Looking Back At 40 Years Of 'Free To Be... You And Me'

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If you were a kid in the 1970's, or if you raised kids during that decade, you probably spent time with Free To Be... You And Me. The seminal album and popular television special was jam-packed with catchy songs, but also contained very progressive messages about gender roles, feminism, tolerance and how it's not always easy being a kid.

Later in March, the Paley Center For Media celebrates the LP, the book and television program, so in honor, Soundcheck looks back some of our favorite moments from our three-part series marking the 40th anniversary of the record.

First, we speak with the Emmy Award-winning TV producer Carole Hart, who co-produced the record and the 1974 Afterschool Special by the same name. Hart shares the story behind the album -- and the controversy it engendered. Plus, we hear from cultural historian Lori Rotskoff, who co-edited a new essay collection called When We Were Free To Be: Looking Back at a Children's Classic and the Difference It Made.

Then, we look back at the record's attempt to challenge gender stereotypes and promote tolerance. We explore the impact those now-40-year-old messages had on a generation of children and their parents, as well as the album's limitations. We also examine what child psychologists now believe -- and promote -- when it comes to children and gender. 

And finally, we chat with some of the people behind the music found on the album: Emmy-winning composer Stephen Lawrence, who wrote the album's title track as well as "Sisters and Brothers" and "When We Grow Up" and lyricist and composer Carol Hall, who wrote "Parents Are People," "Glad to Have a Friend Like You" and "It's All Right to Cry."