I Know Forever Well Be Doing It: Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’

Song: Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’ (1978)

Artist: Kenny Loggins with Stevie Nicks

Album: Nightwatch (Columbia)

Although Kenny Loggins might be known as a movie soundtrack staple, and best remembered for Danny’s Song, even if fans of the song don’t quite realize its Kenny Loggins. However, Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’ was his first big solo hit, a duet with the great Stevie Nicks. With jazz horns (evidenced throughout the album) and an unmistakable disco beat in the fast parts, and a sax-solo, it cemented Loggins as an artist that could be not only a hit-maker, but a superstar. Although many will recognize the title line “Whenever I call You Friend” even more recognizable is the “slightly” adult “I know forever we’ll be doing it.”

Many people do not realize that Kenny Loggins was not always the king of the movie soundtrack. In fact, he was an important fixture in the music of the 1970s, especially as part of the duo Loggins and Messina.

The date above does not really indicate the first time that Kenny Loggins recorded Danny’s Song, it simply reflects the first time the song had any real success. Loggins first recorded Danny’s Song in 1970 with an act called Gator Creek (Mercury Records). The song did not even make it onto the charts. Later, he recorded the song as part of a solo effort, that was supposed to be produced by Jim Messina, formerly of Poco, and then staff producer at CBS.

The project soon became a collaboration between Loggins and Messina, and the name of the album reflected this. It was called Kenny Logins with Jim Messina Sittin’ In (Columbia). The album featured songs written by both artists, including some other previously recorded Loggins songs. The album went gold, and the two went on to work together until 1976, as one of the most successful duos of the 1970s.

This time around, Danny’s Song got a lot of radio play, but still didn’t chart well. Later, in 1973, Anne Murray covered the song and got a big hit. Her version charted at No. 7 on Billboard Country charts.

Danny’s Song is a beautiful pop-country ballad written in the sensitive style that was Kenny Loggins signature. Loggins wrote it for his brother, Danny. A true 8-track memory that any child of the ’70s will recognize, despite its lack of chart success. Although Anne Murray’s version hit the top ten, most people today seem to prefer the Kenny Loggins version. It was the kind of song, and album, people had in their glove box and would play until the 8-track tape wore out, or they wore a groove in the 45 single at home.

Kenny Loggins performed the song as a solo guitar piece, with a simple Travis picking pattern, letting the simple sentiment of the song shine through. It could definitely appeal to country fans but had much more appeal as a popular ballad than the Anne Murray version, which was much more country in its approach, with an instrumental backup including bass and steel guitar. Although it was not exactly over-done in this regard, her version has a more “slick” and polished feel.

Most people today know Kenny Loggins for his soundtrack success. You know Caddy Shack, right? The theme song, I’m Alright, and a big hit in itself, that was Kenny Loggins. And of course, Danger Zone from Top Gun. But, even in 1978, when he had a big hit in this duet with Stevie Nicks, he didn’t exactly become a household name, although he did cement his place as a hit-maker. Ironically, he left behind the simple approach early on, and like most of his songs from that era, this one is perhaps a bit over-produced.

Comparatively few people realize how long he has been an important figure in popular music, and indeed, how successful a duo he and Jim Messina were. Today, many people will likely hear Danny’s Song and remember it fondly, but not even connect it to Loggins. And, it is no wonder people can remember the chorus but not think of the name of the song, as Danny is never mentioned.

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