Chris Beland’s “Return To Pooh” is a cover of a Kenny Loggins song. It’s a song inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh, a story about a honey-loving, lovable bear. Loggins has said this story took on an even deeper meaning once he had children of his own. It is Beland’s contribution to the Santa Barbara Records compilation, CaliAmericana, Vol II, and it’s a truly sweet little song.
This compilation is a collection of – you guessed it – Americana artists, comprised of Loggins covers. Americana music covers that middle ground somewhere between folk and country music. It’s intended for typically older folks that still like to explore new sounds; just not the sorts of harsh recordings that appeal to the younger set.
Beland’s recording is simple and true. It’s built upon smartly picked acoustic guitar and Beland’s gentle – at least on this song – singing. It’s perfect for children, as well as the child in all of us.
For those that may have forgotten this story, Winnie-the-Pooh was created by English author A. A. Milne. It’s been written that this character was inspired by a stuffed toy Milne purchased for his son Christopher Robin in a Harrods department store. It’s a series of lighthearted and innocent adventures Pooh and his animal friends find themselves in. Christopher Robin, a real boy, is also one of the characters in these stories.
On a bigger level, this song is a wish for a return to the innocence of Winie-the-Pooh. When we grow up and become adults, the cares of life oftentimes steal away our innocence. We may not know all the trials and tribulations of Beland’s life, but he sure sounds like one who is longing for the childlike wonder this book creates. Is he, like Loggins and Milne, a new dad? Does he think about these cuddly bear tales when watching his son or daughter play? Or does he long for the sort of relationship where Pooh is a central part of his fathering? We don’t know, but we can imagine it.
At some points in the song, Beland’s voice is multi-tracked atop the hushed instrumentation. Beland keeps the instrumentation relatively simple, but his guitar fills always sound perfectly appropriate. Toward the song’s end, Beland just strums soft guitar chords in order to better bring out the song’s heartfelt words.
Kenny Loggins has recorded a lot of different types of music during his career. He’s tracked his share of rock songs and has even been linked to what’s been termed ‘Yacht Rock,’ which is another way of categorizing ‘70s soft rock. Anyone that’s witnessed Loggins in concert, though, knows well that he always sings about Pooh, as well as all his other hits. This story and Loggins’ song about it, have enduring value to many. After all, wouldn’t we all like to escape to a world with kooky animals like Pooh? Of course we would!
Perhaps hearing Chris Beland sing this song will make you want to reread a Milne book or listen to Kenny Loggins sing his Pooh material. This is a smart cover choice, for sure, and sounds extremely good – even when put alongside the master’s original.