The following was written during an internship with the podcast department at Mushroom Group where I wrote a series of articles about each episode of Some of My Best Work. Due to a website redesign none were published. These were left unedited.
Jack River is the moniker of Holly Rankin.
Outside of music, she’s also behind Grow Your Own festival and women’s empowerment platform Electric Lady.
Holly says Fool’s Gold is her best work.
The song appeared on her debut album Sugar Mountain in 2018.
Fool’s Gold’s lyrics came to Holly as she was on New York’s Lower East Side in 2016.
“I was walking and saw a bar called Fool’s Gold, and that line in the chorus just floated into my head, this metaphor that fool’s gold looks so shiny and easy on the eyes, but it’s not real gold.”
“From there, I just kept walking and writing this song in my head, and I was like, Okay, this is an awesome idea. I’m just gonna keep walking.”
As she walked down the streets, her imagination went wild as she took in her surroundings.
“I think I’m hyper imaginative, and that’s like a power that I needed to keep alive for music.”
The song opens with a line referencing a guy Holly had a crush on at the time.
He didn’t feel the same way about her, and he also didn’t like rollercoasters.
Those ideas became mixed in with her surroundings as Holly walked through New York.
“I walked past a little florist and I just saw these two stars in a pocket and I just remember thinking, how romantic is the idea of two stars, these giant galactic faraway things.”
Those inspirations led to the lyrics which open Fool’s Gold.
You don’t like rollercoasters
How could you ever love a girl like me?
I took you to the end of my street
So you could see my bones were cut with a promise to you
Our stars came in a packet of two
Once Fool’s Gold was written, Holly went into the studio with big plans.
“I felt this emotion, that real big life feeling. I wanted that reflected in the production but not in a highly produced Taylor Swift way.”
“So for me, that meant stacks of guitars, acoustics, 12 strings, different kinds of electrics, and then a driving beat that symbolizes pushing forward relentlessly.”
Holly created a scrapbook to plan out her album, and Fool’s Gold contains its own collage of sounds.
Hidden within the song are video game effects, sounds from a party, and even dolphins.
But underneath those sounds there is still a fantastic pop song, and in 2019 Holly released a new acoustic version.
“I originally wrote Fool’s Gold from a place of rebellion, and carved the production to match that feeling, though when I recorded the acoustic version, all the melancholy and sadness came racing out like summer rain,” she said at the time.
Reflecting on why Fool’s Gold is her best work, Holly said the song proved she could do this herself.
“I really genuinely needed to figure this out in my life and needed to write this song. It’s like mental medicine and I think songs like that, if they resonate with you so much, they’re gonna resonate with other people.”
Fool’s Gold became the first single for her album, and in 2020 it went Platinum, having sold over 70,000 copies in Australia.
The album Sugar Mountain also earned several ARIA Award nominations, and reached #11 on the charts.
“With Jack River, I’ve created incredible communities with my listeners and the public, and I’m looking so forward to jumping back in with new music and live shows to feel that really closely again.”
This year Holly has already been able to play live again, including a set at the Sydney Opera House where the crowd went wild for Fool’s Gold.
New music sounds like its right around the corner, with an album she describes as “less of an album and more of a world”.
We can’t wait to explore it.