Discover more from Christopher Messina, Enlightentaining Host of Messy Times
Oliver Anthony's got the slickest pitch ever; is it remotely true?
Christopher to Christopher: Your Next Steps Matter
Suddenly his voice and video were everywhere. “Rich Men North of Richmond” became unavoidable in the space of a week if you had an internet connection. Not quite as infectious as “Gangnam Style” but a lot more soulful and American.
Great song. Poignant delivery. I was digging the whole “undiscovered Appalachian backwoods musician thing” until he claimed to have turned down an $8 million recording contract.
In his own words:
Having known and worked closely with many people who grew up poor, I know one thing for damned sure: when provided a golden ticket, they take it. Think 8 Mile with Marshall Mathers.
Even better, take the exchange in Good Will Hunting when Will and his best pal are on the job site, chucking cinder blocks off a building they are demolishing. Will is being offered all kinds of fancy think tank jobs because he’s another ‘noble savage’ boy genius from Southie and he’s thinking of renouncing it all to stay where he is, doing hard labor overtime jobs for bullshit pay. He offers up this whiny juvenile objection, “What? I gotta go do that because I owe it to myself?!” His buddy says to him in response, “No - fuck that. You don’t owe it to yourself. You owe it to me. Because one day I’m gonna wake up and be sixty and that’s all right. But you staying here is an insult. If I had what you had, I’d be out of here in a second.”
The idea that it would be “artistically pure” or “noble” to turn down $8 million when in your own soul-crying words you’ve been working overtime for bullshit pay is ludicrous. Only a rich college kid who has never tasted real poverty would say he’s not taking millions of dollars because he doesn’t need a jet and 15 tractor trailers and 6 tour buses. It’s right out of a bad freshman writing class.
Someone who grew up poor can think of hundreds of things to do with that money that doesn’t involve buying “tractor trailers.” I mean, what a bizarre idea - unless he’s intending to operate a long-haul logistics business, why in the holy hell would he think of buying tractor trailers with his recording contract? What about all his family and friends struggling with credit card debt or unable to scrape together cash for a downpayment on a home? His turning down that money is downright immoral - if he’d like, he could after taxes help out lots of people.
There are only four options when it comes to this story:
He’s already struck a deal for $20 million and this “I ain’t takin’ no money what’ll compromise my down-home artistic integrity” line is just part of the whole public relations spin they’re putting on him.
He is already making millions from individual song sales on iTunes so he doesn’t need to share the bounty with a record company that was not there for him when he needed it.
His entire story is a fabrication because a man from his stated background which includes a GED and a $14.50 per hour job that nearly killed him would never turn down that money.
It’s true, he’s insane and he needs an intervention. Chris, give me a call if you want some guidance on how to invest rationally that large sum of cash without distortions from people who will want something from you.
The other thing which has been Astroturfed and then picked up by well-meaning people on social media is this idea that The Man would never allow Oliver Anthony’s songs be played because of how “revolutionary” they are. Jesus, who believes that nonsense in a world awash in nasty, raunchy lyrics and Spotify channels full of people screaming “Let’s go, Brandon!!”? The last time anyone tried to censor 'rebellious’ music in this country involved Tipper Gore demanding Congressional hearings about 2 Live Crew in September 1985.
YouTube slaps more “warning labels” and stupid “context boxes” on Messy Times videos about climate change than any technology company does on song lyrics.
What a thrilling frisson of rebellion to think that Facebook and Google which have done nothing but kowtow to Democrat demands to censor everything from jokes about Wuhan masking inutility to the validity of Biden’s getting 81 million votes during a lockdown to vaccine doubts to the never ending lies about “climate change” would ban a country song about hard work, shitty government and rich people holding down the working man. That is all country music is about - that and cheap sluts stealing hound dog men from long-suffering women.
In that manufactured fantasy universe, he’d best not sign that $8 million recording contract, because The Man would only give him all that money to shut him up, instead of making him the next Woody Guthrie or Billy Bragg.
Great music tells truths about people. His songs certainly do that.
As for all the rest of the fast-fashion hagiography being spun up about the man?
We shall see.