Thousands of people attended singer Oliver Anthony’s free concert in North Carolina on Saturday following the massive success of “Rich Men North of Richmond.” Speaking on-camera for the first time with Fox News, Anthony said he hopes the song, which has been touted as a blue-collar anthem, represents more than just the working class.
“People deal with depression and anxiety and misery and hopelessness no matter where they are at,” Anthony told Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins.
“They don’t have to be blue-collar Americans. I mean I’ve gotten messages from people in countries that I don’t know how to pronounce. This is something that has touched people globally and there’s a reason for that,” he said.Anthony added the anthem is not meant for just one identity or group. Instead, it is a song more broadly about humanity.
He revealed he didn’t even write the second half of his song until the day before he recorded the acoustic version of it on his Virginia farm.
“I really just wrote the song for me… We threw the second half together the day before filming, and I didn’t think anybody would even see it,” he told Jenkins.
The breakout small-town singer-songwriter performed for an estimated 4,000 people who arrived at the Eagle Creek Golf Club & Grill in Moyock, North Carolina, on August 19 for the free show.
That same day, “Rich Men North of Richmond” reached number 1 on iTunes and number 41 on Spotify.
The song gained internet fame this month after YouTube channel Radio WV shared Anthony’s passionate performance on their channel. The politically charged song, explaining the frustrations felt by blue-collar workers over corrupt politicians and addressing societal ills like substance abuse, suicide and the dollar’s declining value, has amassed 30 million views on YouTube as of Monday.
Anthony said the song is an “evolution” of a lot of his previous songs that deal with common struggles of ordinary people. As he’s become a household name, his other past music is also getting millions of listens.
“It resonates with the suffering in the world right now,” Anthony said. “Like even in our own country, we’ve had years of people feeling depressed and hopeless and every time you look at the TV or get online everything’s negative. And so I think people are just desperate for something positive again. There’s been a lot of people that have died for us to be able to stand on this dirt and do what it is we do every day, and we should be excited for it.””It really hits the heart. It’s perfect,” one woman at the concert told Fox News.
“Nobody wants to hear the truth and here we have somebody who’s going to speak it,” another attendee said.
The song, in part, criticizes high taxes and greedy politicians in Washington who “just wanna have total control.” One lyric compares starving “people in the street” to “obese” Americans abusing the welfare system. Another lyric laments the suicide epidemic of young men.
“Well God, if you’re 5 foot 3 and you’re 300 pounds, taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds,” Anthony sings. “Young men are putting themselves six feet in the ground, ’cause all this damn country does is keep on kicking them down.”One man who attended the Saturday concert revealed he had traveled six hours to see Anthony live.
Another concert attendee surmised that the song is about every man who wakes up and goes to work to provide for his family and friends.
“He truly cares about the people that he sings about,” another woman chimed in. “He’s one of us.”