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I think it’s safe to say that most country fans are big on story songs. But I’m also really big on the stories behind those story songs. So Tuesday night (Aug. 27), when I saw Kenny Loggins perform at Chicago’s City Winery, it was the perfect intimate setting for him to share so much more than just his music. And one of the stories he told was about a young Loggins trying to get the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to cut “House at Pooh Corner,” a song he wrote in high school.
“One of the ways you got people to hear your music back then was just playing at parties,” Loggins told the crowd. “And at this particular party that I went to, three of the guys from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were there. They liked the song about the Pooh bear, and they wanted to record it. And I was pretty excited because I’d never had a song recorded before.”
He went on to say that band member John McEuen called him a few days after the party with some bad news.
“He said, ‘Kenny, I hate to tell you this, but we can’t record that song. It appears that that bear is the single most copyrighted sucker in the history of literature because we’ve been getting phone calls every day from the Disney lawyers who want us to cease and desist any music about their bear,’” he said. “I was going out that night and I was kind of depressed, so I told my girlfriend I was bummed because the Disney lawyers put the kibosh on the song. So she said, ‘Disney lawyers? Let me talk to daddy about that.’”
What Loggins didn’t know at the time was that his then-girlfriend, Marnie Walker, was the daughter of the president of Disney.
“Proving once again there is a God,” Loggins said. “We went to her house, I met her daddy and I sat on their living room rug and played him ‘House at Pooh Corner.’ And I remember him looking down at me, looking sad, because he knew he was trapped. So thanks to Marnie and her dad Card Walker. They allowed me to sing this song for years.”
And it allowed the Dirt Band to put the song on their Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy album in 1970. Then Loggins put it on Loggins & Messina’s debut album the following year. And now, more than 40 years later, he still manages to make a song about Winnie the Pooh sound cool.