Kenny Loggins turns hisBy Tim Ryan
focus to his family
and his love
Getting singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins to perform with the Honolulu Symphony -- his first ever symphony gig -- was simple: Make him an offer he can't refuse.
"I've thought about playing with a symphony a lot, but that kind of show is special because you need to write and refine your music charts and that takes a lot of time," Loggins said in telephone interview from his Santa Barbara home.
Then Matt Catingub, Honolulu Symphony's principal Pops conductor, dangled the magic carrot.
"He's doing all the charts as part of the deal ... it works out for everyone," said Loggins.
The two-hour concert will cover most of music from Loggin's nearly three-decade career, including "The Unimaginable Life" album, medleys and film themes.
The timing of the symphony's request couldn't have been better. Loggins in December finished recording a Christmas album and for the last three years he's been running pretty much on empty, doing as many as 60 performances annually. Since he and wife Julia love Hawaii -- especially Hana, for which their 1-year-old baby is named -- a trip here was what the doctor ordered.
"I turned 51 (in January), have a newborn, and started thinking a lot of 'What ifs' about my life. What if I just did what I wanted to do? How much happier would we be?"
Loggins decided to perform no more than a dozen times in '99 and may record a sequel to his successful children's album, "Return to Pooh Corner." He'll stay involved in some social and environmental issues, and will conduct lectures with Julia based on their 1997 book, "The Unimaginable Life: Lessons Learned on the Path of Love."
In the book Kenny and Julia relate their love story through more than 70 journal entries, letters, lyrics and poetry. It's a no-holds-barred tome in which they share intimate details of their lives, including anger, resentment, sex, insecurity, ego, fear and distrust. But most importantly, it's a tale of commitment, vulnerability, growth and bonding.
Make no mistake that Loggins is proud of his musical career. With Jim Messina, he earned two
platinum and five gold albums, with hits such as "Danny's Song," "Your Mama Don't Dance" and "Love Song." His solo career has produced three platinum albums, "Celebrate Me Home," "Nightwatch" and "Keep the Fire."
He's also won two Grammys: 1980 Song of the Year for "What a Fool Believes" and the 1981 award for Best Pop Vocal for "This Is It." He also picked up an Oscar nomination for "Footloose."
In 1997 Loggins released the "The Unimaginable Life" CD and book combo. And it is in this arena of relationships and personal growth that he is most relaxed, talkative and uninhibited. All at once Loggins the performer becomes healer and healed.
"I've finally learned to love someone and not just get along with them. I used to be so self-centered because there's so much Peter Pan syndrome in rock 'n' roll. No one grows old gracefully in this business ... we become accustomed to being idolized and get used to taking and never giving."
Loggins admits he wrote most of his earlier love songs without any idea of what real love was.
"I was emotionally stunted," he said. "I knew I wanted love, so I just followed my erection, thinking that was the way to get it. And it was to a certain point -- it filled lots of needs, even love."
Loggins has learned that "it takes an act of incredible courage to let love in, to be available for the emotion."
And that's where Julia entered the picture, another incident of good timing and an offer Loggins couldn't refuse. Both had first marriages where the goal was "to get along," Loggins said.
"Julia is incredibly honest and focused about what she wants. She works through her fears with me, not against me, tells me what she needs. I've learned so much. I've learned to ask.
"Love means nothing is concealed," he said. "It's hard and scary, but introspection and angst always lead us to a closer place. The more honest you can be, the less you have to hide. When I have nothing to hide, I have everything to give."
When he turned 40, Loggins said, he became sullen, despite a hugely successful career, a 10,000-square-foot house on 20 acres in the hills above Santa Barbara and "a sexy, blond Swedish wife." He wasn't happy "with any of it." Hitting 50 produced six weeks of depression.
"It blind-sided me," he said. "I saw it as the beginning of the end like it was for my father: the end of his career, his marriage, his health. Sure, I was going to be like dad."
Family problems were never discussed openly.
"I did drugs, drank lots of tequila; never faced the truth about it. I honesty believed I wasn't worth very much to anyone and that if someone loved me it just proved how (screwed) up they were."
Loggins started seeing Julia after separating from his first wife. From the beginning the relationship was as "wonderful" as it was stormy and "impossible."
"I had to learn how to love and be loved," he said. "I questioned everything about myself: Why do we do what we do; why can't I love someone?"
Love is no longer a struggle.
"I consider the book the most artistic work of my career," he said. "I've been deeply in love for 10 years. I just love Julia to death."
Kenny LogginsAppearing with the Honolulu Symphony, conducted by Matt Catingub
Guest performer: Hapa
Concert time: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Place: Waikiki Shell
On Maui: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12, $30-$40. Also, "A Valentines Day of Conscious Relationship with Kenny & Julia Loggins," 1-5 p.m. Feb. 14, $45. Both events at Maui Arts and Cultural Center; call 242-SHOW.
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