4Qs with Kenny Loggins
Montecito’s singer-songwriter hero is logging his time during the pandemic.
Kenny Loggins is staying at home during the shelter-in-place era as the COVID-19 pandemic stopped everything in its tracks. Actually, make that homes. The 72-year-old singer-songwriter, who began scoring hits back in the early 1970s in a duo with Jim Messina, found fertile ground with fans as a solo artist and then enjoyed even bigger success as a soundtrack specialist in the 1980s and 1990s, is shuttling between his Montecito retreat that he was forced to evacuate in the 2018 mudslide and debris flow when the access bridge was washed away, his rental home on the Mesa and his girlfriend’s place in Goleta. All while maintaining a “closed loop” of his extended family to keep everyone safe.
We caught up with him recently on a sojourn from one place to another – “I’m staying at homes, plural,” he told us – to see what’s new and whether the coronavirus crisis is conjuring up his creative juices.
Q. How are you coping with what’s being called “the new reality”? Are you feeling forced into slowing down?
A. Man, I am not good at slowing down. But there’s plenty of projects that need to keep moving forward. I’ve been dealing with a terrestrial radio station about a syndicated show that I would host. And I also started working on my memoirs a couple of months ago. This is a good time for that. It’s tricky going. My plan is to interview a lot of people – the working title is In Search of My Memories because there are so many things that I don’t remember. But I’m hoping that by interviewing my friends who were there – the players and the crew, guys and other people from the past, everyone from (fellow former Montecito resident and 1970s super-duo partner Jimmy) Messina on through, I’ll end up with some great memories and stories and also catch up with old friends I haven’t seen in a long time.
I’m also mixing music I was recording with Jake Shimabukuro (the famed ukulele wizard), which started just before the pandemic. Jake is doing an album with other artists; Michael McDonald was doing a cut and you know wherever Michael goes I go. I did a song I co-wrote with Gary (Burr) and Georgia (Middleman) from (his country trio) Blue Sky Riders “Why Not.” I continued on at first with Dom Camardella at Sound Design, but when things got harrier I began doing a rough mix with an engineer over the internet. So I guess I’m not really slowing down.
Can you say more about the radio show? That seems like it would be fun.
I was approached to do something like the show Alice Cooper has been doing for 10 years. They contacted me to do one of my own, so I created a mockup, which they’ve been shopping around and we’re getting really strong responses. Finishing up signing up the syndicated stations and we’ll start putting it together. The format is basically whatever I want it to be. I’m going to throw in some interviews to maybe map out my book at the same time and we’ll see where it goes from there. Every station has their own format, so I can do some generic intros, songs that I know. Basically it’s an ‘80s show, because that’s my audience they’re after. I’ll play music, and every now and then talk about the songs. It shouldn’t be too tough.
How are you practicing your art in quarantine? Have any songs come from the technological issues, or are you contemplating any live shows?
We just started talking about a multiple pay-per-view broadcast, more of an acoustic living room thing. Corporations are signing up for that, live performances over Zoom as we all have to go to Plan B. The next thing I want to do is reach out to a couple of songwriters with whom I have collaborated before and see if we can’t get together over Skype. I’ve written over the phone, so why not? In the right state of mind, it’s not insurmountable.
Any new songs emerging from sheltering in place?
It’s new territory for me as it is for everyone. I’m looking to find the emotional center of it. There’s that place where we’re all vibrating really fast on a survival level, and the one underneath that has to do with connection and support for each other. I think that’s where the song is hiding.