Montecito singer Kenny Loggins talks about his life as Lobero presents him in virtual concert
It’s virtually impossible to hear the song “Danger Zone” without imagining F-14A Tomcats racing through the sky.
Montecito singer Kenny Loggins’ rendition of the rock classic is forever matched with the classic scene from “Top Gun” (1986).
“He (the ‘Danger Zone’ co-writer) wrote that melody specifically for that scene,” Mr. Loggins told the News-Press. “I think it was just the perfect marriage of melody and music with that visual moment. That’s why these songs last so long: The visuals and the music fit together really well.”
Mr. Loggins has seen the power of music not only in films but as a healing force during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think that it’s the same whether it’s times like this or any difficult time, going through the change of a job or a divorce or a loss of some kind or just a big transition,” he said. “You need a cheerleading song.
“Music creates the soundtrack of our lives,” said the singer known for his songs in movies and elsewhere.
Mr. Loggins is presenting the soundtrack of his life during a re-release of a Lobero Theatre concert that was recorded on the historic Santa Barbara theater’s stage.
The unplugged performance consists of Mr. Loggins singing “Footloose,” “Celebrate Me Home,” “House on Pooh Corner,” “Danny’s Song” and other hits with fellow guitarist Tariqh Akoni and bassist Rick Cowling. (Mr. Loggins said he decided against performing “Danger Zone” in an acoustic concert.)
The concert is available to view at lobero.org today through Sunday.
To be COVID-safe, Mr. Loggins and his fellow musicians performed seven or eight feet apart from each other on the Lobero stage.
There was no audience.
“It feels strange,” he said. “But I’ve done eight or nine virtual performances. I’m much more used to it.”
Mr. Loggins noted he missed hearing the audience sing with him.
“The part I miss the most of playing alone on any stage, meaning without an audience, is the singalong part,” said the Everett, Wash., native, who grew up in Seattle and Southern California and moved to Santa Barbara in 1973.
“In ‘Celebrate Me Home,’ there’s always a singalong part. In ‘Footloose,’ there’s always a singalong part,” Mr. Loggins said. “Even the chorus of ‘Danger Zone’ is a singalong.
“The other part is if you tell a joke or say something off the cuff, you’re not going to get any response,” Mr. Loggins said. “That’s always uncomfortable. I don’t know if you’ve been at a party and told a story and no one responds. It’s when everybody starts coughing.”
Mr. Loggins said he is glad to perform on the stage and help the Lobero, which like other theaters across the U.S. is suffering because of the lack of concerts during the pandemic.
In fact, the Lobero has lost more than $1 million.
Mr. Loggins said virtual concerts such as his are a way of supporting theaters at a difficult time.
As he discussed the Lobero show, Mr. Loggins talked about “Footloose.” He credited its success to the 1984 movie of the same name. The film starred Kevin Bacon in a town that outlawed dancing.
“It was the combination of the visual and emotional connection that people made to that movie,” Mr. Loggins said. “It’s really a story about personal freedom. Sometimes reviewers will call it a dance movie or a rock movie, but it’s really about freedom.
“I think that’s why it connects with people emotionally and sustains the vibe of the song,” he said.
Another of his timeless hits is “This is It.” Mr. Loggins, who co-wrote it with Santa Barbara rocker Michael McDonald, said the song has endured likely because of its “emotional life-and-death concept.”
Mr. Loggins explained how the director’s cut of “Caddyshack” (1980) inspired his song “I’m Alright” for the film.
Mr. Loggins said the temporary placement of a Bob Dylan song influenced him as he thought about the character in the opening scene. “I got the idea he needed to be somewhat angry and rebellious. The idea of a ‘nobody worry about me, leave me alone’-type of song jumped out at me. That’s where the song came from.”
The singer also talked about his love for creating children’s music, which included his song “House on Pooh Corner.”
“I got incredibly lucky that I was allowed to hook that star onto Winnie the Pooh,” Mr. Loggins said. “He’s such a lovable character that children, and families connect to the Winnie the Pooh part of it.”
Mr. Loggins remains involved in children’s music. He recently recorded the theme song for a San Diego Zoo program for closed circuit TV stations at children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald houses across the country.
“It’s called ‘Zoo TV,’ and it has to do with animals, of course,” Mr. Loggins said. “It’s for when children are stuck in hospital rooms for extended amounts of time, and they love watching animals being taken care of.”
Mr. Loggins collaborated on the song with Lisa Harrington and Josh Bartholomew. They’re the writers, performers and producers of “Everything is Awesome,” the Oscar-winning song in “The Lego Movie” (2014).
Mr. Loggins said he is also involved with “Top Gun: Maverick,” the long-awaited sequel, starring original “Top Gun” actor Tom Cruise and set for a release sometime next year.
“I am involved a little bit. We’ll see how much when the movie finally comes out,” Mr. Loggins said. “I have a reprise of something, but they’ll kill me if I tell you what.”
When told his songs can get stuck in your head, Mr. Loggins laughed. When asked later about the impact his music has on people, Mr. Loggins said, “I hope it brings comfort to those who need it. I would want it to be inspiring when people need to take action.”
Mr. Loggins noted listeners have adopted “Celebrate Me Home” as a homecoming song for Christmas.
“It’s going to be a bittersweet this year, especially for those people who can’t go home because of COVID and those of us who are the home and not able to have our kids,” said Mr. Loggins, the father of five children (from two marriages).
But the musician said his life is going well. After having to live in rental housing in the area, he moved back in May to his Montecito house after a bridge for access was rebuilt.
“It took two and a half years to rebuild the bridge,” Mr. Loggins said, referring to the damage from the 2018 Montecito debris flow. “Luckily my house was spared. My garage was messed up; my yard was destroyed. We did a lot of landscape work and rebuilt the garage.”
Glad to be back in his home, Mr. Loggins said he’s happy in his relationship with his girlfriend, although he hasn’t popped the question.
“Don’t push me!” Mr. Loggins said, laughing. He good-naturedly explained he’s not rushing to get married a third time.
But Mr. Loggins said their relationship has been strengthened by the pandemic.
“I’m just lucky I’m with the woman I love because I know it’s been hard on many people’s relationships,” Mr. Loggins said. “It’s made some, it’s broken some.
“Thankfully, it’s making the one I’m in. We’ve been together for over three and a half years,” he said. “It’s still relatively new. A test like this (the pandemic) could be difficult, but it strengthened our relationship. It forces you to be together and work things out and communicate.
“And because of that, we just keep getting stronger. What underlies the message of the pandemic is connection.
“My family and I will work especially hard to stay connected during this time.”