Oliver Anthony Music's 'Rich Men North of Richmond'

by

Riley Johnson

Updated

April 11, 2024

Updated

April 11, 2024

Updated

April 11, 2024

The “Rich Men of Richmond” credited under Oliver Anthony Music took the genre by storm for two reasons: First, it shot straight to number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 out of nowhere – causing people to suspect that Anthony was an “industry plant.” Second, it was a highly controversial song entangled in the world of politics. As Rania Aniftos of Billboard described the song, it takes on “high taxes, abuse of welfare and selfish politicians.”

Who wrote “Rich Men North of Richmond”? 

His name is Oliver Anthony. No one had heard of him until his song took over the charts. So, naturally, people have grown curious about him. 

Describing himself as “just some idiot and his guitar,” Oliver Anthony didn’t plan on becoming a full-time musician (though he did enjoy it and notes Hank Williams Jr. as his biggest influence), much less a famous one. 

Anthony dropped out of school at 17, worked multiple jobs (and even had an injury in one that forced him to rest for six months), and got to know tens of thousands of people who worked blue-collar jobs. In those years, he heard the same old story of tired workers who felt “neglected, divided, and manipulated” – just like him. He wanted to connect with these people on a deep level (because he was one of them) and give hope to those who had lost them in the grind of trying to get by.

So he wrote and sang the song and then uploaded it. No editing, no bullsh*t. What he didn’t expect was that it would attract a lot of attention – and most of it he didn’t want.  

“Rich Men North of Richmond” started with a bang, racking numbers way too fast for an independent artist with supposedly no industry backing. The video (posted on the channel @radiowv on August 9, 2023) earned over 12 million views in just six days. As of writing, it has 130 million views and 2.4 million likes. He also nabbed the top three spots on the iTunes download chart and five of the top and cracked into the top 10 of Spotify’s daily USA Top 50 within days of its release. 

But its biggest success was making an unprecedented leap to number on the Billboard singles chart, dominating pop superstars Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo as well as country artists Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs

What is north of Richmond, Virginia? Meaning of the Song

North of Richmond, Virginia, sits the capital of the US: Washington, D.C., the seat of the US federal government and several international organizations. Thus, it is designated as an important world capital. And the meaning behind the song named after it is simple: It blames the politicians, presumably in D.C., who sit there only getting richer while people like him work themselves to the bone for bullsh*t pay. 

As the song progressed, Anthony cut deeper with specific controversies that surrounded the people of Washington – like the line where he sings, “I wish politicians would look out for miners / And not just minors on an island somewhere.”

However, it did end up getting flak, mainly with the expressed political views (though Anthony claims he is politically “pretty dead center”) and the offensive comments he made.  

How do you play “Rich Men North of Richmond”? 

Here are the basics: First, place your capo on the third fret. Then, practice the four basic chords that you need to play the song, Em/C/G/D.

For the first verse, you’re going to do a simple down-strum pattern for each chord. In the next verse, you do the same set of chords but make a Down-Down-Down-Up-Down-Up (DDDUDU) pattern instead. In the chorus, you start off with Em, then add your fourth finger on the 3rd fret, first string, and then pluck 1-2-3-1-2. And then repeat it again with the next chord. 

If you want to learn how to play the whole song with the details thoroughly explained, then check out this video

Once you’re done, you can finally jam to Oliver Anthony Music’s “Rich Men of Richmond” in the video below.


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