Thursday, January 20, 2011

There's a Land That I See...

As you may have noticed, I am unabashedly nostalgic for the pop culture of my childhood. Something about watching an old commercial or television program, or hearing a song I remember from the 70s or 80s often takes me right back to the simpler days.

There are few things that remind of my childhood more than Free to Be, You and Me. A book and record album released in 1972, subsequently followed by a 1974 television special, this was a project of Marlo Thomas that used songs, stories and poetry to teach children that, regardless of gender, they could achieve anything and everything. It also sought to break down many of the gender-related stereotypes of the day.

The record featured contributions from Thomas and celebrities of the day, including Alan Alda, Carol Channing, Mel Brooks, Dick Cavett, Diana Ross, Dick Smothers, Robert Morse, Shirley Jones, Jack Cassidy and, with the classic song It's All Right to Cry, football player Rosey Grier.

Not only do I remember the album and television special vividly (I've told you before, I'm an utter savant when it comes to this stuff), but I had the opportunity to perform in a version of the show while at summer camp in 1981. I was part of two "skits"—The Pain and the Great One, which was a back and forth between a brother and sister, and The Southpaw, about two feuding friends. I actually caught the chicken pox during rehearsals but was recovered enough to perform before having to head back to the camp infirmary.

Even if the music may seem a little dated now—and you should have seen the look on a few of my colleagues' faces when William's Doll came on my iPod yesterday afternoon—the message is one we all could benefit from, no matter how old we are.

After all, if Marlo Thomas tells you that you can be anything you want to be, you should listen. She's That Girl, after all!

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