Billy Bragg writes "Rich Men Earning North of a Million" as an antidote to Oliver Anthony's "Rich Men North of Richmond"

You might have seen the video that's been circulating in the last week or two of musician Oliver Anthony singing "Rich Men North of Richmond"—which Radio WV is calling the "Blue Collar Song of the Year." It's an earnest, haunting song that sounds like it's in the tradition of working-class songwriters like Woody Guthrie. It starts off that way, anyway, but, this promising working-class anthem unfortunately by the second verse turns into a fat-shaming screed against poor people. 

Thankfully, Billy Bragg is here to help this poor misguided soul who came close to a helpful message of solidarity but lost his way. Today, Bragg posted a new song in response to "Rich Men North of Richmond" and it is, of course, the remedy we needed. Bragg introduced the song, "Rich Men Earning North of a Million" on his Facebook page:

I guess it's been a week since I first saw a clip of Oliver Anthony singing his song about "Rich Men North of Richmond." It's caused a few waves since then and every time I read about it, I hear the ghost of Woody Guthrie whispering in my ear, telling me to help the guy out. "You and me both know there's an obvious answer to those problems he's singing about" Woody keeps saying, so today I sat down and wrote this response to Oliver Anthony's song.

He adds on his YouTube that this song is "for people like him and people like you." Here are some of Bragg's lyrics:

If you're selling your soul, working all day, overtime hours for bullshit pay

Well, nothing's gonna change if all you do is wish you could wake up and it not be true

Join a union, fight for better pay

You better join a union, brother

Organize today

You'll see where the problem really lies when the union comes around

Rich men earning north of a million wanna keep the working folk down

Wanna keep the working folk down

If you form a union you'll soon find that working people are all of one kind

So we ain't gonna punch down on those who need a bit of understanding and some solidarity

That ain't right, friend

If you're struggling with your health and you're putting on the pounds 

Doctor gives you opiates to help you get around

Well, wouldn't it be better for folks like you and me if medicine was subsidized and healthcare was free

Join a union, fight for better pay

Come on a join a union, sister

Organize today

For an actual working-class anthem, you can go ahead and skip Oliver Anthony's song and go straight to Billy Bragg's, in my opinion. Listen to the rest of the song here. Enjoy!