Friends, as I was headed out the door to work this evening I noticed a text from Earl Green, it turns out that today 40 years ago was the debut of Xanadu. As I mentioned with that article on the Olivia Newton-John television special a couple of weeks back – the first time I was introduced to the singer turned actress was with 1978’s film adaptation of Grease. It was Xanadu however that I really fell in love with – thanks of course to the work of not just Olivia but Gene Kelly (On the Town, Singin’ in the Rain) and Michael Beck (The Warriors). If I am being honest however a lot of my fondness for this cult film is courtesy of the amazing soundtrack – which features the likes of The Tubes, Cliff Richard, Olivia Newton-John, and of course ELO. And while it is true that the film was not readily accepted when it was originally released 40 years ago – the soundtrack did big numbers… all over the World.
For what it is worth, my Father and I were sitting in our car at the local Drive-In 40 years ago tonight to catch the film… it was pretty obvious and rather quickly that I was enjoying it far more than he was. In fact that might have been the point, at the wise old age of 8, that I realized musicals were not my Father’s favorite genre. I can still remember how loud he groaned when sitting in the auditorium of a local movie theater six years later when he realized that Little Shop of Horrors was going to be a musical. Having said that – I found it extremely curious that he didn’t have a problem when I would play the soundtrack to either the 1986 horror/comedy or Xanadu at home.
Now another reason that Xanadu blew me away on this night 40 years ago was thanks to what at that point might have been the most beautiful animation I had ever seen. I’m referring to the Don Bluth studio animated segment featuring the Electric Light Orchestra‘s equally moving Don’t Walk Away.
So here is to the 40th anniversary of Xanadu – may it’s neon lights never cease shining.