Kenny Loggins

June 25, 2011 – This past week I found myself soggy from both gin-and-tonics and a rainstorm and sitting in a century-old concert hall listening to an orchestra play the themes from Jaws, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and E.T. Then I went backstage to meet Kenny Loggins. Sounds like one of those strange shifts that happen in dreams, right? But that's the deal I made when I jumped aboard this yellow submarine. You keep making life random, I'll keep living it.

Thanks to a friend of the family, my wife and I came into some last-minute free tickets to see the Boston Pops play a summer-themed concert at their small but elegant Symphony Hall at 301 Massachusetts Ave. Summer-themed basically meant a lot of baseball references, a lot of movie references, and one baseball movie reference. And it also gave the conductor license to toss golf balls into the crowd, apparently, while replica Greek and Roman statues looked down from their wall niches in either gentle approbation or disapprobation, I couldn’t tell which.

The centerpiece of the concert was a John Williams musical tribute (who conducted the Boston Pops for 15 years before the current conductor Keith Lockhart was handed the baton). That sounds like it should’ve been the prize in that cereal box, right? I mean, John Williams’ music has done more to influence the modern movie experience than Orville Redenbacher and whoever invented reclining seats combined, and to hear his music performed live is a rare treat since it takes like 40 people to play and they’re usually all off doing more serious music that wasn’t used to backdrop a guy in a fedora running from a giant rolling rock.

However, for the finale, a thin man in a black shirt and goatee walked on stage with a guitar and two back-up musicians (not counting the scores of people seated behind them with polished wooden and brass instruments held in various positions like weapons before a battle). Kenny Loggins. His level of relevance: He’s got a bit of expertise in the whole movie soundtrack business.

If you’re into adult contemporary or find yourself in dentist chairs a lot, you’re probably a fan of Loggins. The rest of us know him as the guy who made it possible to experience 80s movies from the cassette decks of our cars. He’s best known for I’m Alright from Caddyshack (1980), Footloose from the 1984 movie of the same name, and Highway to the Danger Zone from Top Gun (1986). He also wrote Meet Me Halfway from Over the Top (1987), but doesn’t get as much recognition for it. Not his fault. It’s a movie about arm wrestling.

For the concert, he performed about a half-hour set that included a couple of his more popular non-soundtrack songs, before finishing up with I’m Alright and Footloose. I tweeted drunkenly about it at the time, but it bears sober repeating: I saw Kenny Loggins perform the theme from Caddyshack live. Wasn’t really on my bucket list, but I went back and put it on there so that I could cross it off.

I’m not a particular fan of Loggins (well, technically I am a fan of anybody who was even peripherally involved with Caddyshack), so when those free tickets came with backstage passes, we had to decide whether or not to take the time to spend an awkward few moments with a guy who’s been imploring audiences to “kick off their Sunday shoes” so long that we don’t even know what Sunday shoes even are anymore.

Just kidding. No decision needed to be made. I collect awkward moment in jeweled boxes that I display on top of our toilet tanks.

So, after the concert, we wandered through the ornate hall, past the merchandise stand hawking CDs, T-shirts, and panties with "Danger Zone" written on them, to a guarded door with a short line of genuine fans of his that didn’t all have passes but were hoping to catch a glimpse or an autograph. We’re kind of jerks.

We only hung with him for a few minutes. We weren’t being rushed by his entourage or anything, but as soon as we walked through the door we became hyper-aware that we didn’t have anything to say to him. He, on the other hand, seemed just as unsure (or post-performance weary, more likely). After all, he’s probably used to dealing with both fans and nonfans, but nonfans pretending to be fans? That takes a whole different set of people skills.

We exchanged some pleasantries, complimented him on his set, and then he was nice enough to pose for a few pics with us, during which I realized I didn’t know quite how to do that since I think I put my arm around him like he was a girl.

I don’t get my picture taken with many famous people in my line of life. In fact, so far it’s pretty much been Dan Aykroyd and Kenny Loggins. Which means I’m only like 44 more people away from getting my picture taken with all the performers on We Are the World.