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Country singer says Oliver Anthony’s hit song goes back to ‘roots’ of the genre: ‘Just speaks a lot of truth’

Oliver Anthony, the red-bearded Virginia farmer with a resonator guitar and a distinct twang, has become a virtual overnight sensation with his song “Rich Men North of Richmond,” and a fellow singer says he’s connected because he’s returned to the “roots” of country music, not because he’s making a political statement.

“You hear Oliver Anthony come out, sing this song, and it’s just with emotion and feeling and not a lot of instrumentation. It kind of goes back to the roots of the music,” singer Dewey Via told Fox News Digital.

A YouTube video of Anthony performing an acoustic version of his hit song has amassed more than 17 million views and counting. In his screed against greedy Washington politicians and a lament for the forgotten working class, Anthony frets working “overtime hours for bulls–t pay,” high taxation, money being worthless, the young male suicide epidemic and other societal ills.

“Protest songs are nothing new,” Via said, but this one is clicking with him and others in a way that’s hard to explain, at a time when some critics say mainstream country music has become too pop-oriented.”It resonated with me also,” said Via, who hails from near the Richmond, Va., area but now lives and performs in St. Augustine, Fla. “And when I talk with people, most people just seem to think that he’s saying what we’re feeling, and he put it into words… A lot of people are feeling the same way right now. In Washington, D.C., everything is run by wealthy people, and a lot of people who live rural or don’t live that way don’t understand why we’re struggling like we are.”

A Farmville, Va., native, Anthony’s everyman appearance and passionate delivery of the lyrics in a rural setting has been key to its appeal.

“It’s a damn shame what the world’s gotten to / For people like me and people like you / Wish I could just wake up and it not be true, But it is, oh, it is …These rich men north of Richmond / Lord knows they all just wanna have total control,” he sings. In another line that’s drawn attention as a seeming reference to Jeffrey Epstein, he intones, “I wish politicians would look out for miners / And not just minors on an island somewhere.”

In a matter of days, he gained hundreds of thousands of followers on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and his other songs are getting millions of views on YouTube as well. In video posts he’s done since he’s become a big name and performed in front of a large audience in North Carolina, he’s expressed humility and gratitude for his newfound attention. The song has also supplanted Jason Aldean’s “Try That In A Small Town” atop country music charts.

But the artist and his song’s astonishing rise has engineered blowback in mainstream and progressive media as well, with some outlets dissecting the lyrics as playing into conservative conspiracy theories.

A writer for the left-wing Guardian was annoyed it had won fans like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Arizona Republican Kari Lake, adding his line about “welfare abuse” was a “rightwing talking point.”

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