Free to Be... You and Me
May 22, 2007 4:31 AM   Subscribe

The first dot is my favorite.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:32 AM on May 22, 2007

Ah, Good Old Rosie Greer. Football legend, recording artist, needlepoint enthusiast, assassin tackler, and sensitive guy.
posted by jonmc at 4:37 AM on May 22, 2007

I watched the first dot. Surreal. The message of the crying little boy saved by the dandy man with a penchant for woodwinds (NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT) that cause LSD effects was moving. And by "moving" I mean "WTF".
posted by DU at 5:04 AM on May 22, 2007

Methinks you watched the "e"
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:07 AM on May 22, 2007

Judging by Kris Kristofferson, they may have been passing a joint around the "Circle of Friends" (segment M).
posted by liam at 5:19 AM on May 22, 2007

best children's album ever
posted by Flood at 5:20 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I nearly wore this album out as a kid. I still have it, and it still smells faintly like the hamster vitamins I spilled on it in 1978. I brought the "Free to Be" theme song to my summer camp, where I just heard it sung Sunday at a reunion, 20 years later, with as much gusto as ever. I think I can still recite "Boy Meets Girl" and "Atalanta" and used to tell the "I am a tender sweet young thing" story during the storytelling time at one of my programs. A goodhearted and amazing work that only its time could have produced. Thanks for a great post. I'll watch these all here and there as time allows.
posted by Miko at 5:28 AM on May 22, 2007

Miko, I have to respectfully disagree. I personally think this record helped put Reagan in the White House. The dippy earnestness and gooey sentiments on this record reinforce every off-putting touchy-feely stereotype.
posted by jonmc at 5:39 AM on May 22, 2007

Oh my god. It's my childhood on youtube.

I too nearly wore this album out, and I believe I even have the CD somewhere, purchased years ago in a fit of nostalgia. I'm pretty sure I can still remember all the words to oh, the whole thing.

Fantastic. Thank you so much, thirteenkiller.
posted by rtha at 5:42 AM on May 22, 2007

I thought I was still reading YouTube comments, but it's just jonmc.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:43 AM on May 22, 2007

Don't worry East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 , it's OK to cry.
posted by jonmc at 5:45 AM on May 22, 2007

: >
posted by amberglow at 6:29 AM on May 22, 2007

1. I think we've learned that there are worse things that Regan in the WH.

2. I'm pretty sure that Regan never listened to free2be.

3. I'm pretty sure jonmc was emotionally touched by the album, but would rather be cast down into the hottest pit of hell that to admit it.

4. I love it when I'm at work and I can't get youtube and people link to it with no description. Fantastic! That's the kind of thinking that put Bush in the WH.
posted by ewkpates at 6:44 AM on May 22, 2007

I recently listened to some of this, thinking of getting it for my kids. It has not aged well.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:44 AM on May 22, 2007

Strange. I don't remember this, but I know all the lyrics. I'm freakin' out over here!
posted by MotorNeuron at 6:48 AM on May 22, 2007

I listen to all this and raindrops fall from my eyes.
posted by jonjacobmoon at 6:49 AM on May 22, 2007

MetaFilter: smells faintly like the hamster vitamins I spilled on it in 1978.

FWIW, I hated this album when I was a kid. Put on Alan Parsons Project or Tomita or Walter Wendy Carlos and I was happy. Pop this tripe in the 8-track and I was miserable.
posted by Foosnark at 6:57 AM on May 22, 2007

Oh man. I knew this album by heart, although I know I must have seen the special at least once.

I never knew that Mel Brooks was the other baby. WEIRD.
posted by pinky at 7:25 AM on May 22, 2007

Bash as you will. I still like it a lot and I honor the sentiments that lay behind it. I'd gladly replace many of today's mainstream values for those that went into the creation of this time piece.
posted by Miko at 7:28 AM on May 22, 2007

Oh man, I love Tomita.
posted by dammitjim at 7:29 AM on May 22, 2007

another thing - Wayland Flowers designed the puppets. ALSO WEIRD.
posted by pinky at 7:40 AM on May 22, 2007

posted by otherthings_ at 7:43 AM on May 22, 2007

I'm actually glad I never saw the film versions, only had the album. Because I do think the film version is kind of creepy.
posted by Miko at 7:45 AM on May 22, 2007

I remember singing this stuff in class. We listened to the record all the time. As for Rosey Grier, not only was he hot at needlepoint & pretending to strum a tiny guitar, he kicked ASS in The Thing With Two Heads.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:10 AM on May 22, 2007

This was just slightly before my time, I guess, although some of these segments are familiar in other contexts. Glad to finally see it all in one place.

Incidentally, isn't the segment under the "u" actually a Shel Silverstein poem (I think it's entitled "Helping") set to music? Love that guy.
posted by Knicke at 8:32 AM on May 22, 2007

Could very well be, Knicke. Ladies First is Shel Silverstein for sure.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:33 AM on May 22, 2007

Oh my gosh. YAAAAAAAAAY! Marlo Thomas's voice was my favorite.

I always felt sort of bad for the Ladies First girl. Did she really deserve that just because she was a little self-centered?!
posted by dog food sugar at 9:18 AM on May 22, 2007

William wants a doll...

...'cuz someday he
is gonna be
a fahhhhh-ther too!
posted by Fofer at 10:27 AM on May 22, 2007

It's funny how something created to be feminist is now so outdated it's almost sexist.

I found this tape recently and played it for my daughters and they were all like, "Why would people think women can't be doctors? What's with all the whining about hating housework?" This album designed to combat sexist stereotypes seemed to be actually putting some of them in my daughters' heads for the first time.
posted by straight at 10:43 AM on May 22, 2007

Actually, it was the "My Dog is a Plumber" song that really set them off:

So perhaps he's a girl, which kind of make sense,
Since he can't through a ball, and he can't climb a fence.

I think they had actually never heard anyone say girls can't throw balls and climb fences before listening to this tape.
posted by straight at 10:51 AM on May 22, 2007

Well, they'll learn women's history eventually and find out it was truly revolutionary for its time. I felt the same way reading my mom's "Seventeen" magazines from the 60s.
posted by Miko at 10:51 AM on May 22, 2007

..or even recently, upon learning that women's suffragists on hunger strikes were restrained and violently force-fed, in my own grandmother's time. Or that my grandmother hit a glass ceiling in her military career because a female could only be promoted so far. Or that my mother was not sent to college by her parents because they expected her to become a secretary, rather than the newspaper editor she is today. The first step was working toward and receiving her first degree in journalism, at the same time as I was listening to this album.

We've come a long way, baby...but ain't done yet. Continual striving toward equal rights under the law. It's an important part of girls' education to know what came before.
posted by Miko at 10:58 AM on May 22, 2007

I thought I was still reading YouTube comments, but it's just jonmc.

The way you tell them apart is the spelling and coherence of thought.

After a little practice, the discerning eye has no trouble telling them apart.

But I do sometimes get them confused still...
posted by sparkletone at 11:31 AM on May 22, 2007

I had the book and the record. I loved it.

But, like Straight, I found that the progressive lit from that era I had loved was only bewildering to my kids. This is not because it was or is bullshit; it is because some of the changes people were trying to bring about in the 1970s have happened. We are free to be you me, to a much greater extent than our parents were. When I was a girl scout, in an affluent suburb in the 70s-early 80s, my mother was the only mom in the troop who had a real job.

They think it's funny. Women being expected to be only mommies, nurses, or teachers is just another example of the incomprehensible darkness of the pre-modern age -- like no internet or Starbucks. How did people survive?
posted by Methylviolet at 12:21 PM on May 22, 2007

I went to school with most of those kids - much of the live action was shot in Central Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan - crazy!

My other favorite childhood entertainment? Harry Nilsson's "The Point."

Remember that one?
posted by OhPuhLeez at 12:27 PM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

One of my co-teachers and I put on "The Point" as a school play about 10 years ago.

I'll never forget the fun of having 1st through 6th graders chorusing "Poly, poly, poly, sooooo high."
posted by Miko at 1:04 PM on May 22, 2007

I lurve me some Nillson & I LOVE THE POINT. I still listen to it when I'm working sometimes. Best acid-inspired children's songs I've ever heard.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:10 PM on May 22, 2007

The Point RAWKED!

Fie on Dustin Hoffman for not letting his voice be on the soundtrack album, and fie on that car company for nearly ruining "Me and My Arrow"!

Anytime I see a pointy-shaped dog, I think of Arrow.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:35 PM on May 22, 2007

Oh my god!!! This is so freaking awesome! Thanks thirteenkiller!
I've been wanting to hear these again for YEARS. I guess I never saw this animated version, but after 30ahem years all the voices and songs sound perfectly familiar.

A doll! A doll! William wants a doll!


(Is this why I had such a huge crush on Alan Alda during the MASH years?)
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:41 PM on May 22, 2007

Watching Michael Jackson in "I like what I look like" singing "I don't want to change at all" is sort of heartbreaking.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:45 PM on May 22, 2007

I so want to do a jazz version of Think About Your Troubles. I don't know why I love those lyrics so much but as a kid I just thought it was so deep how everything came full circle in it. Plus the whole whale decomposing thing was cool 'cuz it was gross.

Sit beside the breakfast table. Think about your troubles. Pour yourself a cup of tea and think about the bubbles. You can take your teardrops and drop them in a teacup. Take them down to the riverside... and throw them over the side. To be swept up by a current... and taken to the ocean. To be eaten by some fishes... who were eaten by some fishes... and swallowed by a whale. Who grew so old... he decomposed. He died and left his body to the bottom of the ocean. Now everybody knows that when a body decomposes... the basic elements are given back to the ocean. And the sea does what it oughta and soon there's salty water (That's not too good for drinking). 'Cause it tastes just like a teardrop (So they run it through a filter). And it comes out from a faucet (And is poured into a teapot). Which is just about to bubble...
posted by miss lynnster at 2:19 PM on May 22, 2007

I was in a shitty mood today after seeing this post this morning. I'm kind of torn. Through the eyes of cynical, grouchy internet nerds Free to Be You and Me looks like hippie pap. Much of it hasn't aged well and is kind of lame and funny now, in the way that it's so easy to laugh at things, out of context, 30 years later. I'm guilty of that myself, for sure.
But I was a product of this time, going to an "open concept" public school in Toronto in the '70's, watching TVOntario, etc., and I kind of loved it. I loved that we watched stuff like this and had no walls in the school, only lots of striped carpet and tons of books and a listening center with a bank of crazy '70's headphones and Sound Effects records.
My mom was a High School teacher and made my little sister and I record the "Boy Meets Girl" thing on a tape recorder at the time, so she could play it in her class, and by the time I actually went to that same high school 15 years later she was still playing it, much to my early '80's gothy-eyeliner and pointyshoes horror.

They called the open concept schools a 'failed experiment' and put up classroom walls in the 80's, when I was in Junior High School. I'm by no means a hippie but I hope that some of the sentiment in FTBYAM kind of stuck with some of the kids that lived through it. You know, maybe just one kid who didn't like sports so much wasn't called a fag at his school. (Can you imagine "William's Doll" being shown in the US today? Pretty progressive for the time, I think.)
Maybe it did stick a I write this I've been at home raising the kids for 9 years now.
posted by chococat at 4:11 PM on May 22, 2007 [3 favorites]

Thanks, for posting this, it rules. I always loved it. Best kids musiic I think I've ever heard.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:17 PM on May 22, 2007

Holy cow, I had no idea they had made a video of this. I remember my brother and I playing the 78 of this over and over and over...

Thanks for the post.
posted by zardoz at 2:56 AM on May 23, 2007

This is way before my time, but somehow our music teacher still made us sing Free to Be You and Me on a daily basis for nearly an entire year of elementary school (early 90's). Interesting to see it all in context.

Also, watching the first video, the first few creepy seconds of it are just begging to be sampled by someone more musically inclined than I.
posted by saraswati at 4:46 AM on May 23, 2007

chococat, you're not alone at all--i spent 4th grade in an open classroom. Millions of us are still waiting or trying to make this world more like FTB.

The fact that we're going backwards fast is awful.
posted by amberglow at 6:35 AM on May 23, 2007

Is this why I had such a huge crush on Alan Alda during the MASH years?

God, me too. I'm still a sucker for a man in a bathrobe wearing dogtags.

I so want to do a jazz version of Think About Your Troubles.

That's a natural, Miss L. Harry Nilsson - underappreciated, incredibly good.

And, what chococat said.
posted by Miko at 7:42 AM on May 23, 2007

And, what chococat said.
There are many millions of us all around the same age who feel the same. From FTB to Krofft, etc, with the general freedom and openness (and non-focus on us as a group to be catered to and legislated about, etc) we enjoyed during childhood (something not available now to kids in most ways)...

It's like we were brought up to believe in a truly forward and progressive world that just never happened, and has in fact sprung backwards enormously.
posted by amberglow at 8:26 AM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

Y'know... I was just watching that Michael Jackson video and a strange thought came into my head...

Michael Jackson was the Sanjaya of the 1970s. But with more talent & stuff.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:29 AM on May 23, 2007

And amberglow, I agree. I mean... Electric Company! 'Nuff said.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:30 AM on May 23, 2007

Chococat - my cousin probably went to the same or similar schools to you in Toronto in the 70's. Whenever she would describe it to me, it always sounded much more enjoyable than my own public school experience in the US. I remember she was very annoyed because a class near in age to her didn't have to do grade 13, and she did.

(do they still do Grade 13?)
posted by pinky at 9:35 AM on May 23, 2007

I was the last year of Grade 13, then they changed it to OAC's, which were just like senior level courses that you needed 6 of, and could take while in grade 11 or 12 I think. I might be wrong about that. In Grade 13 I somehow managed to have only one or two classes a week for the second semester, which probably wasn't a good idea for someone as unmotivated as I was. Fun times.

Also, I used to have very vivid dreams (I can still remember them) that I was friends with all the kids from Electric Company.
posted by chococat at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2007

Suck it haters. Marlo Thomas was my first crush. This was the first album I ever owned, played on my FisherPrice turntable. WTF do we have for our kids nowadays? 24/7 cartoon network, that's what. I gotta find a copy of this album for my 2 boys. This was one of the best things that came out of the hippie generation.
posted by HyperBlue at 12:56 PM on May 23, 2007

Z double-O M
Box 3-5-0
Bos Ton Mass
Send it to ZOOM!
posted by HyperBlue at 12:58 PM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

"just take your typewriter, pencil or pen,
and if you make a mistake, just do it again!"

: >
posted by amberglow at 2:21 PM on May 23, 2007

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