My family and I do a lot of traveling, so we have a SiriusXM subscription to avoid having to constantly look for radio stations between locations. One of my favorite channels is the 80’s station, which plays a mix of pop hits from that specific era.
While listening during a recent trip, I heard Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Alright,” which was featured on the soundtrack for the movie, Caddyshack (thus the featured image of a groundhog). It’s a catchy, bouncy little number that isn’t all that deep lyrically, but is high-energy and fun to listen to (listen below):
It also sounded very familiar. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it at that moment.
Fast forward a bit, and I had my own playlist going while driving around town. The Gaither Vocal Band came on, and it hit me – “I’m Alright” sounds a lot like “Love Like I’m Leaving.” Or rather, “Love Like I’m Leaving” sounds suspiciously like “I’m Alright.”
Now, I should probably add a little clarification here, because the GVB has actually recorded the song twice – once in 2010 and again in 2019 with a fresh arrangement. Both versions seem to be influenced by the Loggins song – they all have the same basic toms groove, they all start with an acoustic-based chorus with no intro, and they seem to have a similar structure – but it’s the 2019 version in particular that seems to be the bigger culprit.
Let’s start with the 2010 cut. There are a lot of vocal adlibs behind the main melody, which were less prominent in the 2019 version, but it does make it sound similar to Loggins’ own backing ad-libs. This arrangement overall, though, isn’t quite as obvious in its similarities with “I’m Alright,” which is helped by the fact that the vocal arrangement is a bit more elaborate, especially with the harmonies.
The 2019 version, however, seems to be much more forthright in how similar it sounds to the Loggins tune. The harmonies are straight-forward with fewer background ad-libs (making it more apparent that the two songs sound alike), but the true culprit can be heard at the 2:02 mark in the clip below:
Compare that to the almost identical time in the Loggins cut (2:03), and you’ll hear the exact same “stutter” in the arrangement, where it sounds like the chorus starts, followed by a bass step-out. This was actually the part of the song that sealed the deal for me in terms of being “influenced.”
Now, to be fair, there are plenty of other gospel songs that have “borrowed” from secular sources. This is nothing new by any means, and I’m sure the overlap in audience between 1980’s pop and most southern gospel is probably not all that large anyway, so if you can get away with it, why not? Gospel audiences get to hear something they haven’t heard before, and artists/producers/arrangers get to do something outside the box. There are times, however, where it becomes a bit too obvious, especially when such an overlap (however small) does still exist.
So, what say you? The evidence is in…is this just a case of the GVB being inspired by an 80’s pop song, or is it a straight-up rip-off?