Free to Be – Part 2: We Move Forward

I went to Marlo’s apartment for a meeting attended by some of the best writers and playwrights in the business. We all introduced ourselves and I felt somewhat awed by the company I was in. Marlo and Carole spoke about the themes that would underlie all the material on the album. We started brainstorming and ideas flew around the room, one triggering another. The enthusiasm and excitement were palpable. Eventually the meeting ended and most of the participants expressed their interest in being part of this endeavor. A few weeks later I met with Carole and Marlo. They had decided that they want a title song for the album. It would say what the record is about and the music would be cheerful and memorable. Carole suggested that I compose the music and that Bruce write the lyrics and Marlo agreed. Bruce had written the lyrics for the Sesame Street opening song and I looked forward to seeing what he came up with. In a couple of days he phoned and asked if I like the title “Free To Be…You And Me,” and I said “it’s great, charge ahead.” He completed the lyrics quickly and I was eager to get started on the music. As sometimes happens, I got an idea right away and completed the song in one day. Before I decided it was among my best work, I recorded it and listened to it the next morning. As I had hoped, I was very happy with it. I thought people would like it and be able to sing it after hearing it once or twice.

I called Bruce and said I have something I like. I didn’t say I have something that’s perfect. I don’t like to create high expectations when I play and sing a new song for a collaborator. I’d rather let them decide if it’s perfect rather than telling them. Bruce said come on over. He and Carole lived about a block away and I was there in ten minutes. I went to their piano and played and sang “Free to Be….You And Me.” They loved it. Carole asked me to play it again. She phoned Marlo and we set up a meeting for me to play it for her. She loved it too so I was home free.

We talked about who would sing the song. I had had The New Seekers in mind when I composed it. The lead singer, Eve Graham, had a perfect voice for the song, a gentle mid-range sound with an occasional touch of brass. The other singers were a perfect complement for it. I knew their sound because a jingle they sang, “I’d like To Buy The World a Coke,” had gotten a great deal of airplay. They soon recorded a new version of it called “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing,” which was a big hit for them. I spoke to Ms. Graham and set a key for our song and thought about the next step.

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