Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Favorite songs: Heart to Heart – Kenny Loggins (High Adventure, 1982)

Kenny Loggins was never the one who kicked you in the ass with his no-nonsense musical attitude. He's more like the musical equivalent of a friendly pat on the shoulder - and yes, he's frequently nonsensical. But that doesn’t really bother me. He had a couple of magical moments in his career, and this is one of them. As far as I’m concerned, this is the definition of smooth. “Heart to Heart” was co-written by Loggins with Michael McDonald and David Foster.

The song is firmly rooted in 1982. There’s a synth ambience – but it’s tasteful and discrete. It has a warm and analogue feel. Had he recorded this a year later, the acoustic piano riffs would’ve been Jump-style synth riffs fronting static synth bass and a drum machine. A couple of years earlier, and he’d surely vocoded the background vocals or something. Thank God for 1982.

From the three opening chords you can tell this is going to be done just right. On the one hand you’ve got Michael McDonald starting up his groove on the Fender Rhodes, on the other you’ve got David Foster syncopating away on his acoustic piano. Enter two percussionists (Lenny Castro and Paulinho Da Costa), a drummer (Tris Imboden) and some excellent thumb bass fills (courtesy of Derek Jackson) and we’re off. This is it.

The musical bed is rhythmically intricate, yet still somehow all soft and comfortable. There’s a little bit of jazz, and a little bit of R&B. Loggins’ vocals are as light as a fluffy pillow and the whole darn thing just smells as fresh as a daisy in the field. (used in accordance with The Intentional Use of Cliché-Ridden Idiom’s Act).

Mike Hamilton’s credited on guitar, but I don’t hear him anywhere. Enter some strings in the pre-chorus (courtesy of Marty Paich, which to me suggests they’re real, but I’m not sure) to bring on that floating feeling. Richard Page and Steve George do a McDonald-light on background vocals (hard to believe the ‘daar-liin’ part was done without McDonald – it’s my only complaint – he should’ve been there). Page and George (of Pages and Mr. Mister) are still great, and their vocal stylings are appropriately dominant throughout the tune. David Sanborn plays an insightful and beautifully logical pop-sax-solo and it all fades out far too soon at 5 minutes and 21 seconds.

The lyric’s about a guy in a relationship that's on the verge of collapse, but he figures they may have one more shot if they open up “heart to heart” – it’s decent, but I’m never able to concentrate on the lyrics anyway. I’m always caught somewhere in the middle between McD’s Rhodes and Foster’s acoustic grand. And what a great place to be in 1982.

The album “High Adventure” was released in 1982. "Heart To Heart" was released as a single in 1983, peaking at #15 on the US Pop Charts, #3 on the US AC charts.


Mulberry Panda 96 said...

Great, great song -- no doubt about it. Stephen Thomas Erlewine at said that "Heart to Heart" and "This Is It" are Loggins's two best songs, and I agree.

Jason said...

I'm sorry I missed this entry back earlier in the month. "Heart To Heart" is an unbelievable freaking song. I'm sad to say that Loggins did not do it justice when I saw him in concert a few months ago.

I'm eventually going to do a post about McD/Loggins collaborations. When it comes time to mention "Heart To Heart," I'm just directing everybody here. You've said it all brilliantly.

Terje Fjelde said...

Thanks, Jason. I don't know what Loggins did wrong when you saw him, but his generation of musicians are getting older (he's quickly approaching 60) and I guess it's going pretty much downhill for most of them (have you noticed Peter Cetera's clever microphone trick when he's trying to hit his high notes nowadays - he looks allergic to the mic.)

Besides, it seems Loggins was never very good at recognizing the strengths of his talent throughout his career. As I see it, anyway.

Kelila said...

Good words.

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