#86 – “Free To Be You And Me” (2006)

[audio http://www.tmbg.com/_media/_pod/TMBGPodcast6A.mp3]

[“Free To Be You And Me” starts at 4 minutes, 24 seconds into podcast.]

L.K.: I know TMBG has done a lot of covers, but I feel like we are getting a disproportionately large number of them relative to originals.

A.S.: I dunno, we haven’t had any in a while.
A.S.: Oh yeah. Well. They do a fair number of covers!
L.K.: I guess I was wrong though, lately we haven’t had too many, but earlier on I feel like we were getting a lot there for a while.
A.S.: Maybe slightly more than proportionate, but we can’t trust the shuffle to run on proportions, eh?
L.K.: But yeah, this is a very short little podcast-exclusive cover.
A.S.: Yep, a 30-second little ditty.  Takes the tempo of the original up a few notches.
L.K.: More pop-rocky and less mellow mid-70s hippie-y.
A.S.: Yep. The original, performed by Marlo Thomas is from a 1974 TV special for children featuring a whole buttload of famous people.
L.K.: I can only assume the Johns wouldn’t have watched the special when it aired because a 14-year-old wouldn’t want to watch some dorky children’s thing. They were definitely at least aware of it though.
A.S.: Although the people in it could draw a lot of people outside of its target audience – Michael Jackson, Mel Brooks, Alan Alda, Harry Belafonte, Roberta Flack, Dionne Warwick, Tommy Smothers… Apparently Dustin Hoffman was in scenes that got deleted, too. I remember being aware of this special when I was really getting into Mel Brooks when I was younger, although I’ve never seen it, which isn’t very helpful…
L.K.: You know, a few years before this song was released on a podcast, one of the Johns remarked that the song “Impossible” (from the “Bed Bed Bed” companion CD) was sort of their “low-rent version of ‘Free To Be You And Me'”, so the song seems to have been on their minds at least as of when they started doing children’s music.
A.S.: I imagine they drew inspiration from this, much as they had from The Banana Splits – 60s and 70s kids songs that really any pop geek can enjoy on some level.
L.K.: Yep, I was just going to bring up The Banana Splits cover as another parallel. Lots of new covers of old songs in the glory days of the TMBG podcast. Interesting.
A.S.: Hopefully there will be at least one more in the new batch…
L.K.: Maybe they figured the podcast was just a good vehicle for that sort of thing. Stuff they wouldn’t really have an excuse to do otherwise.
A.S.: Oh absolutely.  Like most bands since the mid-60s, they tend to avoid putting covers on actual LPs, with a few exceptions. But they can’t resist the urge to record other people’s’ songs anyway, so the podcast is the perfect outlet for that.
L.K.: I feel like TMBG has probably been bitten in the ass a bit every time they stick a cover on an album and it winds up eclipsing the songs they’ve written themselves in popularity, but that is a discussion better saved for “Istanbul” or “New York City”.
A.S.: True, true.  As for “Free To Be You And Me”, here’s a little cover that is very easy to ignore, given that it just comes and goes by on an early podcast, but it’s still thirty seconds of fun (expert musicological analysis).

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