Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Olivia Newton-John!

 Years before Debbie Harry, my younger self was madly in love with another older blonde -- one born in England but an Aussie through and through. My elementary-school years were spent saving up change to buy Olivia's latest albums -- usually $4.99 at Korevettes -- which I would listen to nonstop on the hi-fi in my family's (unfinished) rec room in the basement of our house on East 13 Mile Road, while dreaming of being with her. She could do no wrong -- from Bob Dylan covers (""If Not for You") and Broadway show tunes ("Don't Cry for Me, Argentina") to the endless list of hits by her writer/producer John Farrar (from "Have You Never Been Mellow," "Don't Stop Believin'," "Hopelessly Devoted to You,: "Magic"). In what was perhaps a prelude to my leaving her for Deb as a teen,  my favorite period of Olivia was her post-"Grease" grown-up look, best exemplified by the "Totally Hot" album in 1979. I just thought Olivia was spectacular -- totally hot, you might say! -- in her leather pants and stiletto heels, and the single "A Little More Love" was as haunting as it was catchy. (And "Boats Against the Current" always made me dream of being in a doomed relationship!) Oddly, by the time "Physical" came out -- her biggest success ever -- I didn't even buy it. (My friend Greg had it so I would just listen to it when I was at his house.) By then I was knee-deep in Debbie, Chrissie Hynde and Romeo Void, and ready for the New Wave invasion that was right around the corner. Happy birthday, Livvy. Your plastic surgery is freaky, but I love you just the same!

P.S. I hear ONJ is touring soon, although Jersey and Long Island seem to be as close as she's getting to the city. I saw her in 2005 and she was a hoot, but I don't think I'd "travel" for a show that included zero songs from my favorite album. (To hear "Deeper Than the Night" live just once ... )

UPDATE: See comments section for surprising set list info!


Anonymous said...

I, too, had a huge crush on ONJ in the Grease era, but the truth of it is that it was really a crush on John Travolta that I just redirected in order to stay a comfortably closeted pre-teen.

Mark said...

Mr. W-I'm seeing her 12/9 in Cleveland. .... And A LITTLE MORE LOVE is on the set list, so I'm told!

Steve said...

Hey Kenneth, there LOTS from Totally Hot on this tour's set list. They are:

A Little More Love
Deeper Than the Night
Boats Against the Current (was never a single so I was stunned to hear this on opening night)

A couple of years ago, her set list included Totally Hot.

Larry said...

OMG, "Boats Against the Current" was one of my favorite songs from "Totally Hot." That's so cool she played that!

Anonymous said...

I was gona say you should start a tweeter campaign for a special request. I'm sure here other fans would join you.

Anonymous said...

ONJ did the call for requests on her facebook page this summer. I missed it, so it was really a surprise when she said during her concert she was going to do 3 ballads she hasn't sung live for a long time if ever: Boats Against the Current, Suspended in Time (from Xanadu), and Shakin' You (from Two of a Kind).


I Honestly Love Her said...

Met her and bf Matt Latanzi, ca 1979, while shopping in Rome. Gave them directions to Armani, then ran into them in a shoe store (him in new olive leather Armani jacket) where we all bought the same unisex boots. Never wore the boots (too fruity), but saved them for 30 years as my "Olivia Newton John" boots. She was lovely to talk to, and neither of us mentioned who she was.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to the concert in Cleveland on Dec. 9, as well...and the set list darn well better include the following :)....
If Not For You
Let Me Be There
If You Love Me Let Me Know
The River's Too Wide
Banks of the Ohio
Take Me Home Country Roads
Have You Never Been Mellow
Make a Move on Me

After that, everything's gravy...