Olivia Newton-John hasn't really meant much to me in the past. I never understood the fascination with her body of work. I sort of loathed "Grease" growing up and only recently was able to appreciate the over-the-top kitsch of "Xanadu". Other than her 80's aerobic disco hit, "Physical", I assumed her music catalog was total rubbish. But for some reason her likeness and sound is always close to me, in a sort of 6 degrees of separation kind of way. I have my neighborhood gay karaoke bar to thank for most of it, but at home I'm consistently reminded of her. The image you see above is actually hanging in my living room. A few years ago I found an LP at a thrift store that randomly had 3 fold-out original posters of Olivia in the case. I had just moved into a new place and needed stuff to hang on the walls, so making a collage with this image seemed like a no-brainer. I felt strange creating an homage to an artist I didn't really appreciate, but it was really just kitsch for kitsch sake. So, Olivia's been on my wall looking over me like a catholic Jesus painting for years now, going relatively unnoticed and collecting dust. Little did I know that this image was going to mean something to me later in a totally different light.
A few months ago one of my favorite video blogs, Videothunder, turned me onto this amazing film called "The Beaver Trilogy". My words can't adequately describe how beautiful and bizarre this film is. The story starts out like a documentary as a TV cameraman comes across a lonely, attention starved local yokel (Groovin' Gary) with a strong desire to share his Olivia Newton-John impression with the world. As you can imagine, the movie goes downhill from almost the very start. What really makes this interesting is the unflinching eye of the camera as the absurdity of this story unfolds. This movie is essentially 3 different takes on the same story. The second and third installment of this film feature Sean Penn and Crispin Glover reprising the role of "Groovin' Gary" as they impersonate the impersonator's impression of Olivia. Convoluted enough for you? These performances have to be seen if you're a fan of either actor, especially Crispin Glover's portrayal. Probably my favorite piece he's ever done. I don't know, there's something about this repetition of theme, a story within a story, that really speaks to me. I really find it strange that I found a song I like from Olivia Newton-John because of a horrendous impression of an impersonator. I haven't been able to get this song out of my head. My brain keeps bouncing back and forth between the different takes on this beautiful song. So now when I listen to Olivia, I think of this movie, these dudes, and the picture on my wall. Sort of a Holy Trinity if you will. I'm not one to repeat songs much in a playlist, but this one has been going back to back for a while now. I can't get enough of this track
Olivia Newton-John - Please Don't Keep Me Waiting
I highly recommend grabbing "The Beaver Trilogy", especially if you like movies that are quintessentially kitsch. The movie can be found here in .rar rapidshare form. I'll leave you with a highlight from Crispin's performance which will hopefully entice you to investigate further.