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A Blue-Collar Opinion on "Rich Men North of Richmond"


Photo by Raychel Sanner on Unsplash
Photo by Raychel Sanner on Unsplash

When you turn on the radio, there is a good chance you will hear a song about sex, drugs, murder, and annoying noises with no real meaning. It's almost reminiscent of staring into a vast pit of vanity that contains nothing but shallow bits of what the media thinks individuals strive for. It's enough to make someone turn off the radio and listen to a podcast or audiobook.

When "Rich Men North of Richmond" hit the national stage, it grabbed the attention of thousands. Opening lyrics that said, "I've been sellin' my soul, working all day. Overtime hours for bullshit pay" spoke something that other songs lacked. It held something that blue-collar workers could relate to.

"Rich Men North of Richmond" isn't a song written to get someone dancing. It's a feeling that many across this nation hold, the rich are building their wealth on the backs of an overtaxed, overworked majority. It's a song that says what working-class Americans say to each other in their living rooms.

But it's fatphobic. That is the headline that everyone focuses on. Meanwhile, they ignore the next two lyrics that say, "Young men are puttin' themselves six feet in the ground. 'Cause all this damn country does is keep on kickin' them down".

It's right-wing propaganda. As an Independent, this complaint always amuses me. Last I checked, raising low wages has always been a primarily Democratic talking point. But besides that eyebrow-raising thought, it seems odd that someone would claim that lyrics talking about homeless individuals starving on the street and the rich controlling everything is somehow a highly polarized hot button.

From where I sit in rural Oklahoma, "Rich Men North of Richmond" speaks about very real problems in our communities. While gas prices go up, politicians try to raise taxes, and corporations are outsourcing jobs to other countries, it only makes sense that working-class Americans would find a sense of being heard in this song. And at the end of the day, the negative articles only seem to drive more individuals to listen to "Rich Men North of Richmond". After all, that is how I discovered it.

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