Friday, May 7, 2004




Kenny’s path

To describe Kenny Loggins as a truth seeker in art and life sounds like so much trite hype.

But if you examine much of his music from the past 30-odd years -- or if you're lucky to spend some time actually talking with the man -- it can be a profoundly moving experience.

Two shows

Kenny Loggins with opening act HAPA

» 7 p.m. today at the Waikiki Shell. Tickets $30 and $55. Call 591-2211.

» 7 p.m. Sunday at the A&B Amphitheater of the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Tickets $35, $45 and $55. Call 808-242-7469.

Loggins' performances tonight at the Waikiki Shell and Sunday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center are likely to exceed the vulnerability, unfettered energy and good fun of his previous concert with the Honolulu Symphony Pops five years ago because now, perhaps more than ever before, he is using his own lyrics to heal.

When I last interviewed Loggins, now 56, he mostly discussed the self-revealing (and self-deprecating book) he wrote with his wife Julia, "The Unimaginable Life." Loggins wasn't proselytizing as much as sharing the themes and lessons from the couple's relationship and how profoundly it affected his own life.

The sheer honesty and undiluted expressions of love the couple expressed through personal journals, love letters, lyrics, poetry and commentary that disclosed the pain, paradox, creativity and passion of their relationship had a tremendous effect on me. So much so that when Loggins and Julia held a couples workshop at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, my wife and I attended and came away a bit renewed. When I spoke to Loggins about this by phone from his tour stop in Albany, N.Y., he sounded pleased, but I sensed some hesitancy to discuss it further.

So I asked when would they write another book?

Silence, then a whispered response. "Well, Julia and I separated about a month ago," he said.

"I haven't gone public because I'm afraid a lot of people will speculate," Loggins said. "Some people thought we were writing a recipe about how to stay together forever, but ... we never said the word 'forever' in our wedding vows."

Their vows talk about them being together to nurture one another's spiritual path, highest good, and healing.

"That's what happening right now," Loggins says in a decidedly sad tone. "Julia is moving off into another direction that's not in the form -- a marriage -- we've been in. But we'll always be connected because we have children ...

"It's not a contentious thing where someone is having an affair and the other person is furious. Julia is on a spiritual path to heal a really big thing in her life ... then move to the next stage of her growth."

IN THE meantime, I'm trying to figure out why I feel so deeply saddened by the revelation. Like most people, I only know Loggins through his music and interviews. But "The Unimagined Life" let me feel connected. "I expected you to be together forever," I said.

"Me, too," he said, chuckling. "People don't understand this kind of situation, because most don't view life as a spiritual path, but rather as acts of willpower.

"You decide to be in love; you decide to raise a family; you make all these commitments and you do it. But there's something else going on called life. It's not predictable. I'm learning that right now." Loggins repeats a line from his vows: "If the spirit takes you somewhere else for your healing, then I release you now."

Julia, Loggins says, "basically kicked me out of the nest."

"She said 'OK, we have had this relationship, now we must move on to the next stage,' " he said. " 'This requires both of us letting go of what has been in order to let in the possibility of what might be.' "

Loggins takes a deep breath.

"If I'm to believe in God, then I have to trust that something is going on here that is intended for my highest growth," he said.

IN THE last decade, Loggins' music has become decidedly more personal, revealing, intimate. In concert, he works hard to break down barriers with the audience. He talks and sings as if it's just you and him, joyfully admitting he's still searching for truths, how much he loves his family.

It's little surprise that Loggins is letting his music help him get through his current situation, including performing more concerts, recording a Spanish language version of "I Miss You" from his current album, and a collaboration with Richard Marx exclusively for iTunes.

"Music keeps me focused," Loggins says. "The music is who I am. When I go out on stage ... the pain goes away for two hours."

Then why not stick to the pop hits and not songs that are so personal? "Why? Ever heard the description 'f---ing idiot'? That's me. Honestly, I have an obligation to myself as an artist to tell the truth. The deeper I can take my music, the more lives it affects, people it touches; that's my purpose."

One of the biggest lessons Loggins is learning is how to stay in the pain. "When things fall apart ... don't do anything about it, but breathe and trust that it's just an emotion and it will move through," he said. "I'm learning how to be with myself and trusting God more than anything I've ever had to do."

Loggins chronicled much of his spiritual growth in the 1990s with "Leap of Faith," the children's album "Return to Pooh Corner," and "The Unimagined Life" book and album.

Could Loggins have left like his Julia?

"I don't think so, loving her as much as I do," he said. "But I know that we're not victims in this, we're volunteers."

Then Loggins whispers another part of his vows.

"'I release you to the spirit that brought you to me. I don't own you. You belong to God. I love you so much that all I want for you is to be happy and to heal.'"

Loggins laughs. "I don't have much of a choice, do I?"

On the cover: Kenny Loggins at Longhi's at Ala Moana last year.

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