Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #20: Olivia Newton-John

I find it hard to believe that hundreds of songs have not been written about Olivia Newton-John. Anyone who was a teenager in the late 70s and became a pop star in the 80s should have written a tribute. The boys because they were in love with her, the girls because she was such a powerful role model.

For example, Juliana Hatfield recorded an entire album of Olivia covers. And it was a truly great record...

Olivia was also occasionally saddled with the "hilarious" nickname Olivia Neutron-Bomb. A nickname that inspired both a professional pillow fighter (thanks, the internet), a musical artist who needs a better publicist as I can't find any information about them at all online, and the following tune from a defunct Glaswegian indie band... 

But what about the lady herself? Well, there weren't nearly as many lyrical tributes as there ought to have been. But here's a handful of note...

I gotta tell you you're the one that I want
They laughed when he
Called you Sandra Dee
They never had a clue
You'd be in Xanadu

If anyone was going to pay tribute to ONJ, it had to be Helen.

Y'all, you need to sing my song
With your similar features like Olivia Newton-John

That's a bit of a rap mouthful right there.

When you feel like London
And you look like Hull
You think Travolta pulled Newton, John
Who did John Hurt pull?

For every second that I wasted, every secret that I told
Every lie I've ever whispered to everyone involved
I couldn't be more sorry about how I got things done
I just want to be John Travolta to Olivia Newton-John

Me dad don't want me coming home late from the disco
And me mum doesn't want me hanging around with the lads
Me brother thinks he looks like John Travolta
And me sister thinks she's Olivia Newton John

When you got them tight pants on
Like Olivia Newton-John
Travolta he's got nothin'
Cuz he don't move like I do

Supercar baseball Abraham Lincoln
Newton John stripe individual projection
801 orange planet tape recorder vinyl bear
And the shirts we wear
Transonic Florida cheerleader set
Ballpoint boyfriend sticker club pet

Shades of Plastic Bertrand from the former Scottish music journo turned J-Pop afficionado.

Summer’s longer when you’re young
Whatever drugs you’re on
I think in June we overdosed
And saw The Wrath of Khan

I swore to god thе girl in front
Was Olivia Newton John
We tried to find hеr manager
And I woke up in the lawn

She says “he bought me a drink and said we should do shots together
Well I don’t know, he’s nice and all but I much prefer Trevor
With his kind-of shy demeanour”
“Ah, yeah, but his dad’s a mentalist”
She says “I don’t care, I want to get myself into this
Oh, how I’d like to lose myself to him, he is the one I know it”
She says “Well if he’s the one
Then I’m Olivia Newton John”
And then she says “Ciara? Won’t you roll a fag for me?
I’m going to make him want me, come on ladies, let’s do

Blimey - he's listened to a lot of early Pulp. In a good way.

LA '86 I quit my diet
And sitting idle
My weight ballooned

Called up Olivia Newton-John
She gave me a job
Selling Akubras at Koala Blue

OK, perhaps I found a few more than a handful. Apart from the Beautiful South and Helen Love tracks, they were all new to me... and with the exception of Busta Rhymes and Robbie Williams, they all bear further investigation. Particularly Avi Vinocur and Laurie Shaw.

However, the song I had in mind when I started this post is the one below. Batley Bob got out the steel drums for this tribute / critique of the 80s workout video craze led by Jane Fonda and soundtracked by Olivia's Physical.

You want her attention
Well you'll have to wait
She's in the gymnasium
Reducing weight

In shorts of a leotard
Despite her age
The girl's gonna exercise
Your life away

Sister don't you jog it all away
Sister don't you run it all off
Sister don't you jog it all away
Sister don't you rough it all up

Hey Olivia Newton-John
What you say?
Hey Olivia Newton-John
What you say?


  1. Radio Clyde are prone to calling her Olivia Newton Mearns after a Glasgow suburb.

    1. Oh, those hilarious local radio jocks...


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