TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — “Rich Men North of Richmond” singer Oliver Anthony said in a new YouTube video on Friday that his song being mentioned in the GOP debate was funny because he “wrote the song about those people,” and hates that politics has surrounded his song.
“It was funny seeing it at the presidential debate, cause it’s like, I wrote that song about those people, you know, so for them to have to sit there and listen to that, it cracks me up,” he said.
“That song has nothing to do with Joe Biden,” Anthony said. “It’s a lot bigger than Joe Biden. That song is written about the people on that stage, and a lot more too, not just them, but definitely them.”
Anthony said he hates that politics has been wrapped around his song.
“I do hate to see that song being weaponized,” he said. “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 s**t’s gotta stop.”
Anthony said that it’s aggravating seeing people on conservative media trying to identify with him.
“It’s aggravating seeing certain musicians and politicians act like we’re buddies and act like we’re fighting the same struggle here,” he said.
“If you watch the response videos on YouTube to the song, it’s not conservative people responding to the song,” he said. “It’s not even necessarily Americans responding to the song.”
Anthony said he’s never seen anything get a positive response from such a diverse group of people.
“I think that terrifies the people I sing about in that song,” Anthony said. “They’ve done everything they can the last two weeks to make me look like a fool, to spin my words, to try to stick me in a political bucket, and they can keep trying, but I’m just going to keep on writing.”
Anthony said he’s going to write songs that represent people and not politics.
Anthony also took issue with the left for sending a message that his song “is an attack against the poor.”
“If you listen to my other music, it’s obvious that all of my songs that reference class defend the poor,” Anthony said.
He said he understands why some people misunderstood the lyrics in “Rich Men North of Richmond.”
“I’ve got to be clear that my message, like with any of my songs, it references the inefficiencies of the government, because of the politicians within it that are involved in bribes and extortion,” Anthony said.
He said the line in the song that mentions people on welfare is a reference to a news article he read over the summer that kids in Richmond are missing meals during summer months because they’re not in school and their parents can’t afford to feed them.
“That’s not the fault of those people,” he said. “Welfare only makes up a small percentage of our budget. If we can fuel a proxy war in a foreign land but we can’t take care of our own, that’s all the song is trying to say. It’s just saying that the government takes people who are needy and dependent and makes them needy and dependent.”
He said he’ll explain all the lyrics of his songs if that’s what he needs to do.
“Thirty-some million people understood what I was saying, but it only takes a few to try and derail the train,” Anthony said.