3 Lessons Olivia Newton-John Taught Me About Music

My default image for Olivia Newton-John is the mid-1970s. A long, flowing floral dress. Long, light brown hair in the center. Big curious eyes. And, when asked for, a charming smile perfect for the cover of TV Week.

The counterculture seemed to pass by her.

But even in my mainstream heyday, when I was perceived as rejecting my hippie- and punk-inspired (imaginary, toothless) society, I respected Olivia. A figure that was ubiquitous in popular culture for the first two decades of .

There was something about her voice, the way she sang. There was always a personal charm to her songs, through her phrasing and her tone.

Like heatstroke from December to February, Olivia was part of the Australian landscape. This country didn’t feel the slightest hostility for her being there – or beamed there from the northern hemisphere while we claimed her as “ours.” rice field.

I had an older sister who understood and sympathized with me.

read more: Pop icon Olivia Newton-John was one of the few performers whose career blossomed through different stages.

1. What She Taught Me About Murder

Despite all this, Olivia contributed to the loss of innocence.

Some of us are unlucky enough to personally encounter death as children. The rest can be songs, TV shows, passing remarks, or news items.

A recording of the Newton-John folk ballad Banks of the Ohio was released in 1971. This is about the main character luring his beloved into the river and piercing her heart.

I can’t think of any earlier exposure to the concept of death, let alone murder. It is reminiscent of the soft sound of a portable AM ​​radio. I have forever associated ONJ honeytones with the instinctive realization that one human being can knowingly kill another.

Heavy metal and hip-hop are traditional punching bags for parents who worry about harmful content. But people are letting their guard down around ONJs.

2. What I learned through the cover band

Shaggin’ Wagon, my cover band instigated circa 1993, did what the label said: rocked the hell out of 1970s tunes.

We are Big Star, Soft Boys, Decibels, The Sweet and Abba.

Hard rock like Kiss, Alice Cooper and Australian artists like The Numbers, Models and Dragon were always scattered about. The repertoire was ever-changing, but it delighted large crowds to bring House down.

One of mine as a part-time singer was hopelessly devoted to you. What started out as a half-joke I gladly accepted. It’s a great song, with a nice change of key from A major on the verses through a devastating G minor chord to F major on the chorus.

“There’s nowhere to hide,” makes the hero nod to the pathetic chords.

I started looking for other Olivia songs. I picked up 45 from A Little More Love and found it to be a masterpiece of sorts. Like Hopeless, it was composed by longtime Newton-John collaborator John Farrar.

This is another beautifully composed song, somewhat like a maze. It still excites me to play the guitar.

Despite my party trick of being able to hit a high F at the end of Hopeless (usually), it was beyond me to maintain the upper octave needed for the chorus of A Little More Love.

This attempt taught me more about the technical demands that Olivia shrugged. She had such a wide range that she could not play low verses or high choruses, no matter how many transpositions she performed.

I already knew she was superior, and I would never claim to be anywhere near the ONJ league.

3. What she taught me about the girl next door

Olivia wasn’t entirely sure about Physical. She loved the song, but she wondered.

The main character, who is tired of cheating and playing games, goes to the main topic, saying, “I can’t talk about it unless I’m sideways.”

record banned in Utah When South Africa Because of its explicit content (!). The video fanned the flames even more, ending with a final “gay scene” (two guys exiting the gym holding hands).

Every controversy further hyped a superlative pop record. Physical topped the US charts for her 10th straight week in 1981, making her one of the biggest songs of the decade. If Physical wasn’t enough, the next single was Make a Move On Me.

It is permissible to perceive the theme.

The album Physical is more than the veteran pop star challenges himself to a slightly more dangerous persona. None of her six images of Newton-John on the cover feature her staring into the camera or even opening her eyes.

Since she does not challenge cameras or voyeurs in direct line of sight, it may appear that she is offering herself as an object to be consumed. An assumption along this line of reasoning is that she is taking advantage of the male gaze.

I think it’s more plausible to think that she was lost in the body. The viewer, the whole world outside her bodily sensations, is irrelevant.

Despite the fact that music is still very accessible, she does not seek approval from her audience.

From country music radio, from her image as the girl next door before 1978, from a certain level of conservatism in her audience, Physical is a definitive statement of independence.

She cut her hair too.

Author: John Encarnacao – Musician, Lecturer, Western Sydney University

3 Lessons Olivia Newton-John Taught Me About Music

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