Give me life, give me pain, give me myself again
–Tori Amos, “Little Earthquakes”
So, the story of Oliver Anthony and his song, “Rich Men North of Richmond” just keeps getting better and better. Oliver’s folk anthem for what Gary North used to call “The Remnant” and what Ron Paul deemed “The Silent Majority” has not just jumped containment it’s become a living, breathing thing.
And I can’t overstate how important this moment is. It’s such a simple thing, his song. And yet, simple truths speak volumes.
After making it to the top of the streaming charts at both Spotify and Apple Music, Oliver becomes a bona fide folk hero by turning down the music industry’s fundamentally dirty money. $8 million of it.
He knows that money comes with an awful lot of strings; strings that would be the kind of temptations that led him to write the music he did in the first place.
Not only does he turn them down, he all but spits on their offer. Because their offer was, in his words, “Bullshit Pay.” Even if he doesn’t care about the money, he’s worth 10 times that now thanks to spitting in their face.
It’s a moment where someone finally says, “It ain’t about the money.”
It’s about “people like me and people like you.”
Ironically, when you turn down the big money, when you don’t sell out, that’s when the real money gets made, especially in this age of crowdfunding and the ability of content creators to bypass the corporate gatekeepers.
If you have any doubts about this, if your emotional armor goes up and you immediately start looking for the man behind the curtain laying AstroTurf, I’m going to do something I never do… I’m linking to *shudder* a Facebook page, so you can read this man’s story yourself.
Here’s the link. Stop reading my pablum and read his tale, because it’s the kind of thing that speaks directly to why he turned the money down.
The pay comes from hearing the stories, feeling the pain and anguish of people moved by his music.
That’s real capital. People are happy to spend money on real things that give them value. They feel honored to support someone who speaks for them. And with that comes the responsibility to keep it as real as possible, because tomorrow is another struggle.
Ask me how I know this…
Authenticity Is the Real Coin of the Realm
One of the very first blog posts I published on Gold Goats ‘n Guns back in 2016 was called “The Authenticity Gap.” There I identified why the Millennials would be the generation that would betray the establishment and hand Trump the Presidency over Hillary Clinton.
This is a generation more aware of how screwed they are than mine was. And while their political identity is in flux– reared on diet of Comedy Central snark as a coping mechanism for the lying — they have a near obsession with natural things – real fiber clothing, lumberjack fashion, farm-to-table food choices, etc.
They’ve turned their Masters of Social Justice into Ph.D’s in Cocktails, Cappuccinos and Craft Beers… and bless their hearts. I can finally get a good whiskey sour when I visit my friends in South Florida.
At least now some of them are entrepreneurs.
Their cultural identity is one big cry for authenticity in a sea of smarm. Hillary’s authenticity gap is simply too big for many millennials to square with that value system.
And that’s exactly what happened. Many of them stayed home and some, guys like Oliver Anthony, voted for Trump. No political analyst had guys like him modeled in 2016.
He was 23 working double-shifts in a paper mill.
Now let’s come back to the present. Read that article again, sub out “Hillary” for the entire “Davos establishment post-COVID.” And tell me the same issues are not about to play themselves out again.
The DNC is currently at war with itself over who should be their standard bearer. There are at least three factions I can identify by inference vying for control. Hillary is back trying to deal herself back into the club by crowing over Trump’s indictments while speaking for the Neocons desperate to keep the war in Ukraine going.
Obama is trying to hold onto his fourth term while simultaneously trying to figure out how to replace Biden and Harris before the primary season.
Someone else (Wall St.??) is taking aim at Obama now.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. playing the Bernie Sanders role but as a realist rather than a fake populist while Trump keeps doing his thing.
For the record, where your Spidey sense should be tingling is over Vivek Ramaswamy, who looks for all the world like a stalking horse for Davos to take up the populist reins once he tests well enough to replace Trump when they put Trump in jail next year.
Fight me, bro! But that’s what AstroTurf really looks like!
Today, the Millennials are even more shell-shocked than they were in 2016. They now have three instances of their Boomer grandparents stealing what little is left of their future in their PTSD files.
They can see these things for what they are.
Even their music has been inauthentic and they know it. My daughter, a first-year ‘Zoomer’ by the Fourth Turning model, tells me all the time, “Dad, our music sucks.”
My reply is always pretty much, “Yup.”
Their music was purposefully vandalized just like everything else these ghoulish Davos pricks touch. Promoting ugliness and garishness is their MO, folks. Normalizing the absurd and the deviant is their obsession.
They lie all the time so they can blame it on the excesses of ‘capitalism’ or ‘greed.’ Then they scold us like children for our simply breathing in oxygen and out carbon dioxide while turning our children against us and into literal zombies.
Their sickness is so staggeringly vast that they have weaponized our very existence against us, taking Catholic Original Sin doctrine and turning it into yet another form of psychological torture over plant food.
There can be nothing beautiful in the world again until we submit to their truly inhuman schemes.
They’ve stepped up their assault on us this summer; setting wild fires, terrorizing farmers, blowing up grain silos, killing dissidents and blaming all of it on Climate Change.
And now rumblings of another new deadly Canadian COVID variant is out there.
Until we submit to them, they will parade an endless series of Skinner Box buttons to take our fear and anxiety out on each other in acts of impotent rage rather than turn our eyes North of Richmond and East of Calais.
So, yeah, if I’m Oliver Anthony and I’m genuinely pissed off at this world, I look at that $8 million and piss on it too. Their dollars’ ain’t shit. But ours can change everything, one or two at a time.
And that’s the thing that scares them more than anything else. All of us looking at each other as victims of their abuse rather than rivals for a shrinking pile of cold comfort foods is the beginning of real empathy, of societal healing.
There is something so primal about music that cannot be quantified. It’s effect on us can’t really be studied. Properly executed the right song is a whole body experience. It takes us out of our heads and puts us right with ourselves.
Whenever I feel the most detached from the world it is when I realize I’m not listening to or making enough music.
The music industry is an even bigger garden of ashes than the movie or social media industries with production that is flat and bombastic. It screams insecurity and oppression. They know that you know that it sucks just like a movie that gives you endless action to obscure the fact that there is no story.
It’s audio porn. And it’s as fake as the AI-generated thots on Instagram and the boobs on the chicks at Pornhub.
Norman Spinrad warned us about this in his insanely cool book Little Heroes back in 1987, envisioning a music industry with fake performers, glitz, sex, all the soul of a corporate boardroom having tofurky and sprouts catered in for lunch.
Recently I watched the sheer joy of a music producer like Rick Beato talking on YouTube about, the vast dynamic range of Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes. He was nearly in tears at the mastery of the production, no less the songwriting. It’s that ache for the authentic, the real, the connection that is now not only lacking in modern music production but purposefully kept from us.
That video alone tells you just how far the industry has fallen.
You don’t have to like Tori Amos to appreciate how a man like Rick can be so moved by that album.
Everything is mid-heavy and in your face, compressed to hell with no soundscape. There’s no depth like in Dark Side of the Moon. There is zero chance to let the music breathe, worm its way in and bring you joy.
Music production today is crap, cynically designed to trigger your brain into paying attention rather than stirring your soul.
And this is why Oliver Anthony cut through the noise so easily.
Just a guy with a great voice, a couple of Go-Pros, a rented $2000 microphone, a $700 resonator and, most importantly, something to fucking say.
Gorgeous in its simplicity. Powerful in its honesty. This is how you wake up the world. Not by blaring an emergency siren at them all day, but by speaking the truth in their ear quietly.
The media wing of the oligarchy were presented a valuable lesson last week. And they probably didn’t hear a word of it.
Lies are expensive. The Truth sells itself.
Your days are numbered. The cycle has turned. We don’t want your money. We want our lives back that you stole from us one small toll at a time.
Reprinted with permission from Gold Goats ‘n Guns.