Earlier today I was listening to a podcast that had a skit involving the classic Olivia Newton John song “Physical”. I remember this song thanks to growing up in the 1980’s and having a face where Olivia and also John Travolta were the coolest people on Earth. This skit had the lyrics to the song spoken clearer that I have ever heard them, or paid attention to, before and wow it’s a dirty song. I had no clue and was shocked. For some reason I thought this song was actually a work out song. Written during the at home fitness craze with leg warmers and Richard Simmons. I honestly thought it was listened to on headphones as motivation to push the body just a little more. Somehow it took all this time to realize its a thinly veiled euphemism.
My biggest defense is some vague memory of the song performed on a show meant for children. Puppets or Disney or one of those ABC specials that takes place at Disney World for no good reason. I was positive it happened, but the internet can be a harsh mistress and typing in Olivia Newton John plus anything I could think of brought up strange strange posts. Many of you out there need help. Thankfully, with a bit of trial and error and thinking outside the box I found my answer. As fate would have it the answer came all the way from, 1983.
I was shocked. This wasn’t planned nor expected. It just, happened. Turns out that I was half right. ONJ did not perform this song with any children’s show characters. But a Muppet that looks suspiciously like her did sing a song all about working out on a little show called Sesame Street.
It’s real close. Close enough that I believe my 5 year old self heard this and the original version and combined the two into a new and real to me memory. Growing up with musicians doing new versions of their hits on the Muppet Show flanked by monsters or singing vegetables means its not a huge leap in logic to think Olivia had done the same.
What surprised me the most is that I did mash things up in my head at that age. The same age where I could tell you who was a good guy and who was a bad guy across multiple cartoons and three Star Wars movies. The same age where my son has to have three storage bins – Avengers, Justice League, and “other”. Crossovers are much more possible now, but back in 1983 most entertainment appeared to be kept in a specific spot and never the two should meet.
I would say there’s no way my son will confuse things like this when he’s older but he’s growing up in a radically different world. Every character he enjoys meets up with another on fan made YouTube videos. It’s unofficial, but what does copyright mean to a five year old? Even official crossovers are no longer fancy, but potentially real. There’s a real good chance of Star Wars crossing over with the Marvel Universe not that far away. In the comics at least, but if that story is good it could be adapted to film. As more and more channels get bought up and absorbed by others the barriers stopping these meetings are falling aside. Who knows maybe one day Cardi B will be on Sesame Street talking about all the things one can eat that start with the letter B. Bread, bananas, butter, soup.