Long before Kenny Loggins became “The Soundtrack King” of the 1980s, writing and performing hits for films, including Footloose (title song), Caddyshack (“I’m Alright”), and Top Gun (“Danger Zone”), he was writing songs with Jim Messina (Loggins and Messina) and would record six albums as a duo from 1971 through 1976 before releasing his debut album, Celebrate Me Home, in 1977.
Prior to working with Messina, Loggins started out writing for the band Gator Creek with Mike Deasy, releasing one album and the song “Danny’s Song” (later recorded by Loggins and Messina). Throughout the ’70s, Loggins was also writing with longtime collaborator, and friend, Michael McDonald—even co-writing what would become a Doobie Brothers‘ classic—along with Stevie Nicks for their 1975 duet “Whenever I Call You “Friend,” in addition to writing a number of other songs for artists.
Here are five songs Kenny Loggins wrote—from The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Winnie the Pooh hit to a recent Thundercat single—for other artists from 1970 through 2017.
1. “House at Pooh Corner,” The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1970)
Written by Kenny Loggins
An ode to Winnie the Pooh, “House at Pooh Corner” was one of four songs written by Loggins for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and recorded first on their 1970 album, Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy. Based on the classic 1928 book of the same name by Pooh creator A.A. Milne, Loggins wrote the song when he was 17. Told from the perspective of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin on childhood nostalgia and the loss of innocence, Loggins & Messina later covered the song and released it on their 1971 album, Sittin’ In.
Christopher Robin and I walked along,
Under branches lit up by the moon.
Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore,
As the days disappeared far too soon.
Now I wandered much further today than I should,
And I can’t find my way to the three-acre wood.
So help me if you can, I’ve got to get
2. “I Believe in Love,” Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson (1976)
Written by Kenny Loggins, Alan Bergman, and Marilyn Bergman
Though “I Believe in Love” was the first single off Kenny Loggins’ 1977 debut alum, Celebrate Me Home, the song was first introduced in the 1976 film A Star is Born, and performed by stars Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The song was first released on the soundtrack for the film and as a B-side to “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born).” When Loggins released it a year later, it became the first charting single, peaking at No. 66 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Rosemary Clooney and Johnny Mathis both recorded the song in the early 1980s.
Climbin’ up your money tree
You’ve got to hide it
Monkey do what the monkey see
You’re on a one-way street and you’re speedin’
Missin’ the signs you should be readin’
That’s the things you’ll later be needin’
I believe in love
3. “Take it Uptown,” Bill Champlin (1981)
Written by Kenny Loggins and Bill Champlin
Breaking from his longtime group, Sons of Champlin, Bill Champlin’s 1981 solo album, Runaway, featured a collection of collaborations, including the single “Sara,” co-written with late actor Alan Thicke; the title track, penned with Toto’s Steve Lukather; and several songs contributed by David Foster. Also on the album was the uptempo jazzy love-call of “Take it Uptown,” co-written by Champlin and Kenny Loggins.
I know you’ll be satisfied
If you’ll take a chance
Steppin’ in time, stay by my side
Welcome to the dance
So turn it up, I’m burin’ up
Got to cool me with your ooo, ooo, music
I want everybody to sing Hey Now
Hey Now, Hey Now, Hey Now
We’ll take it uptown tomorrow
I’ll make it a night you won’t forget
And if I have to beg or borrow
We’re gonna be side by side tomorrow night
4. “I Gotta Try,” Michael McDonald (1982)
Written by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald
Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins already collaborated years before “I Gotta Try.” The two co-wrote Loggin’s 1978 single “What a Fool Believes,” for his second album, Nightwatch, which would become a No. 1 hit for the Doobie Brothers. The band released their version several months after Loggins and won two Grammys for Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1980.
The duo then co-wrote “This is It,” off Loggins’ third album, Keep the Fire, which featured backing vocals by McDonald and won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1981.
Loggins and McDonald continued to collaborate on numerous songs over the years with Loggins co-writing “I Gotta Try” for McDonald’s 1982 solo debut album, If That’s What it Takes. Loggins would also cover the song on his fourth album, High Adventure.
Some people see a change
Some will remain the same
But all of them live their lives under the gun
Some see the road as clear
Some say the end is here
They say it’s a hopeless fight, well I say I gotta try
Maybe there’s too much to think about it
Maybe there ain’t nothin’ left to say
But if our time’s really runnin’ out
Then this is no time to run away
5. “Show You The Way,” Thundercat (2017)
Written by Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and Stephen Bruner (Thundercat)
Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald teamed up to write “Show You the Way,” off Thundercat’s third album, Drunk. The album also features guest appearances from Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, and late rapper Mac Miller. Co-written along with Thundercat, real name Stephen Bruner, “Show You The Way,” also features Loggins and McDonald on the track.
Let me show you, show you the way
On the edge of dark there’s a brightest light
A burning one, on the edge of dark
Where no one can tell their worlds apart
We’ll live with dark, just take the ride
Heavy-hearted, a lover ends life
I just wanna live, learn how to fight
When it’s all over, breathe into the light
Sink or swim, I’m not scared to die
Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images