The success of singles “Footloose” and “Danger Zone” brought singer, guitarist, and prolific songwriter Kenny Loggins to my attention in the late 80s. The first time I saw him–with a full beard and goatee–I thought that his rugged, almost wolfish image would have been more likely to make him a hillbilly rocker or country artist than a soft rock musician.
I did not know that many of his songs were scored specifically for motion pictures like Caddyshack, Over the Top, and Top Gun, solidified his status as a hitmaker, and earned him the title of “King of the Movie Soundtrack.” I also did not know that he was one half of the 70s Loggins and Messina folk/pop music duo that penned the hit “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” Or that he had collaborated with names like Stevie Nicks, Melissa Manchester, the Doobie Brothers, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
No, Kenny Loggins was (and still is) a good looking guy with a great set of chops, and an undeniable knack of performing and/or crafting songs that capture the right mood–whether it is his uninhibited signature piece “Footloose”, the adrenaline pumping “Danger Zone”, the heartbreaking lovestory-that-never-was with “What a Fool Believes”, the social conscience-stirring, environmental message of “Conviction of the Heart”, or the more introspective, nostalgic pieces like “Celebrate Me Home” and “For the First Time.” The songs that he does well are often the ones he draws from, and imbues with, the most precious moments of life: “Danny’s Song” (later covered by Anne Murray), was written by Loggins as a tribute to his brother Danny’s newborn son.
Power ballads “Meet Me Halfway” and “Forever” vie as my personal Loggins favourites. The wistful and heartfelt “Return to Pooh Corner” make me look back on childhood with fondness and frustration, a time that can be equal parts enjoyment, promise, and unrealistic expectations. The engaging “Whenever I Call You Friend” duet (co-written with Melissa Manchester), but sung with Stevie Nicks, is another personal favourite; one that speaks of a significant other as one’s best friend.
Loggins’ Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: the Greatest Hits of Kenny Loggins album ranks among my favourite songs of the 1990s. His journey is a testament to his versatility in folk, soft rock/pop, jazz and these days, even country as a regular member of the touring Blue Sky Riders. His staying power in the industry has encompassed almost 50 years, but the songs of great hitmakers are always timeless.
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