19 songs that share the spirit of 'Rich Men North of Richmond'

Samuel Corum | Contributor | Getty Images

Remember late summer? When the biggest thing people had to argue about was a three-minute video of a guy in the woods playing a Gretsch resonator guitar and belting out an angry lament for the working class?

In all the fuss over “Rich Men North of Richmond,” too many important people misunderstood the song’s true nature. They assumed it was a rant, when it's really a testimony.

Too many important people misunderstood the song’s true nature.

Oliver Anthony’s detractors cynically tried to reduce his song to ideology; they were quick to denounce him for being too “right-wing” (he’s against welfare cheats), too liberal (he’s for diversity), and not authentic enough (he fakes his southern accent). But “Rich Men North of Richmond” is art, not an editorial. Implicit in the indignation Anthony channels is hope for the future and faith in the transformative power of music. It’s something we badly need at the moment.

Implicit in the indignation Anthony channels is hope for the future and faith in the transformative power of music.

Good news, then, from Anthony’s hometown newspaper: The singer plans on spending November and December writing new songs for release early next year. Oh, and he and his wife, Tiffany, welcomed a healthy baby boy (their third child) this past weekend.

Anthony articulates a yearning that is as much spiritual as it is material. It roots him in a rich musical tradition. I’ve put together the following playlist, which you can find in its entirety here, to give a sampling of that tradition while tiding us over until the follow-up to “Rich Men.” It’s not a ranking, although I do recommend listening to it sequentially.

Sometimes, in order to survive, we only need to be told that our pilgrimage is strange and bitter. That the weight of our troubles is not minor. That for all the love and beauty that we receive and cherish, heartbreak and rejection and depravity are enough to break a person open.

Anthony articulates a yearning that is as much spiritual as it is material.

So—in a world of people who have almost entirely given up on freedom, who can never regain all that they’ve lost, who have made giant sacrifices so that the powerful people can enjoy a life without inconvenience — there’s tremendous hope in the popularity of “Rich Men.”

Obviously, this should have been the story all along: Human freedom can still be awoken and possibly even revived, if only as the stirrings of heartache delivered by song.

Because despite the braying of our professional loudmouths, “Rich Men North of Richmond” has nothing to do with a world of their making. Politics is all too often merely a tool of a deceiver. But ultimately it should only be considered a veil. A veil only has power in its ability to mask truths or enhance the hunger for the mysteries: songs of true resistance.

19 songs that share the spirit of 'Rich Men North of Richmond'

1. “Thoughts on Greetings from Amarillo” by Hayden Pedigo

Photo courtesy of Hayden Pedigo

Our starting place seems quiet, but it’s not. As a poem by outlaw-country legend Terry Allen, as a kind of summation of Hayden Pedigo’s lovely album of country-western ambient resplendence.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

2. “Pray for the USA” by the Clark Sisters

Chris Gregory | A+E Networks

In 1985, a supergroup of pop artists drew attention to the plight of starving Africans with the vague, feel-good appeal to unity “We Are the World.” One year later, the biggest-selling female gospel group of all time had the audacity both to bring the focus back to our own messed-up country and to propose an explicitly Christian solution. Those drums, those vocals, each melody and lift – it all gives the lie to the notion that the most effective art must abandon God in favor of “universality.”

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

3. “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen

Larry Hulst | Michael Ochs Archives | Getty Images

Few songwriters can tell the story of an American nobody like Bruce Springsteen. And "Nebraska," as an album full of stories about broken and emptied Americans, an album so dark that Springsteen declined to tour on it, is the finest example, with its four-track electricity replacing the E Street Band, a howling skeleton of an album bursting with tracks like “State Trooper,” a cop-killer ballad inspired by the band Suicide.

The Boss described this period of his career in his autobiography, "Born to Run": “I had no conscious political agenda or social theme. I was after a feeling, a tone that felt like the world I’d known and still carried inside me.” Similarly, Oliver Anthony has repeatedly — unequivocally — made it clear that his animating force is in no way political. The important connection between “Atlantic City” and “Rich Men” arises from the lyrics as much as the churn of their animating spirit, the discomfort of loving and hating this country at the same time.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

4. “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash

Peter Noble / Contributor | Getty Images

In many ways, “Rich Men” is just a cover of “The Message.” For one, the visceral and shattering images: broken people who rob their way to prison, where their "manhood [gets] took" until they're a "Maytag" until they get Epsteined. Like "Pray for the USA" and “A Country Boy Can Survive," the framing of the world described by Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, and Duke Bootee is diseased by double-digit inflation and political turmoil that has shoved its way onto the streets and clogged up the train station.

“The Message,” like “Rich Men,” is an anthem for the anthem-less. Few songs are cooler than “The Message,” which only adds boldness to the lyrics (tragic, despondent, bitter, even angry) to craft a song that is both firmly alive in 1984 and unstoppably timeless. Grandmaster Flash’s vivid, unsparing depiction of urban crime and violence doesn’t patronize the poor with narratives of oppression and victimhood. Instead it invokes older, less fashionable notions of responsibility and agency, with a grittiness that keeps it from being preachy. Flash’s use of the second person makes it clear that none of us, no matter how rich or poor, are immune to the greed and delusion it depicts.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

5. “Natural’s Not In It” by Gang of Four

Jay Schwarz | The Rolling Stone

Gang of Four’s 1979 debut “Entertainment!” finds the Leeds-based quartet already in peak form, with wry, political lyrics wedded to the pounce of funk and the snarl of punk. Their outlook is generally labeled “left-wing,” but that word hardly means the same thing now as it did 40 years ago.

Consider the surprising biblical reference in “Natural’s Not In It”: “Remember Lot’s wife / Renounce all sin and vice / Dream of the perfect life / This heaven gives me migraine.” Ironic? Maybe, but I hear the same exhaustion “Rich Men” conveys. If it’s clever, it’s because total indignation occasionally spills into humor, however fleeting.

6. “That’s All Right” by Håkan Hellström

Fredrik Nystedt | Rockfoto

Released in 2016, “That’s All Right” is Håkan Hellström’s remix of an a cappella from a compilation titled “Been in the Storm So Long: A Collection of Spirituals, Folk Tales and Children's Games from Johns Island, SC,” sung by obscure Gullah gospel singer named Laura Rivers, a member of the Moving Star Hall Singers, a movement grounded in its own fascinating history. This version is itself, beautifully, a rendition of “Seat in the Kingdom,” a gospel song commonly shorthanded to “That’s Alright” (sic).

Of all the songs on this list, “That’s All Right” shares the deepest emotional essence of “Rich Men.” The heartbreak, the lostness, and yet the hope lurking below all of it, as evinced by its central focus on Jacob’s Ladder, the wild story of a broken man.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

7. “People” by J Dilla

Courtest of Brian Cross | Pitchfork

“People” is far more than a reimagining of “My People … Hold On” by Eddie Kendricks, itself a deeply political song, on the solo album that differentiated him from the Temptations. It’s also somehow more than one of the finest tracks on “Donuts,” a truly flawless album with a poignant, beautiful, heartbreaking backstory.

The connection to “Rich Men” rises from Eddie Kendricks’ voice, which Dilla clipped perfectly and wove into one of his finest beats, as Eddie Kendricks announces, “People, the time has come.”

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

8. “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell

Silver Screen Collection | Getty Images

Few songs are as good as “Wichita Lineman.” It’s like “God Only Knows” for flyover-state nobodies. “Rich Men” is the voice of the Wichita lineman, praying for rain so he can take the day off.

A write-up in the Independent hailed it “the first existential country song." Bob Dylan described it as “the greatest song ever written.” Every time I hear “Wichita Lineman” again, for the millionth time, from perfect twang to that weird little drum solo shuffle that concludes this masterpiece, and the Jimmy Webb-composed story that thrives throughout it, I think Dylan could be right.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

9. “Psalm 23” by Poor Bishop Hooper

Courtesy of Poor Bishop Hooper

Augustine said that “every visible thing in this world is put under the charge of an angel.” Proof: “Psalm 23” by Poor Bishop Hooper, a “cover version” that somehow conveys the solace and mystery of a song written 3,000 years ago. The husband-and-wife duo Jesse and Leah Roberts have recorded all 150 psalms for their EveryPsalm project. To listen is to understand that the tradition of “protest music” begins when man contends with God. I mean, just check out this backstory. (Charming coincidence: Yesterday, as I paused from assembling this list, a few months in the making, the Responsorial Psalm was Psalm 23.)

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

10. “Unsatisfied” by the Replacements

Robert Matheu | Camera Press | Redux

It took some spine for these alt-rock pioneers to rip off the Beatles for the title of their third album, “Let It Be.” Then again, what better answer to the self-satisfied Boomer serenity of the Beatles’s penultimate single than the restless, rebellious “Unsatisfied”?

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

11. “If We Forget God” by the Louvin Brothers

Courtesy of the artist's estate

Even before their classic 1959 gospel bluegrass album “Satan Is Real,” these country music legends weren’t hesitant to point out the existence of true evil. This early song shares many things with “Rich Men,” like a sorrow for the sins of a great world and the ruin that lurks behind the spectacle of modern existence. But it also shares its hidden mission: “So many are climbing fame's golden hill / By singing of evil that gives this world a thrill / But I sing of Jesus and though they won't hear / God will bless me for doing His will.”

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

12. “You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks” by Funkadelic

Michael Ochs Archives | Getty Images

Like everything on 1971’s “Maggot Brain,” this track is political in the slyest, funkiest, wildest way. While “Rich Men” couldn’t be more different stylistically, the showmanship with which Anthony gets his message across makes him Funkadelic’s spiritual heir.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

13. “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr.

Mark Hirsch | Getty Images

Life on the margins has its advantages. You can do what you want, and a little self-sufficiency will come in handy when SHTF. Leave it to Bocephus to stick it to the urban elites in style. Hillbilly poetics at their finest.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

14. “Have You Been Good to Yourself” by Johnnie Frierson

Light in the Attic Records

This is basic Jordan Peterson “clean your room” stuff, as laid down by an obscure Memphis R&B genius decades before “12 Rules for Life.” “If you’re not gonna be good to yourself, then you’re not gonna be good to others.” Doesn’t this idea sound oddly familiar? To certain people in 2023, the sheer simplicity of this advice offends – as does the suggestion to keep faith in God and follow the Ten Commandments.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

15. “Waitin' Around to Die” by Townes Van Zandt

Press Image | Townes Van Zandt

If this song doesn’t punch you in the gut and rip your heart in two, you may be a Replicant. Especially if we’re talking about this version. The way that the older man reacts, that’s the secret of “Rich Men.”


16. “B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)" by GZA

Gary Wolstenholme | Redferns

Of the many great Wu-Tang solo albums, GZA’s “Liquid Swords” might be the best. And this deeply personal chronicle of one man’s spiritual quest as he navigates the snares of this world is a big reason why. “I loved doing right but I was trapped in hell.”

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

17. “Annabelle” by Gillian Welch

Paxton X | Bold Life

If you were looking for a female counterpart to “Rich Men,” it would be this strange and beautiful gem. “And we cannot have all things to please us / No matter how we try / Until we've all gone to Jesus / We can only wonder why.”

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

18. “Dream On” by Robyn

Mike Coppola | Getty Images and Angela Hsieh | NPR

“Dream On” by Robyn is one of the strangest examples of a non-Christian song that captures the total essence of Christianity.

The third verse gets me every time. It captures all of us — if it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, then what could? It’s the kind of song that can make the lowest nobody feel like a someone: “Freaks and junkies / Fakes and phonies / Drunks and cowards / Manic preachers / Rest your weary heads / All is well / You won't be pushed or messed with tonight / You won't be lied to, roughed up tonight / You won't be insane, paranoid, obsessed / Aimlessly wandering through the dark night / So dream on.”

This is the only version of the song, as far as I’m concerned.

19. “Lopin’ Along Through the Cosmos” by Judee Sill

Gijsbert Hanekroot | Redferns | Getty Images

This lesser-known masterpiece by the quintessential 1960s Jesus freak is convincing evidence that Christ lives outside our concept of time, constantly new and alive, always and forever. And while the spiritual warfare that characterized Sill’s work and life is often poetic enough to be philosophy, it’s kin to “Rich Men North of Richmond” in its untamable God-devoted wildness.

Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube

POLL: Should Universities allow pro-Hamas protests?

Joseph Prezioso / Contributor | Getty Images

Just one day after Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel, which left over 1,400 people Israelis dead, 34 different student groups from Harvard University wrote a joint statement pinning the blame of Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel. In the following days after publishing this callous statement, these students staged a walkout and rallied in support of the Palestinians. As Glenn has discussed, this is not an isolated event, and campuses across the country have hosted similar rallies where antisemitic jargon like "we don't want no Jew state" and "globalize the intifada" is freely spewed.

Should Universities allow pro-Hamas protests?

While the Universities have not officially backed any of these rallies or student groups that organized them, they haven't stopped them either, which raises the question: should they? On one hand, these are American students in American Universities, who are protected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, history tells us how dangerous antisemitism is if left unchecked; and what of the rights of Jewish students to be safe on the campuses they pay to attend? Let us know what you think in the poll below:

Should Universities allow pro-Hamas protests? 

Would you feel safe if your child attended a University that allowed pro-Hamas protests?

 Should Universities allow pro-Israel protests?

Is pro-Hamas rhetoric protected by the First Amendment?

POLL: What do YOU think Israel should do about Gaza?

SAID KHATIB / Contributor | Getty Images

Should Israel take over Gaza after defeating Hamas? This contentious historical question has resurfaced amid Israel's retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza following Hamas' terror attacks, which resulted in the greatest death of Jews since the Holocaust. Biden and the global elites have warned Israel against occupation of the Palestinian territory. When asked on 60 Minutes if he would support the Israeli occupation of Gaza, Biden said, “I think it would be a big mistake.” Today Glenn responded to Biden’s answer: “I don't think it's a mistake to occupy."

This has been a long-standing, polarizing issue that is now more relevant than ever, and we want to hear YOUR thoughts. Let us know in the poll below:

Would you support an Israeli occupation of Gaza?

Do you think the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza are justified?

Do you think a two-state solution is still possible?

Funding IRAN?! Here are the TOP 5 reasons Joe Biden should be IMPEACHED

Bloomberg / Contributor | Getty Images

On September 12th, the House announced an official impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden with allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption. Naturally, the media quickly jumped to the President’s aid claiming that “there is no evidence to support these claims” and that the whole affair is a witch hunt.

If you’ve been listening to Glenn, you know that this is simply not the case. Biden has been committing impeachment-worthy deeds before he even stepped foot into the Oval Office—there’s no shortage of evidence to justify this inquiry. Here are 5 scathing reasons why Biden should be impeached:

He was responsible for the Afghanistan withdrawal disaster.

Click here for full video

The Biden administration began with the US's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Under his watch, Biden left thousands of US citizens and allies stranded in the Taliban's hostile regime. Countless Afghan allies have been murdered by the Taliban due to the Biden administration's negligence.

He was involved with Hunter Biden's illicit foreign business dealings.

Click here for full video

There is clear evidence that Joe Biden was more than aware of his son Hunter's foreign business dealings. From suspicious money laundering through the Biden family's accounts to Joe's involvement with important business meetings within Hunter's company, there is mounting evidence to warrant an impeachment inquiry.

He lied about his involvement with Hunter's business dealings.

Click here for full video

Not only did Biden involve himself with his son's less-than-legal foreign business ventures, but he lied to the American people about it too, claiming he had NO KNOWLEDGE of what was going on.

He failed to protect the Southern border, and actively made it worse.

Click here for full video

Biden singlehandedly turned the Southern border into the worst illegal immigration crisis in US history. He reversed many policies set in place by the Trump administration, resulting in 2.3 million illegal immigrants flooding into the US under his watch, a historic high.


Click here for full video

Biden reversed the Trump-era policy that halted all funds going into Iran. The Wall Street Journal revealed the smoking-gun evidence proving that Iran trained AND funded Hamas before its gruesome terror attacks against Israel. Moreover, shortly before the attacks, the Biden administration unfroze $6 BILLION dollars of Iran's assets as a part of a prisoner swap. On top of this, Biden resumed $200 million worth of "humanitarian aid" to Gaza that Trump had ended—because the money was being used to buy weapons for Hamas.

Top 5 economic milestones that show HOW BAD Bidenomics has made the economy

SAUL LOEB / Contributor | Getty Images

From groceries to house prices, everything seems to get more expensive, and you can thank Biden for that. Glenn recently exposed the truth about 'Bidenomics' and the havoc it has wrought on the American economy. Here are five economic milestones during the Biden administration that expose the glaring track record of "Bidenomics:"

In July 2022, the inflation rate hit 9.1 percent, a 40-year record high.

In June 2022, gas hit an all time record high of $5 a gallon for the national average.

61 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck as of this September.

Interest rates reached a 15-year high at 5.25 percent and are still increasing.

Americans have $1 trillion in collective credit card debt, in part due to food/staple pieces being very high.