I might’ve been living under a rock, but today was the first I heard about this song.
It went viral instantly and currently has 37 million views in a week and a half. Just a guy and his guitar in the woods. According to one report from streaming etc, he’s making $40,000/day from it. But he’s said he doesn’t want a record deal, doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, still just plays at the local farmer’s market.
And the media’s in a frenzy calling it a right-wing anthem and being divisive about it and so on.
So I followed along a little. This is his reaction:
And this is the first reaction video I watched:
And the second, which adds some good commentary (forgive the clickbait thumbnail):
I particularly liked one of the comments on that last one about the media making a circus of it all. In what sounds like real southern talk, regarding the media response, “Throw a rock at a pack of dogs the one who yelps is the one who got hit.”
I find it really interesting how it’s stirring things up so much so quick, and how different the ‘official’ or ‘professional’ response to it is vs. how actual people are responding.
Or how that seems to be anyway. I also wonder how much of it is manufactured.
It seems to be both divisive and unifying, at the same time. Like there’s some sort of culture war going on and this song is ground zero. But some people are trying to draw the split horizontally while others are trying to draw the split vertically.
It’s astroturfing. I made it about 30 seconds into that song and shut it off. It’s typical right wing “government is the problem…lazy people on welfare are the problem” bullshit. He’s pointing out real problems but then blaming the wrong people. And the whole “north of Richmond” line is blatantly referencing Civil War era North/South division and is arguably a dog whistle to white supremacists.
I think it’s helpful if you do at least hint in some way that there might be a means of redemption. One thing I love about Bruce Springsteen is his characters are never left completely bereft of hope. Woody Guthrie wrote, “I hate a song that makes you think you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. I’m out to fight those songs to my very last breath.” That was something I learned from working on [Guthrie’s] Mermaid Avenue archives. Woody never wrote a cynical song in his life. I feel I’m part of that tradition. You’re not going to solve anything with a song. Music can’t change the world—we all know that. But you can at least make a suggestion of where the problem lies from your perspective and how you might solve it. I’m trying to suggest that it doesn’t matter what color you are, the problem is that the system is rigged against you by rich people. Oliver Anthony would say, “That’s what my song was about.” And I would say, why don’t you write about that without punching down? Why don’t you let those people eat their Fudge Rounds? There’s also a kind of Reaganite anti-taxation thing in there, to say nothing of the Jeffrey Epstein swipe. I didn’t want him in my fucking song.
There is no confirmation of that offer from any reliable news source. In fact, only sketchy right wing websites are reporting that. Right now, the only source for his turning down all these offers is him. There was a rumor the other day that came from a different source that said he turned down an offer to do the Superbowl halftime show, but that source was a satirical website and a lot of people didn’t realize that. As we used to say in Texas, that guy is all hat and no cattle.