Kenny Loggins became the King of the Movie Theme Song in the ’80s. And it all started at the top of the decade in 1980, when he contributed “I’m Alright” to Caddyshack.
After finding success in the early ’70s with the country-rock duo Loggins & Messina, the singer and songwriter went solo, proving to be bankable with “This Is It” and a hit duet with Stevie Nicks, “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’.” He also placed a song, “I Believe in Love,” on the soundtrack to Barbra Streisand’s 1976 update of A Star Is Born.
That put Loggins in the orbit of Jon Peters, who was Streisand’s boyfriend at the time, as well as the producer of A Star Is Born and the executive producer on Caddyshack.
As detailed in Chris Nashawaty’s Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story, Loggins wasn’t the first choice of director and co-writer Harold Ramis, who wanted Pink Floyd. When they declined, Peters invited Loggins to watch a rough cut of Caddyshack and see if it sparked anything.
“I ended up writing four pieces of music for the movie,” Loggins recalled in the book. “But the main one was ‘I’m Alright,’ which just came to me from watching the opening scene of Danny on his bicycle. I’d never written a song specifically for a movie before, but I found it to be really easy because the emotional situation was handed to you on a platter. You didn’t have to come up with something out of the blue like you usually do as a songwriter.”
Listen to ‘I’m Alright’ in the Opening Scene of ‘Caddyshack’
That night, back at home, Loggins wrote “I’m Alright” at his kitchen table in only a few hours. Using Bob Dylan‘s “Gotta Serve Somebody” as the temp track, he figured the movie’s producers “were telling me that they wanted to present [Danny] as a rebel caught in this country-club environment where he had to suppress that. I felt like the song should have a fuck-all-you-people quality to it.”
After demoing the song, Loggins immediately recognized its potential. “I knew I fucking had one in the bag,” he said. “That doesn’t happen often enough. I just listened to it and thought, ‘This is a smash!'”
Loggins’ instincts were correct. “I’m Alright” peaked at No. 7, setting him up for a decade in which he’d place songs from three other movies – Footloose, Top Gun and Caddyshack II – in the Top 10. “Footloose” topped the chart; Top Gun’s “Danger Zone” reached No. 2. Another soundtrack song, “Meet Me Half Way” from Over the Top, just missed the Top 10 with a No. 11 showing.