Oliver Anthony, whose blue-collar country ballad “Rich Men North of Richmond” skyrocketed to the top of the country music charts, formally introduced himself to listeners on Facebook on Aug. 17 [Editor’s note: This post and the following link contain language some may find offensive.]. In a lengthy post, the red-bearded singer-songwriter from Virginia admitted he’s in “a weird place” right now, dealing with the overnight success.
“People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers,” wrote Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. His stage name honors his grandfather, who was born during the Great Depression in Appalachia.
Anthony insisted he doesn’t want to be “in the spotlight,” writing, “There’s nothing special about me. I’m not a good musician. I’m not a very good person.” Yet he reportedly received more than 50,000 messages in one week, and “Rich Men North of Richmond” already has more than 20 million views on YouTube.
Who Is Country Musician Oliver Anthony?
In his post, Oliver Anthony described himself as “just some idiot and his guitar.” He earned a GED after dropping out of high school and then worked in manufacturing plants, calling it “a living hell.” He suffered a serious work injury, now lives in a camper, and has spent the past five years “struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it.”
Anthony said he started writing songs in 2021 and “found an outlet in this music.” His lyrics frequently contain foul language and refer to smoking marijuana.
The singer, who opened a recent performance by reading from Psalm 37, wrote, “Just like those once wandering in the desert, we have lost our way from God and have let false idols distract us and divide us.” He expressed sadness and hopelessness at the current state of the world, with “everyone fighting with each other” and with the internet acting as a divisive “parasite.”
Anthony continued, “When are we going to fight for what is right again? MILLIONS have died protecting the liberties we have. Freedom of speech is such a precious gift. Never in world history has the world had the freedom it currently does. Don’t let them take it away from you.”
In his working-class anthem, Anthony rails against obese welfare recipients and makes an apparent reference to alleged human trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. “These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung,” said Anthony.
The Message of Oliver Anthony’s Music
About his political leanings, Anthony said he sits “pretty dead center down the aisle.” Both the left and right “serve the same master,” he added, “and that master is not someone of any good to the people of this country.”
Many conservatives have praised “Rich Men North of Richmond” for highlighting the struggle of hardworking Americans while wealthy politicians fight for power in D.C. Far-right leaders such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert have endorsed Anthony’s message, with Greene saying the song “represents my district and the people of America I know and love.”
Others are skeptical about Anthony’s swift rise, even wondering if the upstart is an “industry plant.” Variety reporter Chris Willman wrote, “It almost seems as if, if Oliver Anthony hadn’t come along, someone would have had to invent him.”