All I Need Is You Song Story

Featuring Dan Adler Posted on July 17, 2012

Before Sandy and I founded Heart of the City Ministries in 1996, I was the Music Minister at the Church of the Open Door for 11 years – which now is located in Maple Grove, Minnesota but then met at Cooper High School, in New Hope, Minnesota and later Robbinsdale High School in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Our church grew quickly from about 350 people when I started there in 1985 to about 5000 by 1990. So we had three services a weekend to accommodate the growth. Our pastor, Dave Johnson, was an expository preacher and he would preach, verse by verse, all the way through a book of the Bible. The worship team and I would typically lead worship during the first half of the service and then I would listen to the sermon and usually close the sermon with a song at the end. I always wanted to choose a song that added to the sermon instead of just a ditty to randomly close the service with. So one Sunday, I was backstage listening to the sermon and I didn’t have a song that seemed to fit. But I started to get an idea for a song that was very simple that would fit well with what was being said. So I sat there and started quickly scratching out the lyrics on a scrap piece of paper I found lying around. The song seemed so simple and familiar that I wondered if I should even sing it because I was just sure that I must be stealing someone else’s melody – but I just couldn’t think of whose it was. So I just decided to go ahead with it – since it was just a closing song – and when I figured out whose song it was I was stealing, I’d just never sing it again. Thus, “All I Need is You” was born. But come to find out, it’s actually an original song that the Lord just blessed me with in those few minutes and I didn’t steal it from anyone after all.

Though I write in a big variety of musical styles, I tend to write lyrics more like a hymn writer – trying to put a lot of depth of thought and theology into them and I also tend to be a bit complex musically. This song is the simplest song both lyrically and melodically that I’ve ever written. Ironically, it’s also the song that has been the most sung by other churches around the country and some places in the world of all of my songs. I’ve heard of people going on missions trips and hearing it sung in Haiti and in Ireland. Maybe it’s because it is just so simple and easy to learn and sing and just sums up such a universal heart-cry of believer’s dependence on the Lord.

We recorded it first on our series of CD’s at Church of the Open Door called “Songs from the Open Door”. But then we re-recorded it on our second Heart of the City CD entitled “With One Voice” in English, Hmong and Spanish. I love this version of the song because we were able to give it such a beautiful soulful sound with Kenny Passmore’s amazing vocals to start it and end it, but then it makes such a global statement as it’s sung in Hmong by Kangza Kong and in Spanish by Eunice Bravo and then in English by all of us. Kangza and Eunice are no longer with the band, but you’ll still hear Kenny sing it live sometimes and now the Hmong is sung by either Jake Thao or Kangza’s brother, Levee Kong and the Spanish is sung either by Patty Aguayo or Ed Adorno.

The challenge remains, with a song like this, to live it out. Do I live like all I need and want is Jesus? Do I put my only hope in Him or in my financial security, career, family, reputation or some other thing? I want to be like Paul who said, “To live is Christ. To die is gain.” That’s what “All I Need is You” is about.