Saturday, 15 Jun 2024

Exile on Newbury St.

kenny loggins partner

Mitch’s Pitch:

Simon & Garfunkel.
Hall & Oates.
Loggins & Messina.

They’re the three most famous duos in rock history, but one of these is not like the other. It always seemed like Paul Simon and Darryl Hall were saddled with Art Garfunkel and John Oates, and, given the chance, they’d gladly toss their partner overboard for some sweet solo success. Where Paul was quite successful as a solo act (especially when he was stealing those Los Lobos songs!), Darryl could never quite break through until he started inviting people over to his house. But somehow fate (and music fans) tied these artists together forever. Art Garfunkel seems like the biggest pain in the ass in the world – the Larry David of folk-rock – and yet his angelic voice absolutely elevated Paul’s songs. John Oates seemingly brought nothing but good vibes and a great mustache, but his presence is clearly a prerequisite for H2O’s success. I think of these as begrudging partnerships, where there’s a clear dominant partner and the other guy. They were partners before they were successful, and they’re stuck together because we think of them in the context of being half a duo. There’s some real monkey’s paw stuff going on here – you’ll achieve all of the success you’ve ever dreamed of, but you’re going to be eternally stuck with the guy with the jewfro or the Magnum mustache.

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Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina: A Different Kind of Partnership

Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina were a different kind of partnership. They didn’t grow up playing stickball in Brooklyn or running away from gangsters in Philly. They didn’t even intend on becoming musical partners. It just happened. It was an accidental pairing, based on musical chemistry, and it was (mellow) magic while it lasted.

Over time, Kenny Loggins’ solo success completely overshadowed Loggins & Messina. When we think of Kenny Loggins, we think of ‘80s movies – Footloose, Caddyshack, and Top Gun – and his iconic soundtrack hits. In retrospect, it seems like Kenny Loggins was the senior partner in Loggins & Messina, but that definitely wasn’t true at the time.

Jim Messina was the wünderkind producer and guitar player who stepped in to finish up the third and final Buffalo Springfield album after Young and Stills lost interest, and then went on to found Poco with Richie Furay. A grizzled veteran by the age of 23, Messina was hired to produce Kenny Loggins’ debut album. He ended up contributing so much that they became partners and made 6 records together, including their second, Loggins and Messina.

A True Duo Album

A confession: at one point in my life, I was so obsessed with early country-rock that I kept a spreadsheet of every album ever released in the genre and collected most of them. I studied The Byrds family tree and tracked down every album by anyone named Parsons, be they Gram or Gene. I read all the books and argued with strangers online. I saw Marty Stuart play Clarence White’s guitar at the Grand Ole Opry and couldn’t understand why no one else was bursting with excitement.

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So, yeah, a Loggins & Messina album from 1973 is right in my wheelhouse, especially when it sounds as good as Loggins and Messina.

The first thing that jumps out is the singing. They each sound great individually, but their harmonies and doubled-up vocals are truly special, especially on a beautiful song like the touching Viet Nam reflection “Golden Ribbons”.

I also appreciate the stylistic diversity in the songwriting. There are rockers (“Good Friend”, “Angry Eyes”), rave-ups (“Holiday Hotel”), folk ditties (“Whiskey”), jazzy soft rock (“Lady of My Heart”, “Thinking of You”), blues (“Long Tail Cat”), bluegrass (“Just Before the News”), and straight country (“Holiday Hotel”).

And yet, even with all of the genre shifts, there’s still a tremendous cohesiveness to the album, held together by Messina’s deft production touch. The album is warm and inviting, it feels sparse and uncluttered, even when the songs are layered with flutes and harmonicas.

Loggins and Messina is a true duo album by a willing and generous partnership, two artists who clearly respect each other and bring out the best in each other. It’s a rare and special thing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the history of Loggins & Messina?
A: Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina didn’t intend to become partners. It happened by accident, based on their musical chemistry. They went on to make 6 records together, including their second, Loggins and Messina.

Q: What is the significance of Loggins and Messina’s album from 1973?
A: Loggins and Messina is a highly regarded album from 1973. It showcases their beautiful harmonies, stylistic diversity, and Messina’s skillful production. It is considered a true duo album and a testament to their partnership.

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Musical partnerships are tenuous, which is probably why there aren’t more of them, and they don’t seem to last that long. It’s hard for artists to subsume their egos and accept creative input and feedback from someone else, especially if one partner feels superior to the other. Then again, it might help people get along when you’re as high as Kenny & Jimmy look on the cover of Loggins and Messina.

Ultimately, the partnership between Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina may not have reached the same fame and recognition as some other duos, but their musical chemistry and the quality of their collaboration cannot be denied. Loggins and Messina is a testament to their talent and a reminder of the unique and special dynamics that can occur in a duo.