- Like every person my age who had vaguely hippie-ish parents, I listened to--and loved--Free To Be You and Me as a child. I remember rocking out in my room, with my own record player.
- Once I became not only an adult but also a Women's and Gender Studies professor, I bought a CD version of the album so that I could play select bits for my classes.
- The other day I read a Bitch magazine interview with Rosey Grier, the NFL player who recorded "It's Alright to Cry" for Free To Be You and Me. I realized that I'd never--never! How is this possible?--played any of it for Maybelle. She has an iPod playlist that's 200 songs long, but not one song is from FTBYAM. I then went through a week-long process of trying to find the CD until I realized that it was in my office.
- I brought it home, and one evening when Maybelle and I were hanging out in the living room, I put on the first song, "Free To Be You and Me."
There's a land that I seeThere are rivers that run free in the song, and a green country, and horses. Potentially quite goofy, and yet the first, let's say, ten times I played the song for Maybelle, I cried. Mind you, we also danced: it's an excellent song with a banjo and a rock break-out at the end, and Maybelle and I are both skilled dancers (see some of the pictures from the DSAL holiday party if you doubt me).
where the children are free.
And I say it ain't far
to this land from where we are....
And you and me are free to be
you and me.
But the lyrics hit me at two levels. I remembered them surprisingly well from my own childhood, a time when those lyrics seemed incredibly matter of fact and not the tiniest bit radical. Of course I was free to be whoever I was going to be--that was a foundational assumption in my childhood. Listening to them as a parent, though, a parent of a child who is both female and has a developmental disability, meant that I heard the radical message in a much clearer way. My life's work is very much about creating space where people can reach their full potential, where obstacles and oppressions are removed so that they can be whoever they're meant to be. And I desperately wish for a world where Maybelle is truly free to be herself. We're so much closer to that world now than we were in 1972, when the album was released. But there's still a lot of work to be done.