Chart Week: October 7, 1978
Song: “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’” – Kenny Loggins (with Stevie Nicks)
Chart Position: #10, 11th week on the chart. Peaked at #5 for two weeks in November.
Controversy! A countdown from the 1970s?!?!?! SiriusXM rebroadcasts original ‘70s AT40 countdowns on its 70s on 7 channel. Unlike their updated version of 1980s countdowns on 80s on 8, which are aired several times from Friday until Tuesday of each week, the 1970s AT40s were normally aired just once on Saturdays, which made it tough to catch them. Recently they began playing them a second time on Sunday mornings. Which is kind of my magic time if I’m in the car. I can listen to the two countdowns airing on Sirius plus the original 1980s AT40. Let me tell you, my family loves it when they’re stuck with me and I’m bouncing between three countdowns at once!11
Anyway, I caught this song a couple weeks ago. And I wondered, why is it not remembered more fondly, replayed more often, and a bigger part of our culture? It’s a freaking brilliant pop song, built on a near-disco bass line, that was perfectly crafted for singing with friends out of key and at the top of your lungs. When Kenny shouts out “Day by day, we can see…” buildings shake and begin to crumble, evil takes a pause and gets weak in the knees, and all that is good in the world pulses just a little bit stronger.
My only guess is that the song may have lent itself to interpretations that weren’t exactly family-friendly. “I know forever we’ll be doing it,” could be awkward to sing along with the kids in the family truckster. And, as I read the lyrics, it’s basically about enjoying the afterglow of good sex.
“Mom, what does it mean when love glows on you every night?”
Might the title lend itself to a naughtier interpretation? Specifically, why is the word friends in quotes? This was the late 70s; was seeing someone and calling them “friend” a signal that it was time to kick on the hot tub, lay out the bearskin rugs, and get down to make some little sweet love?
Still, why isn’t this a bachelorette party, karaoke staple? We should be sick of drunk 20-somethings belting this out with their friends at bars. Perhaps I should be thankful it never got that kind of attention, and I can still appreciate its greatness.
A couple song notes: Loggins wrote this with Melissa Manchester, but sang it with Stevie. Both Loggins and Manchester have said they’d like to record a version together, but in 40+ years have never gotten around to it. Manchester did record a version with Arnold McCuller in 1979, but never released it as a single.
Although Nicks is credited on the album as singing with Loggins, her name was left off of the single, which made this Loggins’ first true solo hit. In fact, if you throw out all the movie soundtrack songs he became most famous for in the 1980s, this was the biggest solo hit of his career. He would never again crack the top 10 without benefit of a song being attached to a soundtrack.
Finally, Loggins’ Nightwatch album also featured a song he wrote with Michael McDonald, “What a Fool Believes.” I did not know that wasn’t a Doobies original.
I listened to Loggins’ version and, as you might expect, it’s not nearly as good as the Doobies’ classic.
Hmmm, the video does not want to embed, so please just follow this link.
- Loggins hit #1 with “Footloose” and #2 with “Danger Zone,” and had two other top 10 hits from movie soundtracks. ↩