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Kenny Loggins on creating legendary soundtrack anthems for “Top Gun,” “Caddyshack” and “Footloose”

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Award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist Kenny Loggins joined host Kenneth Womack to discuss the magic of the Beatles and making movie music on  “Everything Fab Four,” a podcast co-produced by me and Womack (a music scholar who also writes about pop music for Salon) and distributed by Salon.

Loggins, one half of the 1970s duo Loggins and Messina before going solo and becoming known as the “soundtrack king” and the “messiah” of the Yacht Rock genre, first learned about popular music as a child from his older brother, who had a large record collection. But it was his mother who tipped him off that a new group called the Beatles were going to be on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February of 1964. Newly 16 at the time, Loggins had been casually taking guitar lessons to learn to play folk-style tunes, and then “everything changed.”

As he tells Womack, seeing the Beatles made him realize, “Oh, this is what I want to do…Some kind of strange magic was happening. You could feel the electricity, and yet you could also picture yourself playing in a band like that. It seemed do-able.” He was soon stealing the guitar from his brother’s wall, playing until his fingers bled (“the definition of passion”), singing from a Beatles songbook, and starting to write music of his own.

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That music would later include the megahits “Footloose,” “Danger Zone,” and “I’m Alright” — which Womack confesses to having thought was a new Paul McCartney single upon first hearing the song in 1980. “Flattered,” Loggins says he has definitely been influenced by the Lennon-McCartney catalog when it comes to chord changes and lyrical turns of phrase. He’s also collaborated with many prolific artists including Barbra Streisand, Michael McDonald and Stevie Nicks, and likens writing songs for soundtracks to collaborations: “In a perfect world, the song should enhance the scene. But the power of the movie enhances the power of the song, and vice versa. That’s storytelling at its finest.”

Now 75, Loggins has published a memoir (“Still Alright,” 2022), is a generous charity donor and is heading out on his final tour (which he’s titled “This Is It,” appropriately enough). He says that as an artist, it’s important not to think of yourself as having “made it” or “arrived.” Describing himself as “determined,” he says that – not unlike McCartney – he still constantly strives to collaborate, improve and learn. “It’s all part of the journey.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Kenny Loggins on “Everything Fab Four,” including the true story behind his bestselling children’s album “Return to Pooh Corner,” and subscribe via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, or wherever you’re listening.

“Everything Fab Four” is distributed by Salon. Host Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography on Beatles producer George Martin and the bestselling books “Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles” and “John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life.” His latest project is the authorized biography and archives of Beatles road manager Mal Evans, due out in November 2023.

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