweight—topics popular amongst conservatives.
“I wish politicians would look out for minors, and not just miners on an island somewhere,” Anthony sings in the viral clip, which has received over 31 million views. The lyrics “But God if you’re five foot three, And you’re three hundred pounds, Taxes ought not to pay, For your bags of fudge rounds,” have been decried as fatphobic by some online.
However, in a video shared on YouTube the day before the song was released, Anthony said that he views himself as “dead center.” Newsweek has reached out to Oliver Anthony for comment.
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) August 11, 2023
What Are Oliver Anthony’s Political Beliefs?
In the clip titled “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Anthony said he found an “outlet” in music during the pandemic. He recorded tracks on his cell phone and uploaded them online, where they began to gain traction. “I started getting messages from people saying how much the music was helping them with their struggles and their lives,” he said in the footage. “It really gave me a purpose.”
Anthony also said that we are “living in dark times” and “this is really just the beginning of what’s to come.” He talked about meeting people on job sites struggling to make ends meet, which he blames on taxation. He said that “Rich Men North of Richmond” discusses human trafficking, although he doesn’t elaborate on the topic in the video.
“I sit pretty dead-center down the aisle on politics and always have,” he said. Anthony recalls growing up with the “conservatives wanting war,” which he didn’t understand, and “a lot of controversies when the left took office.”
“It seems like both sides serve the same master,” he said. “And that master is not someone of any good to the people of this country.”
Anthony was also interviewed by Fox News host Griff Jenkins for Fox & Friends on August 20. Ahead of his concert in Moyock, North Carolina, Anthony said he wanted people to “find similarities with each other instead of division.”
“I believe God put this message out for people just to give them some hope,” he told the reporter.
“If we continue on the path that we’re going down now, culturally, we won’t have a country in very long.”
Why Oliver Anthony Shared His Music
Anthony embraces faith after being turned off in the past by ‘man-made religion’
Saving Country Music founder Kyle ‘Trigger’ Coroneos examines Oliver Anthony’s success
‘I’ve definitely never seen something on the scale of virality,’ Coroneos said.
Rising star Oliver Anthony said in a new interview he thought he may die last year from his body simply shutting down from years of stress and just hoped his music would last beyond him. Anthony said that years of anxiety and depression had contributed to constant “brain fog” and even “chest pains” that left him scared for his life.
Now, after the viral sensation “Rich Men North of Richmond” and the discovery of his other music, he’s soared to the top of the charts and become an icon for a working class that feels beat down and left behind by Washington politicians of both parties. “I was feeling like my body was starting to fall apart, and it got to a point where I was questioning how much longer I’d be able to be around and sing these songs and do this stuff, so I was like, ‘Well, let me just go ahead and start getting everything uploaded, so at least if, God forbid, I die of a heart attack in my thirties, there’s some legacy there,’” he told The Free Press.
Anthony’s song, which has been viewed more than 45 million times on YouTube alone, laments working-class ills such as not being able to get ahead, substance abuse, greedy politicians and the suicide epidemic. The song has become a sensation, prompting emotional response videos, testimonials from all walks of life and a blitz of media coverage and analysis of why his song has touched on blue-collar life in such a meaningful way. Anthony’s other music has been discovered as a result and also become popular. He’s been open about past alcohol and drug use and has credited his turn to his faith as helping turn his life around.
Oliver Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Lunsford, discusses the cultural response to “Rich Men North of Richmond” in a YouTube video filmed in his truck. (YouTube / Screenshot)
The 31-year-old farmer said he began drinking and using marijuana in his 20s, and it was difficult for a time to embrace his Christian faith because he associated religion with the politicians he derides as hypocrites. Now, he prays before recording songs and opened a concert earlier this month with a reading from the Book of Psalms.
“I was obviously introduced to the concept of God and religion as a kid, and I think I was turned off to it growing up,” Anthony said. “The reason I was always so reluctant to accept God as God is because it meant I had to accept all those people that I didn’t quite agree with as being correct—you know, I falsely associated man-made religion and some of the things that go along with it with the concept of Jesus Christ and God in general.”
Anthony’s stunning rise is inextricably linked to the public viewing him as a genuine voice of the working class. His acoustic version of “Rich Men” was filmed on his Virginia farm and simply featured him and his resonator guitar. He’s said he isn’t interested in lucrative music industry deals and simply wants to connect with people, and connect people to one another as well. He’s also discussed his past employment that included a “living hell” at a paper mill in North Carolina and once fracturing his skull in 2013 that forced him to move home to Virginia. He currently lives on farmland he paid $97,500 for, inside a 27-foot camper with a tarp on the roof.
It was revealed in the story that Anthony – whose real name is Christopher Lunsford and whose stage name is a namesake tribute to his grandfather – is married with two children, with another on the way. Anthony also reiterated in his new interview that he wants to steer clear of politics, hoping his message will transcend the usual political binary.
In a video posted to YouTube on Friday, Anthony responded to his song’s inclusion at last week’s GOP debate, saying his song was actually about politicians like those on the stage. He also criticized left-wing outlets that have accused him demonizing the poor, saying his music has always sided with those in poverty. “You could find the most perfect human being in the world and put them in the White House,” he told The Free Press. “The problem isn’t the White House or the federal government. The problem is us—like human to human is where we fix our country. We don’t need the government to save us. We just need to save each other.”
Oliver Anthony’s Miraculous Conversion
Oliver Anthony is a singer/songwriter whose song “Rich Men North of Richmond” recently became a viral phenomenon. He’s the first songwriter to debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with no prior chart history in any form.
For the first hour of Joe Rogan’s 2.5-hour interview with Oliver Anthony, they discuss cars and films. About an hour into the interview, Rogan points out that when he posted information about Anthony on Instagram, it got 12.8 million views! Anthony said he tries to stay off social media as much as possible.
“Oliver Anthony” is the stage name Christopher Anthony Lunsford chose for his music company because it was his grandfather’s name. Family and friends still call him “Chris.” He dropped out of high school in 2010 when he was 17, but later earned his GED. He took several jobs with blue collar workers who became a significant inspiration for his song writing. In the last six years, Anthony has been in industrial sales where he made good money and got to talk with a wide range of people from different walks of life – not just blue collar workers. He loved his job because he worked on industrial sites and in hospitals. He discovered that most people are tired of the way things are now.
Anthony suffered a head injury, an internal fracture, when he fell and hit his head while working in a factory. He was bleeding from his head in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and was in the hospital for 2-3 days. Before the accident, he was totally fine. However, for a year after that, his memory was trash and he had seizures and really bad balance with a lot of inflammation in his brain. He found that SSRIs didn’t help him and actually undermined his ability to function in many key ways.
Because he was having daily panic attacks and other mental health issues, he turned to alcohol and smoking cannabis to deal with the stress. He grew a lot of pounds of weed and smoking CBD flour gave him a lot of relief although it didn’t fix the problem. It didn’t get him high and it reduced inflammation.
Until his conversation with Rogan, it had never occurred to Anthony that his physical, mental, and emotional problems could have been a result of the head injury. He said that on paper things had looked good because he has a great marriage and kids and a lucrative job, but he was dealing with heart issues and depression. He was taking aspirin because he thought he was going to have a heart attack.
He uploaded his songs because he was worried he might not survive long. Anthony explained that he has never had any vocal lessons. He recorded “Ain’t Gotta Dollar” with the microphone on his cell phone! So, it had no production. Yet, the video of the song has hit 7 million views! ! He had never performed before a large audience until his songs went viral. Rogan advised Anthony not to sign any record deals because they are really loans.
Anthony said he’s good now. He said, “Giving things to God alleviated 99% of the problems.” He decided to let go of his ego. He just wanted to serve whatever purpose he is here to serve. He got a very warm feeling throughout and was crying like a baby. He said that warm feeling has not gone away.
Anthony said, “I’m not the kind of guy who can play in front of 12,000 people. I had never played a paid gig. When we played the show at the farm market, that was my first paid gig. I’m not a guy to play live shows, but I can tell you, I was just so at peace being up there. There’s no way that Chris from six months ago could have handled what’s gone on in the last two weeks. That guy found a lot of peace from looking at this book [as he touched his Bible].
Anthony pointed out, “I had been in church growing up and I had been exposed to all that, but I had found a lot of theatrics and a lot of politics in church and in religion when I was young. So, it just immediately turned me off to it.” He said he had been reading the Bible off and on then because he had been introduced to it as a kid.
Anthony went to the ER because he thought he was going to die at age 31. He was having shooting pains up and down his body. After that, he had a break down moment in his truck. He was crying because he felt hopeless like a 4-year-old who can’t find his parents. He didn’t have anything left in him.
He decided right then and there, “I know I can’t do this anymore.” He knew there were things he needed to do and told God to just let him do it. He promised to give up the weed and to quit getting drunk. He promised to quit being so angry and to start over. He promised to make God the focus instead of himself. He tried to let his ego and everything he was go.
Anthony said he feels that we are in such a weird place in the world now that he feels God is working through certain people to get His point across. He just changed his perspective. He quit worrying about himself and began to focus on what he’s supposed to do.
You know it talks in the Bible about being a servant. I guess my desire, and my will, and whatever I want to do, it’s about using what I have as a tool versus doing what I can in the moment to give myself whatever satisfaction I’m trying to get. It’s about trying to let go of your ego, I guess. The idea of there being something bigger than you.
I think all human beings inherently idolize something. It talks in the Bible about false idols. We all have false idols – whether it’s our phone or a celebrity, or something we do, or our addiction to food or drugs, or whatever. It’s very difficult for a human to be the biggest thing on their hierarchy. There’s always something above us. We’re always in pursuit of something bigger than whatever it is in that moment. I think for me it was just about taking all the distractions and all the other things in my life away.
We all sin and do stupid things. We’re all just people. Nobody’s special or righteous.
We’re all just the same thing, but it’s just about trying to make God and what He wants done on this Earth my idol versus anything else. We all serve some master whether we realize it or not. So, why not let it be the Master that is above all?
Anthony explained to Rogan,
Now, I don’t read scripture because I feel like I should read it to be a better person. I try to read it for the guidance within it. I’m still in the infancy stages of a lot of this. I’ve read a lot of Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes – Luke and other good books – I’m just trying to restructure on a granular level the neural pathways in my brain that have certain habits of thought. I’ve tried to retrain that.
Anthony reaches for his Bible and says, “I’ll be very brief with this – I promise.” He chose Proverbs 420 – the date which he laughingly points out is associated with hemp which he thought Rogan would appreciate!
My son, pay attention to what I say. Turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight. Keep them in your heart. They are life to those who find them and to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart. Everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free from perversity. Keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead. Fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the past and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or to the left. Keep your foot from evil.
Rogan found the passage profound. Anthony said, “The whole book of Proverbs is like that. It’s not preachy. It’s like good guidance that you would like a father to give to his son.”
Anthony discussed his experience with his faith in the last 60 days. He recently gave his life to God because he was a crackhead wasting his life away and he broke down. When he started reading scripture every day – particularly the Psalms – he stopped getting high. Two weeks later, he had the #1 song in the world! Anthony said since he had found a lot of theatrics and politics in church, he hasn’t gone to church in about 10 years. He recommends reading Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Anthony’s goal was to show the practicality of the message and the everyday guidance and real life advice it provides.
Anthony’s message may serve as a lifeline for many Americans strung out on drugs or addicted to alcohol. He is a voice for the millions of Americans in despair for a variety of reasons including those put out of work by the lockdown and other aspects of the COVID policies.
Anthony says that the old Chris could not have handled all this reaction to his posting his songs. His hit song “Rich Men North of Richmond” is not his favorite. He prefers “Ain’t Got a Dollar” but his favorite is “Doggonit.” Anthony said he has done four shows so far and has spent a lot of time talking to people after the shows which he has greatly enjoys.
Top image: FaithPot
Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post
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