"It's crazy for me because I remember back in June I played here for about 20 people," Oliver Anthony recalled Monday at his first public appearance since his song Rich Men North of Richmond went viral overnight. Anthony read a passage from the Bible at Morris Farms, in front of a packed venue, and invited his fans to sing along. He was surprised by singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson who came for a surprise performance:
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) August 13, 2023
The Farmville, Virginia blue-collar worker's song skyrocketed to number one on iTunes, according to PopVortex. Anthony also has second and third place in the ranking with Ain't Gotta Dollar and I've Got to Get Sober, bumping Taylor Swift to fourth place. (In fifth place is Jason Aldean, with Try That In A Small Town).
Another iTunes ranking placed Rich Men North of Richmond second, behind Gunna's Fukumean. On Spotify, meanwhile, his song was in ninth place, and climbing, while on YouTube it was played more than 8.6 million times in five days.
The country hit has been labeled a "blue-collar political anthem." Rolling Stone has described it as a "passionate screed against the state of the country." The song criticizes the elites with lyrics like "these rich men north of Richmond (...) just wanna have total control." It also takes a jab at taxes, "Cause your dollar ain't sh** and it's taxed to no end," and low-paying, long-hour jobs with verses like "I've been sellin' my soul, workin' all day / Overtime hours for bullshit pay."
It also has constant religious references with lyrics like "Lord, we got folks in the street, ain't got nothin' to eat," and a possible reference to Epstein's 'pedophile island':
I wish politicians would look out for miners
And not just minors on an island somewhere.