|The Bee Gees with Michael Jackson in the mid 80s.|
Well, it is finally here in its entirety. All In Your Name, a nearly 10 year old duet between Barry Gibb and Michael Jackson is now complete and presented to the world on the second anniversary of Michael’s death. Barry had fed fans a couple of 30 second tasters with footage shot by son Ashley, but the word was always that the song still needed its finishing touches. Now, for all Bee Gees and Michael Jackson fans, the full length song is available for purchase on Barry’s website barrygibb.com.
Knowledge of the song’s existence has been around almost as long as the song itself and I have blogged about it twice before. Initially the focus of the lyrics was said to be a protest about the then upcoming war in Iraq, though Barry describes it as more of a love song to Michael’s fans. While it is a duet, Barry handles the verses and the pre-chorus with Michael just on the chorus. It is a powerful ballad with some spiritual imagery, reminding me of what the late Billboard magazine editor Timothy White used to say about the Bee Gees. White was a huge fan of the Gibbs and it was his belief that many Bee Gees songs had a spiritual subtext which was more implicit than explicit, but that this presence was a large part of their appeal.
Thinking through the Gibb back catalogue, the most explicit reference to God I can think of is in the sublime adult / contemporary ballad Nothing Could Be Good from the Living Eyes album (1981). The song is a love song from a man to a woman, but is minus the famous Bee Gees harmonies except for one part of the song: “And when everyone has gone away / sing to the Almighty / if it’s what you need to do / love what is true.”
In fact, it is only on “sing to the Almighty / if it’s what you need to do,” that the heavenly harmonies are present and they pack all the more punch as a result. All In Your Name is not a ballad full of those harmonies, but it shows the compassion so often at the forefront of Barry’s writing and of course, the genuine friendship he and Michael shared.