Kenny Loggins talks about the 'Top Gun' soundtrack and battling addiction in his new book, 'Still Alright'

Kenny Loggins sits down with Yahoo Entertainment's Lyndsey Parker to talk about his new book, Still Alright. He discusses his '80s soundtrack career, including the Top Gun soundtrack's Danger Zone and Playing with the Boys, and also reflects on his alter recovery from addiction to pills.

Video transcript

LYNDSEY PARKER: Hey, I'm Lyndsey Parker, and I'm talking to singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins about his new autobiography, "Still All Right" on "Under the Covers." [MUSIC PLAYING]

There is a chapter in the book called "At the Movies." And you were the soundtrack GOAT, basically, in the '80s. "Top Gun" is on everyone's mind at the moment.

KENNY LOGGINS: I love what's happening, of course, with "Danger Zone" and "Top Gun." All of a sudden, it's streaming a million streams a day, which is amazing.

LYNDSEY PARKER: That's a huge, huge song. But I'm even a bigger fan of another song you did for the "Top Gun" soundtrack, which I think is a total bop. It's kind of become a cult favorite over the years. And that is "Playing with the Boys."

[MUSIC - KENNY LOGGINS, "PLAYING WITH THE BOYS"]

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KENNY LOGGINS: There were a lot of X coming to different screenings to write music for the movie. And so I figured the competition would be stiff and plentiful. We got to the volleyball scene. And I said, we have to write for this one because we won't have any competition. It seemed to me that nobody would write for the volleyball scene. I saw it as a secondary scene to the movie, just a little fluffy moment. And that it took on a life of its own was not anticipated.

LYNDSEY PARKER: So that scene, the volleyball scene with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer became quite iconic. And we are in the middle of Pride Month and Spin later called it a sort of, kind of accidental gay anthem. It was a sexual awakening for a lot of people.

KENNY LOGGINS: Sometimes songs are adopted in ways that you'd never see coming. I think, lyrically, for me, it was a metaphor for the dangers of being in a relationship. They said it was the wrong thing for me to do. They said it's just a boys game, but girls play too. But apparently that message that I wrote in that lyric has nothing to do with how people hear the song.

LYNDSEY PARKER: You redid it recently as well.

KENNY LOGGINS: And I want to tell you about that because that's incredibly connected to what you're talking about. We expected the sequel to "Top Gun" to be written and made years ago, but nothing really got adopted until Tom decided to produce it.

The director came to meet with me. And he told me, you know, we definitely want to use "Danger Zone," only you don't get to tell anybody about it because we want to keep it as a surprise. But he asked me to give it a shot on "Playing with the Boys" too. And he wanted me to do a boy-girl version, a duet with a female.

And I thought about Butterfly Boucher. She's from Australia. She's definitely a gay female. Unfortunately, they didn't use it in the movie, but you should check it out if you get a chance. It's still very much in that ethos of what you were referring to, with what we're celebrating this month.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Very cool. I was also surprised to find out that you were not first in line to do "Danger Zone." Bryan Adams was in the running and Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon, I believe.

KENNY LOGGINS: Right. I talked to Kevin, and he said he couldn't hit the high notes. So he bailed. Mickey Thomas from Starship was one of the top contenders, as I understand it, definitely could hit the high notes. But the message I got, the rumor I got was that the lawyers had screwed it up.

And suddenly Giorgio found himself with a song he had to dub into the movie in like three days, being "Danger Zone" and no singer for it. And he heard that I was in the studio down the street, working on "Playing with the Boys," so he called me and said, are you interested? And I just asked one question, which was, is it a rocker?

Two days later, I'm in Giorgio's studio, and he and I worked on the tune vocally. My inspiration for my vocal approach was Tina Turner because I wanted to have that edgy thing that she was developing, her new rock persona with that classic R&B voice that she had and pushed it into a more of a Rod Stewart direction. So when I got to "Danger Zone," I did definitely my version of Tina.

LYNDSEY PARKER: There's some other soundtrack stuff that I learned from the book "Still all Right." Tina was the reference point for "Danger Zone." And then Dylan, I would not have picked up on it, but he was a bit of the inspiration for "I'm All Right" from "Caddyshack." David Bowie's "Modern Love" was one of the reference points to "Footloose," which now I totally hear, now that I'm thinking about it. I've always thought of "Footloose" as basically the male "Flashdance." And I was very interested to find out that you wrote a song that was supposed to be in "Flashdance."

KENNY LOGGINS: I never actually finished it. It was a song that I called "No Dancing Allowed" before I fully realized that was exactly "Footloose" all over again. The song I had started when I saw the movie only, the little screen in Bruckheimer office. I watched most of "Flashdance," and then he told me I wanted in on it. I passed on the movie.

And then I went out to do my tour. I took one step too many over to the stage left and fell off the stage, spun around backwards in mid-air and hit the packing cases that were on the floor behind us and broke three ribs. I went home, and they gave me plenty of painkillers. And while I was on the painkillers, I suddenly believed that I could go in the studio as I'm not on tour anymore and I feel fine, so why not just finish the song and go in the studio and write it and record a song for "Flashdance"?

Then I realized that I cut it in a key that was too high for me because I was too damn stoned to think about what key the damn song was in. I was just a little too Percodaned out. And I just said, OK I'm throwing in the towel. I'm out.

LYNDSEY PARKER: You were mentioning when you were talking about "Flashdance" being a high key that you were stoned on pills at the time. And that's something I learned from the book is that that was something you grappled with a couple of times in your life.

KENNY LOGGINS: My addictions were primarily benzodiazepine, which came from my doctor and was like, well, you're going through a tough time-- this was the second divorce-- take these benzos, but try not to take them for too long. And I had two little kids so when it was kid time, I wanted to have my [BLEEP] together.

And it was difficult, you know. I don't know whether you've gone through one of those, but they can be very, very difficult. The second one was especially difficult for me. But then I got off of it. And then when I had a back surgery that I had difficulty with, they put me back on it. And then when I got back on it the second time, I just couldn't get off it. So I had to go to a clinic in, of all places, Florida to get off of it.

Then once they know-- this takes about a week for them to go yes, you're no longer physically addicted. And then the emotional part of the addiction kicks in and also physical, to the point where I went five days without sleeping when I first got home. My brain couldn't shut down.

But the emotional aspect of the benzo, what you initially took it for, that was no longer happening in my life by then. So as far as the trauma from the divorce, I could move into more of a meditative place to deal with that.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Now that you're looking back on your whole life in the book, is there any big takeaway, anything that, like, blew your mind or like anything that was particularly therapeutic or cathartic to write about?

KENNY LOGGINS: I think it was all very both therapeutic and cathartic. We have more than one emotion at any given time. Take, for example, divorce itself. On one hand, I can say, god that was just the worst moment of my life. And on the other, I can also say it was the most learning experience I've had that taught me a lot about myself and my beliefs. And so is it a bad moment or a good moment? It's a difficult moment, but I think when I look back, I've learned the most from my most difficult moments.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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