Thirty-two years after Kenny Loggins released the hit song “Footloose” from the soundtrack to the 1984 Kevin Bacon film of the same name, the catchy, toe-tapping tune remains a classic. Now Loggins has given it new life in the form of a children’s book set in a zoo with reimagined lyrics and characters.
The book marks Loggins’ first foray into children’s projects since 2000’s “More Songs From Pooh Corner” and 1994’s “Return to Pooh Corner,” two of the best-selling children’s records of all time, although he has stayed in public eye beyond the music world. For example, he voiced an animated version of himself who demanded to be called “K-Logg” in an episode of the Atlanta-based series “Archer” in 2014, the same year he appeared onstage with a Loggins tribute band in the series finale of “Raising Hope.”
At 8:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, he will kick off the 25th edition of the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center by talking about his book with Mara Davis and presenting a short music show.
Ahead of his trip to Atlanta, Loggins talked with the AJT about his children’s book.
AJT: You’re not making many appearances to promote this book. Why Atlanta and why the Book Festival of the MJCCA?
Loggins: Well, I did the Chicago book fair, and my publisher also wanted me to do this book festival. They felt it was one of the more important ones to be a part of.
AJT: You completely rewrote “Footloose” for this book. What was that process like?
Loggins: Those of us who know the movie “Footloose” know the story of the repression of dancing in a Southern town, and this is not that at all. I got a call from Charlie Nurnberg, who has been my book publisher for the past few years, and he asked me what I thought of doing “Footloose” as a kids’ book. We ended up deciding to do the book at a zoo with a bunch of dancing animals and Jack the Zookeeper. I held on to almost all the names from the original songs but turned them into animals who were having fun dancing with each other.
AJT: What’s the actual story inside the book?
Loggins: The idea is that Jack lets the animals out of their cages during a full moon so they can come out and dance. But they have to make sure all the people have left the zoo. No humans are allowed to see this except for Jack. Two little kids sneak in and see all the animals dancing. Little kids love animals. I’ve got a granddaughter who is a year and a half old. Anything with animals is OK with her. We just had fun with it.
AJT: I saw another interview you did about this book where you cautioned against reading this to kids as a bedtime story.
Loggins: The book comes with a CD, so we’re gonna play “Footloose,” which is still the same rocking version but with new lyrics. So you play that song, and the kids are going to want to get up and dance. It’s not exactly what you would do for bedtime, so I advise you play it an hour before that.
AJT: What can you say about the man behind the illustrations in this book, Tim Bowers?
Loggins: It’s been a joy working with Tim. The way he painted all the animals was brilliant. I would give him all these characters, but he really brought them to life with the illustrations.
AJT: Neil Sedaka also recently released a children’s book that reimagined one of his big hits in “Waking Up Is Hard to Do,” which was a play on “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.” If you do another book, have you given any thought to another song that would make a good book?
Loggins: We were just joking about that, and we think we should take “Danger Zone” and make it a Christmas book called “Manger Zone.”
AJT: What made you decide to get back into children’s music?
Loggins: Children will play a song 6,000 times if they like it. As a parent, that can wear you down. I’ve always loved making music that the parents could enjoy as much as the children. It’s music for parents that the children can love too. I’m also working on another record now that we are debating whether it’s a romantic or children’s record that’s going to be called “Music to Make and Enjoy Children By.”
AJT: Anything to say to the people of Atlanta?
Loggins: I know this sounds like pandering, but I love hanging out in Atlanta. They have the prettiest girls and a lot of fun places to go.
Already with one of the top-selling children’s albums of all time to his name, Kenny Loggins has released his first children’s book.
Inspired by the birth of his first grandchild in 2015, Loggins took to rewriting his iconic 1980s tune “Footloose” for a new generation in the form of a children’s book with an accompanying CD. It is his first work aimed at children since 2000’s “More Songs From Pooh Corner.”
The book tells the story of two children who hide in a zoo after closing to watch zookeeper Jack and all the animals dance the night away.
The rewritten lyrics are sure to get kids up and moving to the fun and colorful book and the included song.
“All the animals are watchin’/to see if everyone’s gone./Gettin’ ready to party,/they’re gonna be dancin’ till the dawn.”
The book, vividly illustrated by Tim Bowers, features textured, colorful double-page spreads that bring Loggins’ lyrics to life with fun visuals like a quartet of tutu-clad llamas, a hip DJ elephant spinning albums with forelegs and trunk, and a hippo dressed for a hoedown in white cowboy boots.
This new variation on “Footloose” is easy enough for adults to read aloud, but kids may need to hear the CD to read and establish the rhythm.
Be warned, though, that despite the nighttime setting, this book is not a bedtime story. Because of the high-energy nature of the song and story, Loggins suggests reading it to your kids at least an hour before bed.