Photo by: Rav Holly. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are releasing an album, 'This Christmas,' on Nov. 13.
by Marco R. della Cava, USA TODAY
You can't quite picture Pulp Fiction's Vincent Vega doing this, but Get Shorty's Chili Palmer just might share the addiction.
"My family and I go to Maine for the holidays, and from Dec. 1 until Jan. 1 there is nothing but Christmas music being played, all day and every night," says John Travolta. "We have a very Christmasy house."
It was there that Travolta, 58, hatched the idea to reunite with his Grease co-star Olivia Newton-John, 64, for an album of holiday staples, swapping text messages with the Australian singer until the two had agreed to corral friends for a project that would benefit their two favorite charities.
"I thought, I'm listening to Johnny Mathias and Frank Sinatra doing it, why can't we do it?" says Travolta.
Out Nov. 13, This Christmas features the two friends joined by pals Barbra Streisand (I'll Be Home for Christmas), Tony Bennett (Winter Wonderland), James Taylor (Deck the Halls) and Newton-John's mentor, British legend Cliff Richard (Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas).
There's also a new track, I Think You Might Like It, written by John Farrar, who wrote the duo's 1978 Grease smash, You're the One That I Want. The new song opens with sleigh bells before breaking into a modern pop trot. What the song seems to propose is that Sandy and Danny have met up a few decades later around the holidays and still sizzle for each other.
The tune deftly takes advantage of both that Grease-era harmonizing the stars used to great effect, as well as a bit of their cheeky repartee (when Travolta sings, "I've got a little plan for you," Newton-John purrs, "I like it").
"I've traveled a lot this year, and wherever I go, people look around to see if John's with me," says Newton-John, noting that the duo has stayed in regular contact over the decades. "It's an amazing association people have, us being together."
Adds Travolta, "We represented something in their childhood that meant so much to them. So hearing us together again, even if the subject matter is different, should strike a note for people."
Travolta -- whose singing experience ranges from early days in Broadway musicals to a turn as Edna Turnblad in the film Hairspray -- says the spirit of the holidays inspired the two to finance the album themselves and split the proceeds between the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne (she's a breast cancer survivor) and the Jett Travolta Foundation (Travolta's son died in 2009 at age 16 from injuries sustained during a seizure), which works with children with disabilities.
"Christmas is about giving," he says.
And for the singers, it's also about making a few childhood dreams come true.
"All the people John wanted to get on the album were also people I loved," says Newton-John, who recorded the tracks with Travolta in a half-dozen studios in Florida and California. The guest stars added their touches separately.
"That's a good thing," says Newton-John, giggling. "If they'd been in the room with us, I don't think I'd have been able to sing a thing."
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