Although initial listeners may have interpreted it as a song about a broken relationship, Gates revealed that it was written in memory of his father who died in 1963 before he achieved his success with Bread. According to the book 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, at his father's funeral, a friend took David Gates aside and said, "Your dad was so proud of what you were doing. " David agreed, "My success would have been so special to him as he was my greatest influence. So I decided to write and record 'Everything I Own' about him. If you listen to the words, 'You sheltered me from harm, kept me warm, you gave my life to me, set me free', it says it all. " As for the title, Gates said that he once sent his mother an orchid for her birthday at a time when he could barely afford it: "She was so touched – my dad wrote to tell me I could have had "anything she owned" in return. " Typically Gates wrote the lyrics after the music. Although the lyrics were written so it could be interpreted as a love song, Gates said: "When I played it for my wife, she knew right away that it was about my father. She cried. "