Kenny Loggins and The Evolution of a Song

Kenny Loggins has called Tahoe home more than once. In fact, he lived in Truckee in parts of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Dec. 30 | 8 p.m.
Reno Ballroom | Reno, Nev.

“I like the small-town feeling to it,” says the beloved singer/songwriter who came of age in 1960s Southern California. “I love Truckee in the springtime when I can ride my mountain bike around in the wildflowers.”

It’s a poetic description of our region by an artist who has contributed to the popular American songbook and has written several tunes you’re likely to hear at a musical gathering or sing-along.

Although he may have reached the peak of his success when he penned 1980s soundtrack hits such as “I’m Alright,” the theme from “Caddyshack;” “Footloose” from the movie of the same name, and performed “Danger Zone” from “Top Gun,” Loggins’ best-loved and most-covered work would probably be “Danny’s Song” from the Loggins and Messina 1972 album “Sittin’ In.”

“The thing about that song was I wrote it when I was a senior in high school,” he says. “I was in a very innocent place and wanted to write something about my brother, Danny, with his new wife, Sheila. They started their new family and they had a baby boy. I think the lyrics captured the spirit of a letter he wrote to me at that time. I think it’s the innocence of the song, the love for my brother and lack of complications that always stand out.”

The simplicity of the line — ‘And even though we ain’t got money, I’m still in love with you, honey’— is one that people from all walks of life know and understand.

“It’s sort of become a traditional song,” says Loggins. “When you’re sitting around that campfire someone will eventually play it.”

Nowadays, that son, Colin, is grown up and a father himself. Loggins’ children have grown up, too.

“My oldest boy [singer/songwriter Crosby Loggins] is 38 and he had my first granddaughter,” he says. “So about six months ago, I wrote a new verse to ‘Danny’s Song’ from the point of view of becoming a grandfather.”

When asked to share a preview of the latest lines, Loggins draws a momentary blank and wanders around his house for a few minutes trying to figure out how to remember the melody without happening to have a guitar at hand.

Eventually, I sing him a little bit of the first verse and he gets the tune back into his head.

“I got it now!” he says. “ It’s: ‘Now I know what I’ve been told is really true, my friend. The circle never ends. Gonna catch it coming around again.’”

Other than adding sage flourishes to longtime favorites, Loggins hasn’t been writing too many new songs lately. Rather, he’s been focused on mentoring younger songwriters.

Earlier this year, Loggins attended the Hawai’i Songwriting Festival where he worked with different groups of eight or nine writers each day to help them hone their voice and craft.

“I’ve moved into that season of my life where it’s more comfortable and appropriate to work with younger artists unless there is something I really feel I need to say on my own,” he says. “I really enjoy working with young people and guiding their process. We’re more inclined to believe the things we write down. I’m helping them to write in a particular way and define what they think that is. You know, if you did this, or that, you might get another angle on it?”

In concert, Loggins is known for his warm, engaging demeanor and penchant for humorous, relatable storytelling.

“I like to tell the stories of how the songs came into being,” he says. “Usually it’s very intimate, the storytelling behind the music. People know my music and have sort of grown up with it. So there’s a connection to me and to the music that I really appreciate and enjoy. Plus, it’s almost New Year’s so there’s always a good vibe to that, too.” |