We sat down with Kenny Loggins before his recent performance at Encore Theater. See what the legend had to say about everything from Tom Cruise and Top Gun to his life as one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time.
Q: Right out of the chute, we have to mention Top Gun. The song on everyone’s lips right now, "Danger Zone." With a whole new generation, some 35 years later, rushing to see the movie and listening to that theme song that has become synonymous with the franchise, how has that experience been for you?
A: "I knew that there would be some heat generated by the remaking of Top Gun or I should say by the making of the new Maverick, but I didn’t expect it to be like this. It’s been a major roller coaster ride to go back up to the top of Tom Cruise’s movie, his pet project, has been really exciting. I’m suspicious of how fame goes up and down like that so I’m way less caught up in the craziness of it than I would’ve been 30 years ago. But it’s really fun. It’s fun to see it happen and it’s amazing to be associated with Tom and the way he works. I talked to him on the set when they were making it and I said, ‘How’s it going, what’re you up to?’ and he said, ‘I’m making movies!’ he’s such a kid, he loves to do that."
Q: We heard that Tom Cruise was very adamant that your song would be part of the new Top Gun.
A: “He really was. I met him when I did Jimmy Kimmel about six years ago and he was starting on it back then and I said, 'I know you’re doing the new Top Gun. Is 'Danger Zone' going to be in it?’ and he said, 'Are you kidding? It wouldn’t be Top Gun without 'Danger Zone,' and he stayed true to his word. I think that’s incredible to get to tag along on this new success of Maverick.”
Q: Of all your songs,—and we know this might be like asking a parent who their favorite child is—but are there one or two that stand out for you as favorites?
A: “I think 'Conviction of the Heart' is still one of my top songs of my life. 'Conviction of the Heart' is very much a song of metamorphosis, a song of growing and changing and when I’m singing it to an audience that knows it and gets the meaning of the song, there’s an energy that happens in the room that’s unique to that song.”
Q: You’ve toured consistently throughout your career—this past decade being no exception. Tonight you’re performing at Encore Theater. It’s an intimate venue. How does a setting like that impact your performance and the time you spend with an audience?
A: “This theater is perfect for what I’m doing right now. I always try to have an intimate setting for a show and this is a great theater for that. But in particular, this is a book show, which means I’m incorporating interview into the show. I have a fellow named Adam Reader who sits beside me and does the interview from his point of view. He has a show on YouTube that has a million-and-half followers called 'The Professor of Rock' and he dives deep, into the '80s, and so he’ll ask me questions and I’ll give the answers. If the answer moves into a song, I have my band with me—and he’ll get up—and I’ll perform the song. It’s a very intimate evening. The only thing that would be a step more would be to do the whole show as Q & A … but that could get out of hand."
Q: In terms of your career that has spanned five decades, you’ve lived through some really interesting eras. What was your favorite touring era and what was your favorite recording era?
A: “Well, that requires having a memory! (laughs). I think that the '80s for me was both my favorite touring era and my favorite recording era. I felt that throughout the '80s and even into the '90s when I made Leap of Faith, the music was coming in waves that were different than the ordinary and so this was for me a very creative, fertile time. I think that’s why it’s my favorite.”
Q: What about Hair Era? You’ve always had the most fabulous hair!
A: (Laughs) “My haircut in the '70s was created by an up and coming stylist at Vidal Sassoon. Up to that point, I just had hippie hair that was just long and he said, ‘Well, let me try this, let me try that,’ and next thing I know, I’ve got a haircut that everybody’s imitating, but I hadn’t intended it. In the '80s there was sort the evolution of my '70s haircut into something a little shorter and more tamed and the beard got shorter and shorter. Times change and our looks always change with them.”
Q: Best Kenny Loggins song to listen to:
To chill out
To make out
To rock out
A: "To chill out, that would be a song called, 'Love Will Follow,' to make out would be a song called 'Love Will Follow,' and to rock out is probably either 'Danger Zone' or 'Footloose.'"
Q: Which of your song titles or album names would you say best describes your life just right off the top of your head?
A: (laughs) “You know what popped into my head was Vox Humana which has no meaning at all unless you speak Latin. (Note: Vox Humana, which means ‘human voice,’ was released in 1985 and was Loggins' fifth studio album) I think at this point in my life, 'Celebrate Me Home.' I think that I’ve taken the long road home so what pops into my head right now is 'Celebrate Me Home.''
Q: And finally, a quick shout out on your new book that just dropped in June entitled, Still Alright. What can readers expect from this memoir?
A: “Well, what I’m finding out from the people who are doing the reviews and the interviews is that it’s extremely intimate and a vulnerable retelling of my life story. I try to connect every story to some aspect of my music and why I wrote it and what I wrote. If you have a personal connection to any one of my songs it’s probably in the book so readers can expect to get a deeper telling and a deeper understanding of where that song came from.”
We ended the interview with our thanks to Kenny Loggins for being at Encore Theater and for his time with us.
Loggins performed to a packed house that night, his "Vox Humana" ringing out clear with the songs that are today as familiar, as fun, as meaningful and as beloved as they have ever been.