It’s Saturday, August 26, and I’m way too hungover. I’ll try to keep this quick. That being said, I do want to rage and rant. Though before I trigger the editor here with copious amounts of curses, let me start with a little story.
I’m a songwriter who’s sold publishing rights to 18 songs and has won 12 1st-place contests with my music. Two years ago (when I had only sold 11 songs at the time), I asked myself a deep question: How can people love my songs so much yet I don’t have a hit on the radio? So, I befriended (sorta) a songwriter named Clay Mills via his blog, and I joined his website, Song Town, which Mills co-owns with another songwriter, Marty Dodson. Their pitch is rather simple. “We’ll teach you what you need to know to be successful in today’s market.” Paraphrased, of course, but that’s the site’s entire point of existing. So, anyway, I signed up there, spammed a few songs, won back-to-back “Song of the Month” badges, and was all chest-out thinking I was the little king of everything.
But Clay Mills and Marty Dodson confirmed my suspicions about modern pop-country music (Or, “White-Boy SIMP-Hop,” as I like to call it). They would remind me–while their brainwashed members would berate me–that modern, commercial-friendly country needs to be dumbed-down. You can’t use “big” words that the common rabble don’t understand. Songs have to be under 3-minutes-30-seconds to keep the plebs’ attention. You have to talk about trucks and beer and partying and other redneck-friendly slogans. Does it sound like I’m patronizing you? Well, it sounded like they were patronizing me - condescending little ass-hats who played right into the corporate-controlled country market.
(Try That in a Small Town wasn’t written; hate to break it to you. It was factory-farmed via four corporate-approved songwriters who used populous slogans to make the right-wing clap like baby seals.)
I learned that almost every damn song you’re going to hear from the “country” genre today is just farmed from a factory where stale, popular slogans are used, and where small little wordlettes are interlaced between a catchy, ear-worm chorus to make you want to record a TikTok video of yourself shaking your ass to the fake, studio-produced beat.
Long story short: I insulted those dimwit culture-killers at every opportunity and was promptly banned from the site. I can’t stand this modern nonsense. It has no soul; it no longer tells a story. It’s corporate-friendly “songwriters” piece-mealing together common-use slogans and buzzwords to placate the masses, using canned studio tracks that insert electronic snaps on the downbeat. It’s horrible. Whatever happened to the Outlaws?
This brings me to Oliver Anthony, the hick-lib. Oh, before we get into what a phony this Yankee-sounding pretender is, you might want an explanation of “hick-lib.” Well, a hick-lib is a liberal-minded culture vulture who uses a fake Southern accent and acceptable Southern slang to infiltrate our culture and to ultimately grift off of us while they preach about the awesomeness of diversity and how great things would be if we in the South weren’t so bigoted and backwards.
Anthony’s song “Rich Men North of Richmond” took the world by storm. The usual suspects on the right instantly promoted it. Kirk, Walsh, Shapiro, on and on; they all pushed it as the greatest modern protest song ever. Being a songwriter who’s well known in certain social circles (not really, but let me pretend for a second), dozens of people asked me what I thought about it. They tagged me on Twitter, sent me DMs, etc. I told the truth: It’s a corporate-friendly novelty song that uses right-wing slogans to target tired, frustrated people who do not have a voice. Do not trust this fella, fellas.
A sample of Anthony’s lyrics I would use to make my point:
“I wish politicians would look out for miners
And not just minors on an island somewhere
Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothin’ to eat
And the obese milkin’ welfare”
I think that’s boilerplate and very nursery-rhyme-ish, and moreover, just slogans from the right-wing, basically. Though I like the alliteration there with “street/eat/obese.” That’s somewhat decent. But from my experience of being shut out of the industry, and my experience with Song Town, I knew right away that this was just some guy who wanted to use the political angst of the working-class, voiceless Southern-right to catapult himself to popularity. But I have 3,000 followers on Twitter. Who am I to tell Matt Walsh to stop being so damn gullible?
I take no pride in being right. In fact, I’m disappointed. I’d rather be wrong and admit such than to be right and disgusted that yet another hick-lib grifts off of the valid angst of the Southern-right, by pretending to be one of us.
You can hear his real voice - not a hint of a Southern accent. You can see him praise diversity, read him lavish praise on Joe Biden, and it’s just extremely obvious that here’s a guy who used the right-wing to make his life a little bit easier financially.
Though this does bring up a valid question: Do we blame the snake oil salesman for selling snake oil, or the dumb-asses who keep buying it every single time he knocks?
Brian Hendrix is a singer-songwriter who has won and placed in over 20 songwriting contests, winning 12 1st-place prizes. He has also sold publishing rights to 18 of his songs. He doesn’t have any hits under his belt to date, but you never know what the future holds.