This afternoon I spent exactly ten minutes on the phone with Kenny Loggins. I was offered the interview as an opportunity to promote his appearance at the Verizon Arena in June (as part of “Night of the Proms”) and said “okay.” Our conversation is below.
What do you think of the term ‘yacht rock’?
My kids turned me onto that a long time ago, that’s been out there awhile. It doesn’t bother me at all, I’m glad there is a term. It’s interesting, because it was a period of time in music that was unique. We were influenced by jazz and r&b and were borrowing from that. I used the great New York jazz guys, people like David Sanborn. That era of jazz was blending into that era of pop, and I think that’s what ‘yacht rock’ is referring to, that sort of smooth sensibility.
And disco wasn’t an element in that, it was a completely separate thing that also grew out of r&b but in another direction. Something just emerged musically, because of the times. Stevie Wonder might have had a lot to do with pushing things in that direction, he was bringing in new chord progressions that were influencing a lot of writers. I grew up in folk music, it was all very new and fresh and exciting to me.
Have you ever owned a yacht?
I always liked your version of “What a Fool Believes” better.
Michael [McDonald] and I had a deal when we were writing together, which was that whoever got there first, won. “What a Fool Believes,” we were both recording at the same time. It’s lucky that I didn’t hear his version first, because I thought it was fantastic and I probably would borrowed more liberally from it had I heard it first. I didn’t really get the feel of the tune. It wasn’t really competitive – Michael had his thing and was focused on his direction and I was trying to play it the way it was in my head.
Tell me about working with Giorgio Moroder on “Danger Zone”?
He’s interesting. The only time I worked with him was on “Danger Zone.” He liked to work fast, and didn’t really delve into inventing new sounds or new ways of doing things. He would get an engineer who was smart and quick and would say ‘Make it sound good.” There was a Yamaha keyboard called the DX7 – it was new at the time and is now one of the classic keyboards — and he was the only one I knew who used all the stock sounds, and never tried to create anything new out of it. And he had huge hits, with all the stock sounds. We sat and messed with the chord substitutions, but it was pretty much what Giorgio wrote.
The U.S. Navy has called that music video “the most effective recruiting poster ever produced.”
I didn’t expect that. I mean it was a movie for Chrisssakes. Nobody thought of it as a recruiting tool. When I saw CNN was running scenes of us bombing Iraq using “Danger Zone” in the background I thought that was incredibly ironic.
I liked “Top Gun,” I think everybody – well not everybody, but everybody I knew liked the movie. It’s great how it’s held up all these years. It’s one of the most heavily rented movies out there.