Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Being alive's her only crime

This is one of my all time favorite Olivia Newton-John songs, one that is sadly been mostly forgotten.

"Livin' In Desperate Times" is such a product of its time it's not even funny. Those cheesy 80s synths, her incredibly large hair, and odds are good that there are some shoulder pads underneath that blue coat. But oddly enough, I think it plays very well now, probably due to the fact that it was not overplayed like "Physical" (which I can only really listen to in its - as Olivia refers to it now - "age appropriate version.") and some of her other more popular songs. I have particularly been enjoying the extended remix (which I have as a vinyl rip) because the version from the CD release of the soundtrack of Two of a Kind is heinously edited.

While the song is great, the movie it comes from is pretty horrible. Two of a Kind was the hotly anticipated on-screen reunion with John Travolta, but the storyline involving an angry God bent on destroying the world unless angels portrayed by Scatman Crothers, Beatrice Straight and Charles Durning can find two honest souls is just God-awful. The dialogue is horrible and while they do their best with what they have, this is not a high point for either Travolta or Olivia. But do you think that stopped me? Heck no. I saw it at least twice in the theater and countless times on HBO.

This song was kind of the beginning of the end for Olivia. Her hitmaking days were at this point rapidly coming to a close. She'd squeak a top 20 hit out of "Soul Kiss" but nothing since then. And it hasn't been for lack of trying. In 1992, she released a retrospective with 4 new songs, fully intending to tour and make a comeback, only to be sidelined by breast cancer. "I Need Love" (to make the sex right) was one of those songs.

Fortunately, Olivia survived her brush with cancer and has toured extensively in recent years. She's a great live act and one I would see again in a heartbeat!

("Twist of Fate" was the bigger hit from this project for Olivia. Whenever I play it, Heidi gets it stuck in her head.)


John said...

The intro of "Desperate Times" is so horrible, I almost didn't make it to the great chorus. And I completely forgot about the remix of "I Need Love". Great tracks!

Dan said...

If you're talking about the opening instrumental, yes, I'll agree, it's kind of hard to take, but I think the verse is okay. The chorus, however, is what does it.

The other song from the "I Need Love" era that I really like is "Deeper than a River" which rather inexplicably got an "urban mix."

Adem With An E said...

I love "Livin' In Desperate Times" as well; my bff Ben and I have danced drunken to it quite often much to the dismay of everyone else.

I'm also BIG on "Please Don't Keep Me Waiting"...

Dan said...

I LOVE "Please Don't Keep Me Waiting" - that last 2 minutes of screeching is just hilarious!

Yuяi said...

Wow, I love both Twist of Fate and Livin' in Desperate Times. True, they both sound a bit dated now, but hell that doesn't stop me from hitting repeat. I don't think I've ever seen the movie all the way through - it was that bad! LOL

inkgrrl said...

I remember that song, video, and hairstyle. Do you know how much hairspray I needed for that hairdo? Especially when we all ska'ed to anything that resembled fast tempo. Not easy to keep the 'do looking hot.