BOOK’S JOOK: Kenny Loggins’ “Whenever I Call You “Friend””

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

     photo KennyLoggins_45_zpsf15adcdc.jpg
    To say that I was musically raised by Kenny Loggins is putting it lightly. As one half of Loggins & Messina, he and Jim Messina introduced me to the world of live performances, as their show in Honolulu on the Native Sons tour was my first concert. My parents loved the albums Sittin’ In and Full Sail. Full beard? My dad had one, and thus Loggins was a bit of a father figure. When he said “I want to show you that peaceful feeling in my home” in “A Love Song”, I realized how much Loggins & Messina shaped my sense of what home could be, if not should be. On Stage was great, as the album cover was a facsimile of a concert ticket, along with the cover version album So Fine and the group’s last album as a band, Native Sons. While the world would celebrate Loggins through his soundtrack work in the 1980’s, I was a few years ahead of most, at least of people around my age.

    When Loggins went solo, I find myself enjoying his new work on the Celebrate Me Home album. He followed it up with the Nightwatch album, which I’d see at all the record and department stores I visited with my parents but for some reason we stayed away from it. However, the first single from the album was purchased, and this was a song I liked a lot. “Whenever I Call You “Friend”” was interesting in a few ways, for the song was co-written with Melissa Manchester, whose album on Arista Records was also a big part of my listening habits as a kid, as my auntie loved her and her songs. Yet the lady in the song was definitely not Manchester. I recognized the voice as that of one of the ladies on the Rumours album, and back then, who didn’t have Rumours? It was Stevie Nicks, and yet she was not credited on the label, which I thought was odd. She may not have been Loggins’ Kiki Dee, but at least Kiki Dee got a co-credit for “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”.

    What I liked about “Whenever I Call You “Friend”” was how the song seemed to go through a few movements, if not actual moods. The best part of the song was the intro before the actual lyrics are sung, it appears that Loggins is telling his singers to prepare for the start of the song, a bit of studio dialogue. The song then starts, Loggins reaches his high falsetto, and then there’s another voice which sounds like someone is stepping close to the mic, repeating a word, and then walking away from it with assistance from reverb. I found this to be fascinating and I had wished that part of the song was the entire song, if Loggins could do it for the four minute duration, it would be a much better song. Eventually, Loggins begins to sing and the song sounds like a ballad, all before Nicks comes in with her harmonies. His background singers come in to say “forever and ever” and now the song is in disco mood, or at least it sounds like the rhythm has a bit of a disco swagger. This leads to a complimentary saxophone solo. The chorus was interesting to me as a seven year old:
    Sweet love’s showin’ us a heavenly light
    I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight
    See love glowing on us every night
    I know forever we’ll be doing it

    What are they doing and when they speak of doing it, what’s “it”? Well, even at that age, it was something not to be talked about and in truth, I knew nothing about the act of “it” but it seemed Loggins and Nicks were going to be doing “it” forever. Wow. The next favorite part of the song is the end when they start to share their “sweet love” and how they’re ad-libbing their way until the song fades. It just sounded like a song of courage, especially the line “now I know my life has given me more than memories/day by day, we can see/in every moment there’s a reason to carry on”. It was a very nice song, not exactly “Vahevala”, “Watching The River Run”, or “Peacemaker” for Loggins but with that aforementioned disco swagger, it was very much of the times and it sounded good. I’d play the 45 many times over, always emphasizing on the intro. As for the B-side, I never liked “Angelique”, at least not back then but it was the hit that mattered most.

    The song is also notable for being produced by Bob James, whom I didn’t know of at age 7, even though I knew of his theme to Taxi. James meant nothing to me then, but would become important as I explored hip-hop and with that, looking into other jazz besides what my dad loved, which lead to finding out about the CTI label, which of course lead to knowing who James is.

    At the end of 1978, Loggins found himself on the radio backing up The Doobie Brothers in the great “What A Foo Believes”, that falsetto vocal from Loggins could not be mistaken. A year later, Loggins would come out with “Keep The Fire” and “This Is It”, the latter featuring vocals from Michael McDonald. Loggins had always been music I heard on my dad’s Sony phonograph, and now he was getting some significant radio time. By 1980, once he released “I’m Alright” (for the film Caddyshack), Loggins would enter a new phase and yet he would keep to his old tricks by keeping the studio “errors” in his songs, specifically the bridge and the doo wop part when Loggins says “I’m” before the proper cue. He would pull this off again with “Footloose”, where the intro has a guide vocal that seems out of place but to me, this was Loggins, he knew what he was doing, and forever he would be doing it, doing it, doing it, and in a rightful manner.

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