Can a single be so majestic and yet be so tragic at the same time? Well, DeBarges’ masterwork of “All This Love/I’m In Love with You” is both. This was released as the second single off the similarly titled album. This song took me a while to figure out. I remember listening to it as a kid and just being mesmerized by the song. At first I thought it was a tender love song, a love fulfilled, but the more I would encounter it, the more I realized its actually of a love unfulfilled. It has so many glorious inferences that the most important part is forgotten when most people listen to this track.
This track was originally written by El DeBarge for his idol Marvin Gaye, in 1982, to record. This all happened two years before Marvin’s untimely death. Imagine finally working with your idol, creating perhaps your best work in homage to him, and then your idol soundly rejecting it? Well, that’s what happened here. Being of fragile character, El decided to put it in a DeBarge record and tweak it enough to change its original intent.
Listen to the vocals, for once he adopts a range thats closer to Diana Ross or Tammi Terrell than it is to Marvin. Vocals that grow increasingly more and more pining in their inflection. He was putting himself in the role of Marvin’s rejected loves. The main melody is played on electric piano by El, that melody and the chorus that goes with it owes a lot to Bill Wither’s (a direct competitor of Marvin’s) similarly longing “Let Me Be the One You Need”…a song that puts Bill Withers as the supplicant asking for the person rejecting him to find a way to love him. Finally, that memorable final bridge (that starts around the 5 min mark) sung by El and all the DeBarges infers a lot from Marvin’s “I Want You”. In its own way saying this is what you told me before, and now why can’t you follow through. Writ large, just all the thought that went into this track is astounding. Heck, even Jose Feliciano’s incredibly touching guitar work adds to the overall feel of yearning going through this song.
I still think that El, when he originally wrote this song, had a sincere belief the Master would eventually cover this track. It wasn’t until a year or so later that Marvin would be gone and this inquiring track left dramatically unanswered. Just knowing now that something was going to occur like that is still is quite heartbreaking. However, rightfully so, this track remains a great testament to one of R&B’s greats. Just a bit more DeBarge tomorrow.