WEYBURN - This is going to date me somewhat, but when I was growing up in the 70s, I would occasionally have a crush on a singer or actress. (Please don’t tell my wife …)
Linda Ronstadt was one of those I had a crush on, and I adored Karen Carpenter’s beautiful alto voice. A voice teacher told our class once that she had the best control of her voice of almost any singer he had ever heard.
Another crush was Olivia Newton-John, who just passed away on Monday of cancer.
I loved her voice, long before she was cast as Sandy in the movie version of “Grease”, opposite John Travolta.
There was just something so sweet about her voice as she sang “Have You Never Been Mellow?”, or “I Honestly Love You”, which was reportedly one of her favourite songs.
I could sing the bass part in “Let Me Be There”, and I liked her version of “If Not For You” on one of her earliest albums.
If you tell Millenials or 20-somethings about her songs, they won’t know what you’re talking about – but they know the movie.
When Grease came out, I went to see it at a drive-in, one of the few movies I saw in that format, and it was a real treat to see one of my favourite singers on the screen.
I think my favourite song of hers from the movie was “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, although the radio play at the time made a big deal of her duet with Travolta.
Some people weren’t impressed with her dancing in the skin-tight black pants, but a lot of guys loved seeing her go over to a “bad girl” image.
This led to her popularity with songs like “Physical”, which I didn’t really like. Call me old-fashioned, but I liked the other songs better.
Now, as Olivia got older, she was the consummate performer and became a tough cancer fighter, after having three battles with the disease before it finally claimed her life.
I appreciated her attitude and positivity and the comment she made that everyone has a challenge or a fight in their lives, and hers happened to be with cancer.
She set up a foundation in her home country of Australia for fighting cancer, and that’s possibly one of the greatest legacies of her fame aside from her body of work as a singer.