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Overnight sensation known as Oliver Anthony says “I’m not a good musician, I’m not a very good person” as he turns down multi million dollar offer

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His real name is Christopher Lunsford.  Friends and family just call him Chris. But over the last week or so, millions of people around the world have been introduced to him as Oliver Anthony.  That’s because Chris records music under the name of his grandfather, Oliver Anthony, for a youtube channel called RadioWv (Radio West Virginia).  Back on August 8, Chris was creating music as a hobby he practiced after work and on days off.  But on August 9, a video he recorded for his original song “Rich Men North of Richmond” was loaded on the RadioWv channel.  Within hours, Lunsford’s life was turned upside-down.

Chris Lunsford and “Draven” from RadioWv were sure this was a special song and they were hoping maybe something this good could get a few hundred thousands views.  Well… 21 million views later, Lunsford has reportedly had to contend with about 50,000 online comments, and consider an 8 million dollar recording contract.  Something about this song has touched a nerve.

In case you haven’t heard it yet, here it is on the youtube channel RadioWv.  And this is the description put up by RadioWv.

“When I first came across Oliver Anthony and his music, I was blown away to say the least. He had a whole collection of songs that I could listen to for hours. Oliver resides in Farmville, VA with his 3 dogs and a plot of land he plans on turning into a small farm to raise livestock. We have a whole mess of songs set to release of Oliver for your viewing and listening pleasure, he is truly special and notes his biggest influence as Hank Williams Jr. Oliver wants to give hope to the working class and your average hard working young man who may have lost hope in the grind of trying to get by.” 

The song is written about the struggles of regular folk in Appalachia, but millions of Americans have adopted it as an anthem for their own lives.  The secret sauce behind the success of “Rich Men North of Richmond” certainly has to do with a brilliant title and the haunting melody.  But it’s the heartfelt lyrics that strongly challenge political and corporate power structures which seem to be taking the world by storm.  It’s kicking up a little storm of controversy too.  While many media outlets are calling the song a ‘conservative anthem’, the BBC goes as far as to say the song is the latest in a series of cultural flashpoints that reflect a deeply divided America.

As a songwriter, Lunsford has called on a bitter period in his life to come up with lines like these:

“Livin’ in the new world/ With an old soul/

These rich men north of Richmond/ Lord knows they all just wanna have total control/

Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do/ And they don’t think you know, but I know that you do/

‘Cause your dollar ain’t s**t and it’s taxed to no end/ ‘Cause of rich men north of Richmond.”

Like it or hate it, the song has rocketed to the top of Country Music charts.  For his part Christopher Lunsford has made two public statements which are no where near as political as his lyrics.  Lunsford recorded the first statement as an update to his sudden success.

Then with the pressure building to address his new audience again, Thursday, Chris Lunsford wrote this thoughtful update on his Oliver Anthony facebook page.

From the Facebook page of Oliver Anthony Music

It’s been difficult as I browse through the 50,000+ messages and emails I’ve received in the last week. The stories that have been shared paint a brutally honest picture. Suicide, addiction, unemployment, anxiety and depression, hopelessness and the list goes on.
I’m sitting in such a weird place in my life right now. I never wanted to be a full time musician, much less sit at the top of the iTunes charts. Draven from RadioWv and I filmed these tunes on my land with the hope that it may hit 300k views. I still don’t quite believe what has went on since we uploaded that. It’s just strange to me.
People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers. I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight. I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression. These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung. No editing, no agent, no bullshit. Just some idiot and his guitar. The style of music that we should have never gotten away from in the first place.
So that being said, I have never taken the time to tell you who I actually am. Here’s a formal introduction:
My legal name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. My grandfather was Oliver Anthony, and “Oliver Anthony Music” is a dedication not only to him, but 1930’s Appalachia where he was born and raised. Dirt floors, seven kids, hard times. At this point, I’ll gladly go by Oliver because everyone knows me as such. But my friends and family still call me Chris. You can decide for yourself, either is fine.
In 2010, I dropped out of high school at age 17. I have a GED from Spruce Pine, NC. I worked multiple plant jobs in Western NC, my last being at the paper mill in McDowell county. I worked 3rd shift, 6 days a week for $14.50 an hour in a living hell. In 2013, I had a bad fall at work and fractured my skull. It forced me to move back home to Virginia. Due to complications from the injury, it took me 6 months or so before I could work again.
From 2014 until just a few days ago, I’ve worked outside sales in the industrial manufacturing world. My job has taken me all over Virginia and into the Carolinas, getting to know tens of thousands of other blue collar workers on job sites and in factories. Ive spent all day, everyday, for the last 10 years hearing the same story. People are SO damn tired of being neglected, divided and manipulated.
In 2019, I paid $97,500 for the property and still owe about $60,000 on it. I am living in a 27′ camper with a tarp on the roof that I got off of craigslist for $750.
There’s nothing special about me. I’m not a good musician, I’m not a very good person. I’ve spent the last 5 years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it. I am sad to see the world in the state it’s in, with everyone fighting with each other. I have spent many nights feeling hopeless, that the greatest country on Earth is quickly fading away.
That being said, I HATE the way the Internet has divided all of us. The Internet is a parasite, that infects the minds of humans and has their way with them. Hours wasted, goals forgotten, loved ones sitting in houses with each other distracted all day by technology made by the hands of other poor souls in sweat shops in a foreign land.
When is enough, enough? When are we going to fight for what is right again? MILLIONS have died protecting the liberties we have. Freedom of speech is such a precious gift. Never in world history has the world had the freedom it currently does. Don’t let them take it away from you.
Just like those once wandering in the desert, we have lost our way from God and have let false idols distract us and divide us. It’s a damn shame.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Chris Lunsford.  Certainly at some point soon he’ll accept a contract to make enough money to live a comfortable life far removed from the struggling Appalachian behind “Rich Men North of Richmond”.  Millions of new fans affected by his song will hope he never moves too far away.

 

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Taylor Made: Time ‘s 2023 Person With A Uterus Is A Cultural Swiftie

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It’s a sitcom worthy of Norman Lear. Young woman aspires to be a country singer. Winds up instead— oh, the laffs— becoming a cultural icon for other young women with her confessional songs (“Look What You Made Me Do“), sold-out concerts and distinctive fashion choices.

She has a lunkhead football boyfriend with heart of gold (he pushes Covid vaccines). She flies in to watch him play his games. She writes songs like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together“. And she’s a Victim! “(The fight with Kim Kardashian) took me down psychologically to a place I’ve never been before. I moved to a foreign country. I didn’t leave a rental house for a year. I was afraid to get on phone calls. I pushed away most people in my life, because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I went down really, really hard.”

Naturally, Time Magazine votes her 2023 Person The Year. Taylor Swift was (pun alert) tailor-made for the legendary TV producer of All In The Family, Maude and The Jeffersons. Just as Swift defined 2023, Lear defined white urban liberal sensitivities in the late 1960s and onward. His cutting portrait of redneck Archie Bunker was the template for today’s lecture-in-30-minutes TV culture.

The Jeffersons was the epitome of Great Society pandering for white 1960s progressives. Maude was Bea Arthur chewing on the scenery in aid of first-generation feminism, when burning a bra was the funniest thing anyone had ever heard of.

So it’s kismet that the news of Lear’s death and Swift being anointed as Time’s 2023 Person With A Uterus align on the same day. For the crumbling legacy media the empowerment of Swift encapsulates all that they stand for in their opposition to the boor Donald Trump. Waif-ish, cute, fashion-trendsetting— Swift rules the world of their favourite voting demos. “You go, girl!”

The death of Lear at 101, meanwhile, is a nostalgic reminder of the days when three major TV networks and a handful of NYC-based newspapers and magazines determined the culture. When Walter Cronkite declared Viet Nam over on CBS, Lyndon Johnson had no FOX News channel to defend his policies.

(Which inadvertently opened the door for Richard Nixon. Meanwhile, the heavy-handed Bunker parody politicized many rednecks, leading to Ronald Reagan’s accession to POTUS in 1980. But we digress.)

The complacency of the Clever Culture— in the person of Lear protegé Rob Reiner—has been stultifying and self-reinforcing. Eventually most of those captured by it fell wordlessly into the coma of non-binary, cisgendered, trans-accepting, Hamas-has-a-point acceptance that Trump threatens.

It was the same in Canada where for decades CBC dictated the progressive sensibilities to a nation that not only accepted the dogma but paid for it. The appearance this week of their magenta-haired, Brooklyn-based president and CEO perfectly captured that bubble in the 2020s.

Even as Catherine Tait announced that the failing broadcaster was punting ten percent of its workforce, she sniffed when asked by her own National anchor Adrienne Arsenault if Tait and her fellow executives would forgo bonuses as others hit the sidewalk. No comment, replied Tait.

Back in the day when Don Cherry was a thing at @CBC a haughty snob like Tait could brag about the CBC’s inclusivity to justify the Corporation’s billion-dollar grants. “See! We have redneck losers on our channel! We’re diversified.” We wrote about this loss-leader funding strategy in our 2000 book The Meaning Of Puck.

But CBC lost the blue-collar demo when they canned Cherry in 2019 for comments about “you people”. The triumphalism of Cherry’s firing was like the Munchkins in Wizard of Oz celebrating the nasty death of The Wicked Witch. Freed from the bombastic Cherry the Corp was now free to lecture its viewers without interruption.

But that’s not quite how it worked out. Now when Tait and her Woke sensibilities show up it’s just a Brooklyn toff with a $5.4 million home pretending to understand Canada with her hand out. There’s no ornery guy left espousing Remembrance Day poppies and fighting in hockey to prove her Canadian bonafides.

It shows in the TV ratings for The National where audiences of two million are now in the low hundred-thousands (on a good night). Abandoned by traditional viewers uncomfortable with the NDP sensibilities of the news and current affairs departments, CBC has furiously sought to ensnare the younger demographics in its social media operation, (funded by starving its traditional services).

“@jkay Even in my left wing neighborhood, it’s hard to find anybody who watches the CBC. To the extent they still defend it, it’s the CBC they remember from 25 yrs ago, when Peter Gzowski was still around, instead of Carol Off hectoring us about how we’re all racists & garbage feminists.”

Good luck with that, especially if Pierre Poilievre wins a predicted crushing majority and acts on his stated goal of defenestrating the home of announcers who think the Truckers Convoy was a Putin plot. Again, Tait was at her most tone-deaf, calling Poilievre out publicly for his plans for the Corp.

She then doubled down on her gaffe, telling journalist Paul Wells— who’d been hand-selected for a media exclusive—“I understand that my remarks may have caused trouble for some of the journalists who have struggled to get access to this leader and others in the party, and I regret that, of course… Do I regret calling out the wrong of defunding the public broadcaster campaign? Absolutely not.”

She then reinforced her commitment  to producing more of the hectoring, ESG/ Woke crap that no one wants already. While Tait seems oblivious to losing her sinecure as the commuter CEO, most of the employees remaining after this latest cut will be updating their resumés and escape tapes.

No one expects that Poilievre will completely gut the Corp. There’s talk of a buffet of current services— local radio, weather, children’s programming and especially social media— surviving.

But the days when the Corp— like Norman Lear— could force its politics on an inert population are done. Maybe Taylor Swift can write a sing about the CBC’s plight. Wait, she already did: “Is It Over Now?“.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.  https://share.hsforms.com/16edbhhC3TTKg6jAaRyP7rActsj5

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Rahm Gone: We Should LIV So Long

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Rahm, Rahm, Rahm, you’ve been gone so long, you’ve been gone, gone, gone so long. — Chilliwack (sorta’)

Anyone who says they understand what’s happening in golf world doesn’t understand the golf world. To understate the case, these are not the best of times for the Tiger Woods-dominated PGA Tour. First, Tiger is hardly playing, and he’s still the biggest asset they’ve got. Second, Greg Norman’s LIV Tour is hemorrhaging money but still has a fortune to lure Jon Rahm. Third, NBC punted announcer Paul Azinger for not putting talcum on the backsides of players before he criticized them.

Fourth? Well, consider the past nine months:

After swearing a blood oath to players that he would never make any deals with the renegade LIV golf operation, commissioner Jay Monahan then cut his biggest loyalist, Rory McIlroy, off at the knees in June by announcing he’d secretly concluded a merger deal with the Saudi Arabian Investment Fund that underwrites LIV. (A deal that’s yet to be finally consummated.)

The pampered U.S. darlings of Tiger’s Tour were then eviscerated in September’s Ryder Cup in Italy, an event defined by Patrick Cantlay refusing to wear a team hat. Depending on whom you consult it either tore apart the U.S. dressing room or was no big whoop. (Cantlay lost his Goldman Sachs sponsorship soon after)

McIlroy— who almost came to blows with caddie Joe LaCava during the Ryder Cup— later announced that he was removing himself from his role as a dominant voice on the Tour Players Council. He claimed fatigue and frustration over dividing his concentration from golf itself. Jordan Spieth was announced as a short-term, very reluctant replacement.

That was followed by news that Monahan was out as commissioner just as soon as he completes the negotiations with LIV for the anticipated merger. A likely replacement will need the approval of the oft-injured Woods whose TV star power still dominates the Tour’s television ratings.

However Tiger’s game-but-lame performance last week on one good leg at his own event The Hero Challenge meant that his long domination of the Tour is probably dead and buried. As much as GolfChannel tries to put a smiley face on Woods playing once a month, there is no one to fill the celebrity gap that he leaves.

Which brings us to the worst news for the Tiger Tour: Spaniard Jon Rahm, arguably the No.1 player of the Tour, is taking his act to the dreaded LIV Tour— perhaps as soon as this week. After fervently committing to the Tour earlier this year, Rahm has apparently tired of the Woods/ McIroy cabal that dominates the Tour. Stories have circulated how he’s been frozen out of the south Florida cliques that dominate the Tour.

If he can get some adjustments made to LIV’s format he’ll be paid a reported a staggering $600 M to join his countryman Sergio Garcia’s team at LIV. Remember that Rahm doesn’t need money. He’s got tons. So this move would solely be about pride and reputation.

Perennial grouchy Golfchannel analyst Brandel Chamblee finds it distasteful to do business with the sheiks. “If it were offered to me by the mafia, or in this case at the behest of MBS/Saudis, knowing the money was derived from corruption and used for the benefit of some very bad people, the decision would be very simple. There is a difference between value and values.”

Not that he will disappear into the discotheque world of Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman. Rahm could still qualify for all the Tour majors next year while wearing short pants the rest of the time. The absence of the mercurial Spaniard at the rest of the Tour’s top-level events will leave a huge gap on a charisma-challenged tour. Current No. 1 Scottie Scheffler is about as exciting as The Weather Channel.

While LIV is still an unwatched work in progress, powered by the vast wealth of SA, a Rahm signing shows that the sheiks have no signs of  backing off their challenge to the comfy traditionalists of the Tour. As we see in Gaza, memories go back a long way in the Middle East, and slights aren’t forgotten easily.

Then came the news that the PGA and the R&A in Britain have finally announced that the juicing of golf balls will be stopped. Going forward balls used in competition will have five percent less distance, reducing the threat the supersonic balls pose to the traditional golf courses on Tour, which bombers have brought to their knees with driver/ wedge strategies.

This satisfies Woods, the Tour’s upper echelon and some golf-course architects. For the rest of humanity the decision to remove the most visceral thrill in the sport— knocking the daylights out of your driver—is less positive. Once again, Chamblee is leading the snark (although we agree with him this time). “I appreciate the governing bodies and what they mean to the game, but on the roll back issue they are not only out of touch with the game they govern, but the people that play it. It is a very small number of people that are in favour of a roll back…

“But take the fun out of the game ( FYI, long drives are fun), and demand falls. And, there is absolutely no reason to lengthen golf courses to challenge the best players. Lengthening golf courses is a knee jerk reaction that only makes the “problem” of distance gains worse.”

One small ray of sunshine for Canadians. The Tour has finally gotten the Canadian Open away from its slot the week before the U.S. Open. This year’s week-long celebration ion Nick Taylor’s 72-foot putt will go in the last week of May. Hopefully this will bring a better field. So we got that going for us.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.  https://share.hsforms.com/16edbhhC3TTKg6jAaRyP7rActsj5

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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