Country singer Oliver Anthony scoffed at Fox News on Friday for playing his hit song, “Rich Men North Of Richmond” at the Republican primary debate Wednesday night.
Anthony’s viral song soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, topping pop star Taylor Swift and famous country music stars Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs. Anthony said in a 10-minute YouTube video Friday that he is “bothered” by politics becoming a part of the song’s message.
“The one thing that has bothered me is seeing people wrap politics up into this,” Anthony said roughly two minutes into the clip. “I’m disappointed to see, like, it’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me like I’m one of them. It’s aggravating seeing certain musicians and politicians acting like we’re buddies and act like we’re fighting the same struggle here, like we’re trying to present the same message.”
Fox News began the debate Wednesday night with Anthony’s music video of the hit song and asked the candidates to reply to its message. Eight candidates, including Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, participated in the first primary debate without former President Donald Trump’s attendance.
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“It was funny seeing my song, it was funny seeing it in the presidential debate. ‘Cuz it’s like, I wrote that song about those people, you know. For them to have to sit there and listen to that, that cracks me up,” Anthony said. “But it was funny kind of seeing the response to it, like that song has nothing to do with Joe Biden. It’s a lot bigger than Joe Biden. That song is written about the people on that stage, and a lot more, too, than just them. But definitely them.”
“I do hate to see that song being weaponized. Like I see the right trying to characterize me as one of their own, and I see the left trying to discredit me, I guess in retaliation. That shit’s got to stop,” he added. (RELATED: The True Life Story Behind Mega Viral Country Hit ‘Rich Men North Of Richmond’ Sent Chill Up My Spine)
“Rich Men North of Richmond” describes the struggles of working-class people and the people in the federal government making the lower and working class “needy and dependent.”
“Welfare only makes up a small portion of budget,” Anthony continued. “You know, if we can fuel a proxy war in a foreign land but we can’t take care of our own. That’s all the song’s trying to say. It’s just saying that the government takes people who are needy dependent and makes them needy and dependent.”
The lyrics to the song’s chorus read, “Livin’ in the new world / With an old soul / These rich men north of Richmond / Lord knows they all just wanna have total control / Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do / And they don’t think you know, but I know that you do / ‘Cause your dollar ain’t shit and it’s taxed to no end / ‘Cause of rich men north of Richmond.”
Anthony vowed to produce “authentic music” that represents the American people and not politics. He also criticized the political left for accusing his song of attacking the poor.
“If you listen to my other songs, it’s obvious that all of my songs that reference class defend the poor,” he said.
Anthony visibly teared up as he reflected on the conditions of the U.S. and the deaths of young people as the public grows increasingly divided.
“I don’t know what this country is gonna look like in 10 or 20 years if things don’t change. I don’t know what this world’s gonna look like, and something has to be done about it, you know? There’s been too many people die, there’s been too many people sacrifice everything they’ve had — people died before they’re even turn 18, you know? Just over us all to sit here and just do the stupid shit it is that we do everyday that keeps us all beat down and divided, like, that’s what I want to see stop. And I’m gonna do everything I can to influence that at all costs.”