Free to Be…You and Me

Gender stereotypes? Weren’t they paying attention all of those times I played them Free to Be…You and Me?
Female voice:
They're closing' down Girl Land
Some say it's a shame.
It used to be busy,
Then nobody came.

Ringmaster voice:
Welcome to Girl Land, my good little girls
Admission's a wink, and a toss of your curls
There's fun for all, from eight to eighty
You go in a girl and you come out a lady...

Wonderful Girl Land...
The island of joys!
Where good little girls
Pick up after the boys

So, come on in… and look about…
You go in a girl,
And you never GET OUT!! HaHa!....

Female voice:
And soon, in a park that was Girl Land before
You'll do what you like, and you'll be who you are
As you wander in, and wander out
And pretty soon, forget all about

Girl Land, Girl Land, beautiful Girl Land

Girl Land” “Wiliam’s Doll” “Don’t Dress Your Cat in an Apron,” and “Lady’s First” (which our daughter remembers terrified her) are just some of the songs on the Marlo Thomas’s children’s record Free to Be…You and Me, which she produced just over 50 years ago. Our daughter was 1 1/2 years old when it came out – November of 1972. Our son was not even a blip on the horizon. We bought the LP – and it was played over…and over…and over in our home – for many years to come. Andy, au contraire, says he doesn’t remember hearing it played that much. Could that be because he was at work – while I was at home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids? 🙂 To Andy’s credit, he does remember spending “quality” time playing a game with our grandkids that could have corrupted their moral fiber. You can learn about all of that in today’s Andy’s Corner.

Listen to the song “Free to Be…You and Me” (by the New Seekers) here

Marlo Thomas remembers that when she was planning the album she “gathered these people around and I said to them, if you could have anything said to you in your childhood, what would you have wanted it to be? And Herb Gardner said, ‘I would’ve liked to have been told that it was all right for a boy to cry.’ And I said, I would’ve liked to have been told that at the end of every fairy tale, the girl, the princess, doesn’t have to marry the prince and that she doesn’t have to be a blonde all the time.”

You’ll get a huge kick out of watching this: It’s All Right to Cry. Rosey Grier – played pro football (NY Giants and LA Rams -1955 -1967; took away the weapon from the assassin Sirhan Sirhan – 1968; sang “It’s All Right to Cry” for Free to Be…You and Me – 1972; wrote the book Needlepoint for Men – 1973.

The song that got me fixated on the topic of freedom is “Baraye,” which means “for” or “because of” in Farsi. Written and sung by Shervin Hajipour, the 25-year-old Iranian who won a 2023 Grammy for Best Song for Social Change, the song repeats messages posted online regarding protests in Iran. Hajipour was arrested in Iran after the song’s release but later parolled. One of the concluding lines – “For women, life, freedom” has become a rallying cry in Iran – and elsewhere.

Freedom. Without getting overly-philosophical but acknowledging that “freedom” is a pretty complex topic, I think FDR’s hand-written note about the Four Freedoms is worth a read. He wrote it as he prepared to give his January 1941 State of the Union address to Congress. “Freedom from fear” would be very high on my list.

Freedom. Just as I was dancing through the house singing “you and me are free to be you and me” Andy casually suggested that I might want to delve a little deeper into the subject and re-watch this video from 1980’s The Blues Brothers. Aretha Franklin’s hysterically-funny song and dance is entitled “Think” – but it might as well have been named “Think about Freedom.” Mrs. Murphy, Aretha’s character, freaks out when her husband, a blues guitarist, announces he’s leaving and rejoining Jake and Elwood’s Band.

Here’s a link to the lyrics. And here’s one of the best lines: You need me (need me);And I need you (don’t you know); Without each other there ain’t nothing people can do, oh.

Freedom. Jon Batiste’s 2021 video Freedom is a far cry from the humanitarian intensity of “Baraye” or the political philosophizing of FDR or the sassy feminism of Aretha Franklin, but it’s the perfect ending for my blog. N’awlins. Upbeat. Fun. And on point. I think I may be in love with Jon Batiste.

I just reminded myself that this is a food/life blog, not a music/dance/life blog. For the food aspect of today’s blog – freedom wins again. Freedom to make a recipe into what you want and like. Freedom to add to, take away, make it yours. We’ve got the basic lentil soup – but you can make it Persian or Creole or be wild and crazy and go for German or Mexican. You can make it vegetarian or vegan – or not. Be free.

Creole Lentil Soup

Free to Be Lentil Soup

This recipe is easily halved – but why not make the whole thing and freeze some for later? Make it vegan/vegetarian by using vegetable rather than chicken broth. Make variations as suggested below. Be free.

  • 3 T olive oil or ghee
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 -3 carrots, diced
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, diced (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 16 oz (about 2 1/4 c) brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 8 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2-4 cups water
  • salt to taste (I suggest you add 1 tsp before simmering – and then add more, if necessary, when the soup is ready to serve)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 T lemon juice added before serving, optional
  • 3 c chopped fresh spinach, optional
  • additional water or broth, if consistency needs to be more soupy
  • parsley to serve, optional

Heat the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic; cook and stir until they’re tender. Add the tomato paste, lentils, broth, water, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, stir well to mix in the tomato paste, reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for about 45 minutes. Add more water or broth if necessary. About 5 minutes before the soup is done, stir in the lemon juice and spinach, if you’re using it. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley


Persian/IranianAdasi: add 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp turmeric, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon; sprinkle with feta when serving; serve it for breakfast, if you want to be authentic.

Creole – Andouille Lentil Soup: fry 1/2 pound of Andouille sausage (halve them length-wise, then slice into 1/2″ pieces) until most of the fat has been rendered; drain excess fat; add the vegetable mixture and saute until the veggies are soft; add 2 tsp Tony’s Creole Seasoning.

German – Linsensuppe: fry 1/2 lb of diced bacon until partially cooked, then add about 1 lb of diced potatoes and the vegetables and saute until the veggies are soft. Add 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp dried thyme.

Mexican – Sopa de Lentejas: fry 1/2 lb of Mexican chorizo until almost cooked, then add the vegetable mixture and continue cooking until the veggies are soft. Add 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp Mexican oregano, and 1/2 -1 tsp Ancho chile powder. Serve with Mexican crema with a little lime juice stirred in.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

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