Everything that happens in this world is in your name: This is the message that the song All In Your Name (Michael Jackson & Barry Gibb) carries. The song urges to put an end to wars: Wars are proclaimed by a few, but fought in the name of all the peoples involved. It is up to the mass of people to resist and bring peace to the world.
First collaboration in 1985
The song All In Your Name was recorded in December 2002, shortly before the start of the second Iraq war: Bee Gees legend Barry Gibb and the King of Pop Michael Jackson met in the 1980s. There are pictures from that time that show both musicians together in the recording studio.
In 1985 Barry Gibb and Michael Jackson worked together for the first time: Michael’s longtime friend Diana Ross was looking for songs for a new album. The singer called Barry Gibb to ask him for help: The latter suggested her some songs, including Eaten Alive. Eaten Alive was composed by Barry Gibb and his brother Maurice Gibb. Michael Jackson listened to the demo of Eaten Alive and made some suggestions to complete the composition.
Michael wanted to stay out of the limelight before the release of his next album: For Diana, however, he was willing to make an exception. In Eaten Alive, Michael sang the background vocals and the end of the chorus. His distinctive voice gives the recording the typical Michael Jackson touch, here combined with the lead vocals of Diana Ross. It was the first published collaboration between Barry Gibb and Michael Jackson.
All In Your Name
All In Your Name was not released until 2011, nine years after it was written and two years after Michael’s death. Barry Gibb released the song along with a video showing both artists recording at Middle Ear Studios in Miami. The footage was captured on a Hi8 camera by Barry Gibb’s son Ashley Gibb:
How did it happen that both musicians met in 2002 at Middle Ear Studio in Miami Beach to record this song?
Michael’s campaign against Sony
A few months earlier, Sony, Michael Jackson’s record label, decided to stop promoting his album Invincible, released in October 2001. This prompted Michael Jackson to launch a public campaign against Sony. In the summer of 2002, the King of Pop appeared at various events in New York, where he exposed the injustices in the music industry. During his speeches, he spoke of his own experiences: However, he equally addressed the fate of other artists. For example, he addressed Otis Blackwell, who died in poverty in 2002. Blackwell was an African-American songwriter who wrote many Elvis Presley hits, including All Shook Up. He was only honored for them posthumously.
All In Your Name was written at the time of Michael Jackson’s rallies. Michael was going through a phase where he wanted to be creative – independent of a record company – and at the same time open the eyes of his followers worldwide.
The song itself bears traits of a protest song:
And where is the peace
We’re searching for
Under the shadows of war
Can we hold out, and stand up, and say no
To this Michael replies with the Chorus:
Only God knows
That it’s all in the game
It’s all in your name
Follow me to the gates of paradise
They’re the same
It’s all in your name
Listening to All In Your Name, one immediately notices the special harmony between the two singers: Barry Gibb’s falsetto voice is complemented by Michael’s high pitch. Michael’s high voice is a sign of frustration in this song, that the world is on the verge of a new catastrophe.
Barry Gibb himself said about the genesis of the song:
“Michael Jackson and I were the dearest of friends, that’s simply what it was. We gravitated towards the same kind of music and we loved collaborating and he was the easiest person to write with. The more we got to know each other the more those ideas entwined and it all came to this song ‘All In Your Name’. ‘All in Your Name’ is in fact the message that Michael wanted to send out to all of his fans all over the world that he did it all for them and for the pure love of music.“
Simon von Ludwig
Main sources: Lecoq, Richard: Michael Jackson – All The Songs, 2018 Hachette UK; Pade & Risi: Make That Change / Michael Jackson: Message and destiny of a spiritual revolutionary (2nd edition 2019, Govinda) & an article from the Guardian
Cover picture: Michael Jackson during the Dangerous tour in 1992 in Monza, Italy © Daniele Dalledonne, taken from Wikimedia Commons, use licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0