Death by Power Ballad: Kenny Loggins, “Forever”

Written by Music, Power Ballads

In this week’s Death by Power Ballad, Rob Smith explores the Aristotelian undertones at play in Kenny Loggins’ “Forever,” only at Popdose.

But even the very hairs of Kenny Loggins’ beard are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows, unless, verily, they maketh a nest in the beard of Loggins.

—Gospel of Luke 12:7 (King Douay-Rheims New International Living World Standard Edition Bible)

Yea, verily, perhaps some of thee are shuddering now, thinking, “Kenny Loggins? Power ballad? Thou sayest wuh?” Oh, but yes—yes—I say unto thee, “Forever” doth qualify, and thou wouldst see/hear this, if thou wilt … um …

Enough with the thee’s and thou’s.

Okay. Yes, “Forever” is primo power balladry—it’s got the power chords; it’s got the drama; it’s got the “Nadia’s Theme” keyboards; it’s got the earnest longing in its lyrics. The only things it is missing are mullets and real, non-electronic drums (Deen Castronovo woulda kicked the shit out of this thing—you always use the kick-ass arena rock drummer pounding real skins and avoid the Roland V-Drums). And even though it was co-written by David Foster, I argue that there is indeed rawk present therein, and a hefty dollop of Aristotelian philosophy, to boot.

“Forever” was apparently written for a film called Access All Areas, produced by the ex-wife of Jim Messina, the portly, crappy-singing half of Loggins and Messina. K-Log and then-wife Eva Ein enlisted Foster to add his trademark Fosterness to the proceedings, and it eventually wound up on Side 2 of Loggins’ 1985 album Vox Humana which, for an album named after the human voice, sounded like it was put together by robots, possibly ones that escaped from Styx’s stadium production of Kilroy Was Here two years previous.

Of course, as chief lyric writers, Loggins and Ein chose the concept of forever, or timelessness, with much determination, and with a nod toward their philosophical forbears. Aristotle, for example, viewed time as a series of moments, entities that were neither past nor future, or that signified the end of the latter and the anticipation of the former. There was, thus, no “first” moment—something Christians (more specifically, Creationists) disagree with—because it denotes the absence of a past, or previous moments; nor will there be an “end” of time, because it would signify the absence of future moments.

K-Log, noted for his Aristotle scholarship (he once owned a t-shirt that read, “One swallow does not make a summer, but it will get you backstage”), thus signifies an everlasting emotional connection when he sings—

I needed to be by your side
If only to hold you.
Forever in my heart
Forever we will be
Even when I’m gone
You’ll be here in me
Forever

This emotional “holding” is likely preferable to a physical connection for that same amount of time, taking into consideration biological concerns, like sweating or chafing. That emotion spills over into the second verse, as K-Log’s voice cracks into a whimper on the words I and cried:

Once I dreamed that you were gone
I cried and tried to find you
I begged the dream would fade away and please awaken me

It’s okay to cry in a power ballad, particularly if you’re making others cry, or enticing comely women to remove their undergarments. That’s a manly kind of crying. Whimpering, however, is frowned upon.

Yet, Loggins is redeemed by the last word uttered in the song—actually, uttered is the wrong word … sung, yelled in tune, whatever. The last “Forever” is the capper, the one you can imagine the great K-Log, spiky hair and countable beard glistening, taking a deep breath and, shaking, hitting the note with maximum effort and effect. And you can imagine it because he does it in the video. All hail Loggins.