I don’t give a shit about Oliver Anthony, and I don’t give a shit about his controversial song. I can’t. I don’t have the energy to get mad about it. Wow, really? A ginger beardo from a farm in the former Confederacy wrote lyrics that seem to be racially coded and loosely anti-government? Wait until you hear about how the sun is going to continue to rise in the east every 24 hours, because apparently you are easily astonished. If the very idea of such a song offends you, stop giving people like Oliver Anthony air.
That should be the end of it, because I do not want to give this person any more attention, let alone boost his numbers, which is also why I have never listened to Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town.” As an aside, I come from a small town, Jason Aldean, and I know what you’re really talking about, which is why I live in a big city, even though this particular big city feels like a small town 99% of the time.
Anyway, the most recent piece about Anthony’s song that I’ve perused (The Nation, Aug 18) is literally titled “The New Bard of the Right.” If that’s what Oliver Anthony is, then why would I give his music a spin? In the pictures I’ve seen of him, he’s holding a dobro, and I don’t typically listen to music made by people holding dobros. Moreover, I vote Democrat, even when it chagrins me, and, most importantly, I’m 45 years old and time is finite. There are millions of minutes of problematic music I’d rather hear by artists who don’t appeal to conservatives than this, and even if Anthony’s fans laud him for speaking to the plight of so-called forgotten people, I don’t care about that, either. You know who writes music that empowers forgotten people? Insane fucking Clown Posse. And I’d rather hear all 16 ICP studio albums and every EP in between — and there are 19 of those — back-to-goddamn-back than give 30 seconds to Oliver Anthony’s Spotify plays.
Man, I should be so lucky! Because now I’ve had to look up the lyrics to Anthony’s song, which is already more of my finite time loaned to this guy. If you’ve already read any think piece on “Rich Men North of Richmond,” then you probably know what I’m going to say, especially because we probably both exist in similar content ecosystems. Alas …
Right up front, there’s the title of the song itself, which will matter most to people who respond well to dog whistles. If you are politically progressive, you will find a Confederate sympathizer’s lament lodged within the title’s subtext (because Richmond was the capital of the loser Confederacy), but if the echoes in your mental chamber come from various right-wing apparati, the phrase “Rich Men North of Richmond” is a sick burn scorched on the backs of the liberals in Washington who want to run your lives. It’s a burn even sicker than “Let’s Go Brandon,” and if you thought “Let’s Go Brandon” was indeed a very sick burn, then Oliver Anthony will seem like a fucking laser cannon.
He’s not, not unless laser cannons are characterized by having half-formed ideas of how the world works. Consider “I wish politicians would look out for miners / And not just minors on an island somewhere / Lord, we got folks in the street ain’t got nothin’ to eat / And the obese milkin’ welfare.”
I mean, I guess these are wishes everyone should be able to get behind, but why is Anthony talking shit about the rich men north of Richmond when there are predatory politicians much closer to his home? Like what has Glen Youngkin done for the working man, Oliver Anthony? Do you even know who he is? Because when you talk about rich men north of Richmond, a really good example of one of those is the current governor of Virginia. I don’t have the space here to get into it, but since your music probably appeals to the “do your own research” crowd (what with that Q-baiting line about “minors on an island” and all), you ought to look up Glen Youngkin and the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm where he worked for 25 years. For 22 of them, he worked on the buyout teams, negotiating deals that put thousands of people out of work, and that’s just one tiny reason why Gov. Glen Youngkin is not a poor, working person’s friend.
As for the part about hungry people on the street and obese people Hoovering up welfare money, I don’t know what to tell you, Oliver Anthony. I couldn’t find a stat about the obese people in Virginia and what they do or do not milk. Do you have a solution? Because prior to hassling 5-foot-3 300-pound people on welfare about what they’re eating, you grouse about how “your dollar ain’t shit, and it’s taxed to no end.” How do you, Oliver Anthony, propose to feed these hungry street people? I know it’s not by giving them snacks, because later in your song, you say, “Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds.” So you’re saying tax money, a thing that the government collects and distributes to Americans for various reasons, should have parameters on what the recipients can use it for? OK, fine, but who decides what those parameters are? Is it you, Oliver Anthony? What if the person who writes the law designed to curtail an obese person’s abuse of welfare money — thereby ensuring that Oliver Anthony’s taxes don’t have to pay for anyone else’s empty calories — turns out to be a rich man north of Richmond?
I don’t fucking know, and Oliver Anthony doesn’t, either. Maybe he thinks Glen Youngkin is a destructive villain for the same reasons that I do. I doubt it, but unless Anthony puts out a doom metal song (or a reggae song or a song that sounds like Steely Dan) called “Glen Youngkin Is a Villain for Various Reasons,” I’m not going to listen to his music, because it doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t want to give Oliver Anthony any more of my time. Unless you are into his dumb brand, you shouldn’t either.