“I got a nice slow trickle of fame.” Joe Rogan juxtaposed his experience with Oliver Anthony’s meteoric rise from unsigned, unnoticed backyard singer one week to #1 star the next. Politicians have used the story of Oliver Anthony and his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” to elevate themselves. What about the man himself? He sounds like a libertarian whose devout faith in Christ guides him.
Oliver Anthony is really Christopher Anthony Lunsford. He named his YouTube channel Oliver Anthony Music, after his grandfather, and will now seemingly use the moniker going forward as a stage name. All of that is new for the artist, who was unknown except to his family and friends a month ago. The video of Anthony performing “Rich Men North of Richmond” was first posted on August 8, 2023, and promptly went viral, debuting at No. 1. Billboard said, “Among other chart achievements for the singer-songwriter, he’s the first artist ever to launch atop the list with no prior chart history in any form.”
The Real Politics of Oliver Anthony
The song remains number one and was played by Fox News moderators at the start of the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee. Then, the establishment media, including The New York Times, reported that Anthony was talking about those politicians when he wrote his #1 hit. Is it a Republican anthem or a missive on all those in power? What about the man himself? The singer joined Joe Rogan on his podcast, telling the story of his life and rise to fame, and there was plenty to extrapolate about politics, policy, and faith. Oliver Anthony said:
“[T]he federal government was never intended to be the size that it is today. Like it’s just – we’re very top heavy in the way we’re structured, you know, our federal government is enormous and out of control and almost impossible to manage. But then, like, on our community level, and in our state government, things are, especially local government, things are just very neglected and weak and disconnected. And so like that’s why you see a lot of the problems – like we shouldn’t have to rely on the federal government to fix things out in the street in small town America – like the communities and the local government should be the ones fixing that …”
One part of his song that received the most criticism was a line criticizing a fictional obese welfare recipient milking the system, “Well, God, if you’re five foot three and you’re 300 pounds, taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds.” Rainn Wilson, who recently made headlines over his ennui at only making $100,000 per episode of a sitcom, said he would have criticized billionaires instead of welfare recipients. Rogan demonstrated how effective a proper mocking can be, noting that nothing is quite so hilariously out of touch as a millionaire criticizing a billionaire.
A Journey of Faith
Until very recently, Mr. Anthony’s life has been filled with depression and anxiety. He credited his faith in God for overcoming those challenges. He recommended reading Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, as well as the book of Mark, to Rogan’s audience. Anthony has only performed a few concerts and has been reported to start shows with a reading from the Bible. He had no paid performances before his newfound fame and had never traveled west of Tennessee before visiting Rogan in Austin, Texas.
He brought a Bible on the podcast and gave testimony as to how his faith delivered him from the grip of depression:
“I’m nobody special and I’m not here to preach anybody but I’m telling you… giving things to God for me alleviated 99% of what like ….
“I had a like I don’t know how to describe it but when you when you experience … when I kind of had this breakdown moment and decided that I was going to let whatever ego I had go and just at this point is like I know I didn’t have much left in for me anyway and I wanted I wanted to serve whatever purpose it was that I was here to serve.
“It’s like you get this just overwhelming feeling and yeah I was just crying like a baby just this very like warm feeling throughout me and that that really hasn’t gone away since …”
Anthony credited his ability to perform before large crowds without issue due to his revelation. The podcast went on for about two-and-a-half hours and covered topics as broad as the construction of the pyramids to humans’ gut biome and how it influences health. He also spoke positively about guns, gun culture and hunting, and free speech, ending the notion forever that the progressive left could embrace him.
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