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Brother Marshall and the Choir of Fire - "All the Gold in California" (2023 Rough House Records)

Cover Image for Brother Marshall and the Choir of Fire - "All the Gold in California" (2023 Rough House Records)

w Larry Gatlin; Single

I got into HBO's The Righteous Gemstones a few months ago and just finished the third season, from whence we get this splendiferous rendition of the Gatlin Brothers' "All the Gold in California". The song's sung in the show by contemporary Country-singer Sturgill Simpson, who cameos as a minor character called Marshall - in fact the show version's a little different and better than the soundtrack recording but I won't spoil anything...the clip is here if you like, and the show is a little slept on and very worthwhile if you haven't seen it:

Larry Gatlin says he wrote "All the Gold in California" while he was in a traffic jam:

"...stuck in a traffic jam in 1978, right in front of the Hollywood Bowl, and right in front of me was a 1958 Mercury station wagon with Oklahoma license plates. It had a bunch of kids and boxes and, you know, pots and pans and stuff.

And I said to myself, because I had read John Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath' … 'These poor folks, they're coming out to California to get rich and famous, and they're gonna find out all too quickly that all the gold in California is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills in somebody else's name.'"

This song's what they call Secular Gospel (presumably. I'd call it that anyway...), an apparent oxymoron that means it's got the trappings of Gospel (especially Southern Gospel), without being in-your-face religious. It's kind of like the Anglican Church. Or The Righteous Gemstones, mm-hrm...?

Compare "Down By the Riverside" (trad.), "Talk About the Good Times" (Jerry Reed), "You'll Never Walk Alone" (Rodgers & Hammerstein). How exactly is this Gospel? Cause...it's vaguely edifying? Flying under the radar perhaps? There's lots o' harmony - at least four parts...something like that.

Just take it on faith...

"All the Gold in California" also parallels the story of a certain Season 3 Righteous Gemstones character...but I have said too much. It's a great show, very uniquely dramedic, and poignant, and with a killer Gospel+ soundtrack you can find more examples of below...

Also Check Out:

By the Bachelors:

"Faraway Places" - YouTube | Spotify

By Melanie (Safka):

"Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) - YouTube | Spotify

By Buddy Knox:

"I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself" - YouTube | Spotify

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