For Kenny Logginswriting his memoir was “a cross between therapy and deposition.”
The book, out this month, challenged him to remember anecdotes about his excessively fertile music career: As a folk-pop troubadour with Jim Messina in the ’70s, undeniable czar of movie soundtracks in the ’80s, thoughtful environmentalist in the ’90s and yacht-rock hero of the current day.
But “Still Alright” (Hachette, 304 pp), co-written with Jason Turbow, isn’t just a musical chronicle of the guy as famous for “Footloose” as he is “Danny’s Song” and the everlasting “House at Pooh Corner.”
Tales of drug use and salty language throughout are the inverse of Loggins’ image of the blazer-sporting adult contemporary soft-rocker. He jokes to USA TODAY that he hoped to splatter that impression with sardonic appearances on the animated TV series “Archer” and “Family Guy” over the past decade.
To promote the book, which he started writing in late 2020, Loggins will pop into a few West Coast book stores this month for signings. And on July 15-16, he’ll play the Hollywood Bowl with Messina for the duo’s 50th anniversary, which Loggins confirms will be the last time they play together.
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“It’s hard to believe from where I’m sitting – how did I get this old?” Loggins, 74, asks rhetorically. “It happens so fast when you’re looking back.”
In a recent interview, the musician candidly expounded on some of the topics in his book – Michael McDonald, “Top Gun” – and explained his philosophy for a great memoir:
Question: So that “Top Gun” sequel seems to be popular. What’s your reaction to the renewed interest in “Danger Zone”?
Kenny Loggins: The word dumbfounded is appropriate. We knew something big was going to happen (with the new movie), but it’s just way huger than any of us imagined. When Tom (Cruise) told me he wanted to use the song (in the sequel), I was skeptical at first because he’s a sweet guy who is generous with everyone, so I thought it might just be him being nice. But he genuinely meant it, and said “‘Top Gun’ wouldn’t be ‘Top Gun’ without ‘Danger Zone.”‘
Q: Are you feeling content about the memoir, now that it’s out?
Logins: I was very careful to tell the truth, but in a way that people wouldn’t be mad at me. I didn’t want Jimmy (Messina) going, ‘(expletive) you,’ and my ex-wives, I let them both read their chapters before submitting (it).
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Q: In the afterword, you note that you really didn’t want to write that part of the book because it felt like something was ending.
Logins: I feel like I’ve turned a page and am ready to step into more activity, creatively. Like a lot of people, 2020 knocked the wind out of my sails with nowhere to go, no audience. (My girlfriend) Lisa (Hawkins) and I would ride e-bikes, and my quest was to find different doughnut shops. I gained the COVID 10 (pounds)! I stopped moving in a creative direction, and I felt the difference emotionally and mentally. I need to write a little bit at least once a week. Something happens to the brain when you’re in a creative space and without it, I feel melancholy.
Q: You write a lot in the book about your partnership with Michael McDonald. What is your relationship like now?
Logins: We’re still great friends and appreciate the history we created, and he’s OK with the yacht-rock thing. We did a show at the Hollywood Bowl (in 2018) and there were a lot of yachting caps in the audience, and that’s fine. It sort of defined the stuff we were doing in a way that was appreciated.
Q: Do you feel like Michael was – and maybe still is – your musical soulmate?
Logins: I think in some ways, yeah, I would give you that one. It might be a little overly dramatic, but we are definitely (simpatico) musically. Every time we get together, we write something musically neither would have done alone. I can’t explain it, but I think we didn’t really exploit our opportunities in the ’80s. I wish we would have written 100 songs and let 80 of them suck. When there’s chemistry there, don’t waste it.
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Q: Fans will be interested to learn that “This Is It” was born from a conversation you had with your father before he underwent surgery.
Logins: Michael and I initially thought ‘This Is It’ was just a love song. But that muse, the bridge between Michael and Kenny, is the third entity in the room, and that entity insisted that the song be about more. Once I had that conversation with my dad and brought the ‘You have a choice about how this will go’ line to Michael, it just fell out of us.
Q: Did anything frustrate you while writing the book?
Logins: I rewrote a lot of what Jason got from interviewing me. I’d tell him, you’re using appropriate grammar and I don’t talk like that! I’ve read Mary Karr’s book (“The Art of Memoir”) and you really get the idea that the voice has to be unique and that the stories have to lay out the way I would tell my friends at a dinner party. That’s how Jason and I really worked together well – he’d lay the stories out and I put in my own exclamations and admissions… I just finished my audiobook two weeks ago, and it was harder than I expected. I would go to the iPad and color different words for degrees of inflection. You tend to go into autopilot and then you’re not sounding like the person at the dinner party.
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