If you went to elementary school way back in the in the 1970's, there were only a handful of things to do on rainy days when you had to stay in at recess.

There was the game where everyone stood on top of their desks and threw a ball to each other until someone dropped it (they they were out and had to sit down) or fell off their desk (then both the thrower and the catcher had to sit - this prevented people slamming the ball into each other).

Then there was Heads Up 7Up but that got old fast during the rainy season. So what was a teacher to do? I'll tell ya!

Unroll that ole reflective screen over the chalkboard and break out the projector! And what did we get to watch in that carefree Me decade? Well, a little Hemo the Magnificent, a little Apple Dumpling Gang but oh, oh kids nothing could compare to the buzz generated by the Holy Grail of elementary educational programming in the 1970’s…

Free To Be. . . You and Me!!!

First aired March 11, 1974 on ABC-TV, it earned an18.6 rating/27 share (that was really really good back then).

It starred Marlo Thomas, Alan Alda, Harry Belafonte, Mel Brooks, Rita Coolidge, Roberta Flack, Michael Jackson (perhaps the show’s most surreal moment is Jackson singing the song "When we Grow Up" – a song about accepting your looks just they way they are), Kris Kristofferson, The Smothers Brothers, Cicely Tyson, Carol Channing, Rosey Grier (big burly football player singing “It’s All Right to Cry”), Rafer Johnson, and Shirley Jones .

The theme song is best sung, like most grade school self esteem boosting anthems, at the top of ones lungs and from the bottom of ones heart. Here we go:

There's a land that I see
Where the children are free,
And I say it ain't far
To this land from where we are.

Take my hand, come with me,
Where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live...

In a land where the river runs free,
In a land through the green country,
In a land with a shining sea,
And you and me are free to be... you and me.

I see a land bright and clear
And the time's coming near,
When we'll live in this land
You and me, hand in hand.

Take my hand, come along,
Lend your voice to my song
Come along, take my hand, sing a song...

For a land where the river runs free,
For a land through the green country,
For a land to the shining sea,
For a land where the horses run free,
And you and me are free to be... you and me.

Every boy in this land
Grows to be his own man.
In this land, every girl
Grows to be her own woman

Take my hand, come with me,
Where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll run....

To a land where the river runs free,
To a land through the green country,
To a land to a shining sea,
To a land where the horses run free,
To a land where the children are free,
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be... you and me.

You and me...
You and me..
You and me...
And you and me are free to be you and me.

Free to Be ... You and Me was an album by Marlo Thomas and friends released in 1972 by Arista records.

Thomas decided to make the album when confronted by the fact that books and music at the time presented a very limited range of possibilities for what boys and girls could aspire to. She describes this motivation in the liner notes:

Making records is not my usual business, but this is not a business project. It's personal; as personal to me as my niece Dionne who started the whole thing. She wanted a bedtime story read to her, and I was saddened to find that all of her books did just that; put her and her mind to sleep. I started to look through stores and found, with few exceptions, shelf after shelf of books and records, for boys and girls, that charmingly dictated who and what they must be, colorfully directing new minds away from their own uniqueness
I wanted something for her next birthday, something to celebrate who she was and who she could be, all the possibilities and all the possible Dionnes. That's how it started, but it has, as you can see, turned out to involve a lot more than one doting aunt and one little girl. I found that many of my friends felt the same frustration for the children they loved, and happily donated their talents to this idea - an album of stories and songs to help girls and boys feel free to be who they are and who they want to be.
I hope you enjoy it. It was made with hope and love. So, Happy Birthday, Dionne. Blow out the candles and make a wish. Any wish.

Free to Be... became a classic. It sold 500,000 copies and inspired a companion book, which became a best seller, as well as an Emmy Award winning TV version. The songs and stories were catchy, fun, and wise. A generation grew up hearing that "It's all right to cry" and "mommies can be almost anything they want to be." The album is still popular, as the children who grew up with it introduce it to their children today.

The album was produced by Carole Hart, with music produced by Stephen Lawrence and Bruce Hart, stories and poems Directed by Alan Alda. Proceeds went to the Ms. Foundation for Women.

The tracks on the album are:

  1. Free To Be... You And Me
    Music by Stephen Lawrence, Lyrics by Bruce Hart
    Performed by The New Seekers
  2. Boy Meets Girl
    Written by Carl Reiner and Peter Stone
    Performed by Mel Brooks and Marlo Thomas
    Two new babies try to decide who's the boy and who's the girl:
    "You, that's easy -- you're a boy."
    ... "Why, what do I look like?"
    "You're bald."
  3. When We Grow Up
    Music by Stephen Lawrence, Lyrics by Shelley Miller
    Performed by Diana Ross
  4. Don't Dress Your Cat In An Apron
    Performed by Billy De Wolfe
  5. Parents Are People
    Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall
    Performed by Harry Belafonte and Marlo Thomas
  6. Housework
    Performed by Carol Channing
  7. Helping
    Written by Shel Silverstein
    Performed by Tom Smothers
    "...And some kind of help is the kind of help we all can do without."
  8. Ladies First
    Performed by Marlo Thomas
    "I am a tender sweet young thing."
  9. Dudley Pippin And The Principal
    Performed by Billy De Wolfe, Bobby Morse, and Marlo Thomas
  10. It's All Right To Cry
    Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall
    Performed by Rosey Grier
    "Crying gets the sad out of you."
  11. Sister And Brothers
    Music by Stephen Lawrence, Lyrics by Bruce Hart
    Performed by Sisters and Brothers
  12. My Dog Is A Plumber
    Performed by Dick Cavett
  13. William's Doll
    Music by Mary Rodgers, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
    Performed by Alan Alda and Marlo Thomas
  14. Atalanta
    Performed by Alan Alda and Marlo Thomas
  15. Grandma
    Performed by Diana Sands
  16. Girl Land
    Music by Mary Rodgers, Lyrics by Bruce Hart
    Performed by Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones
  17. Dudley Pippin And His No-Friend
    Performed by Bobby Morse, and Marlo Thomas
  18. Glad To Have A Friend Like You
    Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall
    Performed by Marlo Thomas

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