Whenever I Call You "Friend"

Album: Nightwatch (1978)
Charted: 5
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Songfacts®:

  • Kenny Loggins co-wrote this with Melissa Manchester but sang it with Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. He wanted to sing it with Manchester, but they were under different contracts. Loggins had the good fortune of being Fleetwood Mac's opening act for about a year and a half while they were touring behind their Rumours album, and this gave Kenny a lot of exposure. It's also how he got to know Stevie Nicks, who didn't get official credit on the song until the album was reissued.
  • The "Friend" of the title means the singer is friends with his girl, but also is in a relationship with her.
  • Melissa Manchester did a quiet version with Arnold McCuller singing backing vocals. The song was also covered by Michael Johnson and Alison Krauss. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sara - Silver Spring, MD, for all above
  • According to Manchester, she and Loggins kept running into each other at awards shows, where they were often paired together as presenters. Finally, he asked her if she'd like to collaborate and they wrote this tune at her home in one night. Loggins brought his copy of the cassette to his friend Michael McDonald and played it for him. The Doobie Brothers singer thought it was just okay. Manchester got the same reaction when she played it for Clive Davis, the head of Arista Records. The songwriters were vindicated when the single became a Top 10 hit.

    Said Manchester: "When you hear Kenny's sublime arrangement and the production value, I hope everyone was scratching their heads saying, 'How did we miss that?'"
  • Loggins has a slightly different account of the song's timeline. In a 2020 interview with Professor of Rock, Loggins said he had been saving the melody for McDonald, his songwriting partner on "What a Fool Believes" and "This Is It," and actually played it for him the day before his writing date with Manchester. He was crushed when McDonald turned it down because he didn't hear a hit.
  • Nicks said Loggins pushed her so hard to get the vocal he wanted that she nearly quit. "That was a discipline thing," she told High Times in 1982. "I call him Slave-Driver Loggins. He cracked the whip on me for two days to get that particular performance. And I was downright angry at points where I was going, 'I'm not going to do this.' He said, 'Yes, you are.' He's a real good producer, Kenny, he got exactly what he wanted. When it was done and I left, I was knocked out. I really had to keep my mouth shut and do what I was told. And it worked. He wasn't interested in a dull vocal."
  • Nightwatch is Loggins' second solo album following Celebrate Me Home. He previously performed in the popular pop/rock duo Loggins & Messina with Poco and Buffalo Springfield veteran Jim Messina.
  • The album peaked at #7 on the US albums chart.
  • When Manchester appeared on The Muppet Show in 1980, she sang this with Floyd Pepper (the bass player from The Electric Mayhem) and the rest of the Muppets.
  • This was used on the TV shows Glee ("Frenemies" - 2014), Up All Night ("Letting Go" - 2012), and Masquerade ("Caribbean Holiday" - 1984). It was also featured in the 1995 movie Safe, starring Julianne Moore.
  • Loggins said the intro was inspired by his love of Beach Boys harmonies. He said: "I always loved that challenge of trying to create intricate counterpoint melodies, vocal things."

Comments: 9

  • Chris from MilwaukeeTo me, the intro is perfection. I could (and often do) listen to those harmonies over and over. There’s almost a haunting quality to them, bittersweet, like how it hurts when you love someone so much.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenThe spoken words at the start of it sound like Loggins saying "If...if it happens...when you get there."
  • Arthur from New JerseyMelissa Manchester feels she is unhappy with her own recording of the song, and did not include it in a recent compilation for that reason. She still hopes to record the song with Kenny Loggins -if they can ever get together to do it!
  • Steve from OttawaThese two slightly unusual voices, at their peaks, meld beautifully. The song is irrestibly romantic and loving. Brings me back to my teen years, aching for this woman and that, dreaming of love and kisses and more.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 23rd 1978, "Whenever I Call You Friend" by Kenny Loggins entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and on October 22nd, 1978 it peaked at #5 (for 2 weeks) and spent 20 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 7 of those 20 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    It reached #3 in Canada and #9 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Between 1977 and 1991 he had twenty Top 100 records; five made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Footloose", for 3 weeks on March 25th, 1984...
    Just missed having a 2nd #1 when "Danger Zone" peaked at #2 (for 1 week) on July 20th , 1986 (the song was from the 'Top Gun' movie soundtrack album)...
    Kenneth Clark Loggins will celebrate his 67th birthday this coming January 7th, 2014.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxWhat's that muttering that's going on at the beginning?
  • John from Ortonville, MnMs. Manchester also did this song when she was the guest star on the Muppet Show in the early 1980's with Floyd(of the band) as her duet partner(and a lot of other muppets)
  • Glenn from San Jose, CaI used to misunderstand this song. I thought they said, "Sweet love showing up on Saturday night." I thought it was their way of providing countermeasures to "Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody." It actually says "every night." Consider that then 6 ways from Saturday.
  • Rod from Gainesville, Flthis song is magical and really expresses a deep and lasting friendship
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