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‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ songwriter says he ‘hates’ seeing his song being ‘weaponized’

Aug 26, 2023, 2:29 PM | Updated: 6:09 pm

(CNN) — Oliver Anthony is continuing to make his voice heard after becoming an overnight sensation thanks to his viral working-class anthem, “Rich Men North of Richmond.”

In a YouTube video shared on Friday, the singer addressed his song having been played at this week’s 2024 Republican presidential primary debate, saying that he found it “funny” because the song “is written about the people on that stage.”

“The one thing that has bothered me is seeing people wrap politics up into this,” Anthony said. “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 act like we’re buddies and act like we’re fighting the same struggle here, like that we’re trying to present the same message.”

The song, in which Anthony sings about working hard and paying taxes just to “waste (his) life away,” has been embraced by conservatives.

Anthony, though, was critical in the video toward both sides of the political spectrum and said his ballad “has nothing to do” with Democratic President Joe Biden.

“It’s hard to get a message out about your political ideology or your belief about the world in three minutes and some change,” he said,”but I do hate to see that song being weaponized.”

“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 sh*t’s gotta stop,” he continued.

Fox News anchor Bret Baier, who served as one of the debate moderators, told Politico in an interview published Friday that the network had approval to air the song during its debate.

“Rich Men North of Richmond” has racked up millions of views on social media in less than a week and debuted No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Of his sudden success and dealing with the “music industry,” Anthony noted in Friday’s video “how dirty everything is. It’s worse than you think.”

He also observed that according to the YouTube reaction videos to “Rich Men North of Richmond,” it’s not just conservative people who have been moved by the song, saying it’s a much more diverse group of people.

The track has received praise from country stars like Travis Tritt and John Rich of Big & Rich – though it has also courted controversy for its lyrics referring to politicians who “look out” for “minors on an island” and “obese” welfare recipients “milking” the system.

As for his personal politics, Anthony previously said in a separate video that he sits “pretty dead center down the aisle” and finds fault with leaders on both the left and the right.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ songwriter says he ‘hates’ seeing his song being ‘weaponized’