Why “Rich Men North of Richmond” Resonates

A week ago, no one had heard of Oliver Anthony or his song, “Rich Men North of Richmond.” Now he’s a celebrity and “Rich Men” is the #1 song in the country, with the music video having already reached 17 million views on YouTube. Why has this song gone so viral? Why is it resonating with so many people? Because it taps into the deep discontent so many Americans feel today about the direction of our country; it expresses what many believe but don’t know how—or are afraid—to say.

If you haven’t listened to the song, do so now (parental note: it does contain a few curse words). It’s a powerful piece musically and Anthony sings with clear passion, but it’s the lyrics that make the song the sensation it is.

Anthony begins,

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily

Email subscribe inline (#4)

I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day / Overtime hours for bullsh*t pay / So I can sit out here and waste my life away / Drag back home and drown my troubles away.

Simply put, the American Dream for so many people has become the American Nightmare. For generations there has been an unwritten understanding if one works hard and is responsible, he’ll live a decent life and, more importantly, he’ll leave his kids in better shape.

That’s no longer true. With an economy tottering on collapse and rampant inflation (which Anthony will get to a little later), Americans often live to work rather than work to live. We feel as if we are cogs in a machine we don’t control but can’t escape. Our hard work enriches the elite class, but does little to advance our own state in life.

Livin’ in the new world / With an old soul /

This is perhaps the most poignant line in a song full of them. We all understand that we now live in a “new world.” Those of us old enough to have lived in the 20th century know, to the core of our being, that things are different now. If you have an “old soul,” one that longs for the true, the beautiful, and the good, you feel as a fish out of water, a man without a country.

Of course, the elites will take this legitimate longing for “the good ol’ days” and weaponize it against the common man, accusing him of racism. “This is just a dog whistle that you want to go back to a racist past where the white man reigned supreme.” It’s nothing of the sort, of course. It’s a desire to return to the Real, when reality wasn’t an enemy to be defeated or conformed to our most base desires.

And the accusations of racism only further the frustration felt by the “old souls.” When someone dares express that perhaps things today are “off,” he’s immediately silenced by being branded a bigot or mysoginist or other hate term.

These rich men north of Richmond

For those who aren’t clear already, the “rich men north of Richmond” are the elite class, primarily politicians, residing in Washington, DC (which is just north of Richmond, VA). And note that Anthony isn’t singling out one political party or the other: it’s all the politicians who are the problem. They are all hypocrites and corrupt and don’t care about us. They send billions of our dollars to far-away conflicts while doing little to help those in need here in America. In fact, they are happy to send the lower class’s sons and daughters to die in those conflicts if it means they enrich themselves and their buddies in DC. Anthony isn’t singling out one political party or the other: it’s all the politicians who are the problem. They are all hypocrites and corrupt and don’t care about us.Tweet This

Lord knows they all just wanna have total control / Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do

What do the “rich men of Richmond” want more than anything? To control you. We saw that during the Covid lockdowns, when mom & pop shops and churches were forced to close, but big box stores, who have lobbyists in DC and state capitals, were deemed “essential services.” As always, the rich get richer.

But even beyond the lockdowns, the Woke Regime is the elite’s attempt for total control. Did you once express an unacceptable thought? You will be punished. Are you part of a demographic deemed “privileged?” You will be silenced. Again, total control.

‘Cause your dollar ain’t sh*t and it’s taxed to no end / ‘Cause of rich men north of Richmond.

Anthony might not know anything about the Federal Reserve and how our money is manipulated, but he understands its impact: “the dollar ain’t sh*t.” U.S. monetary policy for the past century has punished savers and rewarded spenders. If you live a meaningless existence of consumption, you are the star student of our economic masters. But if you want to save for your future and your children’s future, you are declared an enemy of the people.

Politicians on both the left and the right love to tout the health of the economy when the stock market rises. But it’s a shell game. They inject more and more money into the system, which inflates all prices, including the prices of stocks. But you know what doesn’t rise anywhere near as fast? Your wages. Combine that with onerous taxes, and even the most hard-working man can’t get ahead in this system.

I wish politicians would look out for miners / And not just minors on an island somewhere

To add insult to injury, while the rich men north of Richmond make our lives harder and harder, they live corrupt lives that would make the Borgia blush. Anthony alludes to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, in which many of the world’s elites would allegedly gather on his island for hedonistic practices, including the sexual abuse of minors. There used to be at least the illusion that our politicians were there to serve our country, but now they don’t even bother with the illusion: they are there to serve themselves, on our backs.

Some have criticized this song for being hopeless—a depressing song that only laments our problems. But that’s the point: people are feeling hopeless, and the way we are supposed to change things—our democratic political system—is clearly so corrupt that there seems to be no way to fix things. All we can do is sing dirges for our fallen nation.

The popularity of this song should be taken seriously. Why? Because, frankly, it sounds like a prelude to a revolution. History has shown that when a people are continually pushed down while their elites live lives of corrupt hedonism, pressure builds to dangerous levels. Sadly, the answer of many elites to the people’s discontent is to just push down more. Eventually, however, the pressure becomes so great that an explosion happens.

When that occurs, the rich men north of Richmond better watch out.


  • Eric Sammons

    Eric Sammons is the editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine.


Editor's picks

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Signup to receive new Crisis articles daily

Email subscribe stack
Share to...