There’s a reason that a man named Oliver Anthony has taken over the Internet by storm.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that move your heart. A coal mining father coming to a basketball game covered in coal to be with his son. Music can do that too. Bluegrass is that type of music. It’s angst and struggle, love and love lost. Hard times and hard living and maybe some fishing with a kid. It’s as American as apple pie and baseball. Country music is that way, too.
I’m a fan of Zac Brown Band because he and his band tell stories. Songs like “Chicken Fried” and “My Old Man” are about America – middle America, truck drivers, and beer drinkers. People who built America, who went to war for America, and who now feel like they are outside looking in.
A few weeks ago a burly red-bearded man named Oliver Anthony recorded one song with “professional” equipment. Up to that point, all his songs were recorded on his phone. Nothing was happening to move his life forward.
Like most of us, Anthony has had some personal struggles. He told Jason Howerton that about a month ago he was still struggling with booze and depression. Tears welled up in his eyes and he dropped to his knees to pray. Anthony wasn’t particularly religious but he promised God that he would get past the booze if God would help him follow his dream. About 30 days passed and sober Oliver was offered a chance to record “Rich Men North of Richmond for his YouTube channel.
Not many people had heard his music before that session. It only took a few days before Oliver Anthony went from relative obscurity to instant fame. His song became a viral sensation.
What made his song famous? It speaks to America. It’s about America. Men and women are sick of the Rich Men North of Richmond (Washington D.C.) treating them with disdain and dismissal. He sings about high prices and a shrinking dollar. About young men killing themselves. He sings of “people in the street” and obese people milking welfare.
Fox News reported:
“Things were obviously not good for a lot of people, and in some respects, I was one of those people,” Anthony said. “And I had wasted a lot of nights getting high and getting drunk, and I had sort of gotten to a point in my life where even things I did care about didn’t mean anything to me anymore.”
“I mean, this is certainly no Dr. Phil episode,” he joked. “But I’ve found an outlet in this music.”
Other lyrics include:
“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.”
His song had 1.2 Million Youtube views by Friday morning. By the evening, it was over 5 Million. Why? Because it speaks to middle Americans.
Many people have thanked Anthony for his song. It touched their hearts. It spoke to them. One vet said:
I’m a 39-year-old Iraq vet and Construction worker, struggling like a dog to take care of two kids and keep a farm going when I’m not working 11-hour days,” one user wrote. “This hit so hard today I had to stop my old Peterbilt and tear up. Preach brother,”
“[Thank you] for writing this song. So many of us feel the exact same,” another user wrote. “God bless you.”
Indeed. God Bless.