The second duet this month also features a male singer named Kenny, although this time it’s Loggins and not Rogers. His female duet partner, although strangely not credited on the single (as seen on the left) is none other than one of my top five artists, Stevie Nicks. The song is “Whenever I Call You Friend.” Coincidentally, like “Boogie Oogie Oogie”, it is also from 1978.
I really have no recollection of this song being popular. That kind of stands to reason as I was pretty young in 1978. If my parents weren’t giving me music, I wasn’t hearing it. But you can bet your last dollar that by the time I really started getting into Stevie Nicks in 1987, I knew the song. The bad thing was that I never had it on any kind of media – no 45, no album (it’s not on any of Stevie’s albums as it predates the start of her solo career by 4 years) and I certainly didn’t like Kenny Loggins enough to buy an album of his. I am pretty sure the first time I ever possessed the song on any physical media was when I recorded it off the radio in college. I didn’t recognize the beginning of it so for many years, I listened to it starting at the point right before Kenny Loggins starts singing. Eventually, the song made it on to Stevie’s Enchanted box set and all was right with the world.
The great thing about “Whenever I Call You Friend” is the harmonies. Much like Dolly Parton, I swear that Stevie was born to sing harmony. You would think that Stevie, hot off the mega-success of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours would not settle for singing primarily harmony. She really only gets about a few half verses of actual melody and the rest of it is pretty much harmony. But for some reason, it really works for this song. Granted, even though her part on the chorus is technically harmony, I have always heard it as melody, pretty much like any harmony part she sings in Fleetwood Mac. My ear, not surprisingly, focuses on her voice. Even so, I think Stevie is particularly hard to understand on this song. For year’s I thought “sweet love showin’ us some heavenly light” was “sweet love, something something, Saturday night.”
Why she was not credited on this single is beyond my comprehension. Again, after two huge hit albums with Fleetwood Mac, you would think that she would not stand for being uncredited. Apparently she is credited on the album, but not the single. Still, “Whenever I Call You Friend” was one of Kenny Loggins’ first big hits, and you have to wonder how much of that had to do with the fact that Stevie was on it.
There are a handful of versions of this song, including one by the song’s co-writer, Melissa Manchester, but Loggins & Nicks made the definitive version…
…because Manchester’s version is a snoozefest.