No, I was never a fan of Olivia Newton John, nor am I old enough to recall her stardom in any great detail. I need to mention “Xanadu” at least once here at this blog, however, as it is forever linked in my mind with the summer of 1980.
This song was played endlessly at the beach by sunbathing teenage girls. They mostly went unnoticed by me, as this was the summer before I entered the third grade, and I hadn’t developed much interest in girls just yet. But thinking of this song immediately returns me to the beach again as a little boy. (My parents sent me there with my siblings a lot, something for which retrospect has taught me to feel thankful.)
I have a lot of memories of going to the beach in the early 80’s — burning sand, screaming for the ice cream man, and sidestepping endless arrays of discarded bottlecaps in the gravel parking lot. (The local teenagers must have done a hell of a lot of drinking there; upturned bottlecaps hurt when you stepped on them.) This was also the summer that my friend Brian’s little brother, Brad, erroneously told me that Han Solo died in “The Empire Strikes Back.” (There were no “Episode” prefixes when the first Star Wars films came out.)
There was another hit by John that can transport me back the early 80’s. That would be “Physical,” which was played and sang ubiquitously in 1981 by the girls in my fourth grade class. (I still remember Linda, who lived on the next street, talking about John in awed tones: “A looooot of people think she is beautiful.”)
But I’d prefer not to think of that song, if I can help it. While “Xanadu” is arguably still fun and catchy, “Physical” is best left forgotten.