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Oliver Anthony, Music, and Human Exceptionalism

Honest music speaks to the heart and brings us closer together.

If you’ve been online at all for the last few weeks, chances are you’ve come across headlines about the folk/country singer Oliver Anthony, whose song “Rich Men North of Richmond” went viral in August.

The song, a broad critique of elite power in Washington D.C., (Democrat and Republican) has gained both applause and fierce critique, but for the most part, seems to have deeply resonated with the general American public. Psychologist Jordan B. Peterson recently had Anthony on his podcast, discussing music, entrepreneurship, and virality.

One thing is clear about Anthony’s songs: they’re honest, and people are attracted to that. Peterson noted in their conversation that authenticity is a sign of brilliance in artists, and how that sort of honesty makes works of art timeless and enduring in the cultural imagination.

Could a robot have that kind of influence in the music world? Could AI sing a song like Oliver Anthony? Maybe “technically,” but it’s doubtful such a song could have this kind of impact or be this soulful and rich (no pun intended). Art is personal. At its best, it speaks to the heart, and brings us closer together.

You can listen to their full conversation here:

Peter Biles

Writer and Editor, Center for Science & Culture
Peter Biles graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He is the author of Hillbilly Hymn and Keep and Other Stories and has also written stories and essays for a variety of publications. He was born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma and is the Writer and Editor for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.

Oliver Anthony, Music, and Human Exceptionalism