I think of family and my own childhood much more frequently during the holidays. It starts in early December when we take out the ornaments to put on our Christmas tree. Packed tightly in a box the size of a carry on suitcase are memories of playing records in the living room, chasing my sisters around the house in a game of touched you last, making French Toast with butter and cinnamon sugar, and talking with my mom.
The stories continue with each new holiday card received by mail. Many are from local friends – our current life – but they are sprinkled with reminders of the past. In the 70s was it OK for my sister to play ice-hockey? Was it OK for the high school boy down the street to be our babysitter before my parents both got home from work? Was it OK for me to enjoy singing and sports and school?
Marlo Thomas (1978 photo above by Donn Dughi) released her compilation album “Free To Be You and Me” in 1972. It is an album I listened to many times as a child, as a teenager with baby sisters, as an adult while working in after school programs and now as a father with my own three boys. So when Karen K suggested her version of “When We Grow Up” from her newest album “The Blue Bike Chronicles” for this week’s Throwback Thursday it resonated with me.
I think of our founding CMN members as they raised their children on this album. I think of friends of my generation who are teaching their children how to navigate the world. I think of all the families who continue to struggle with gender inequality. I think of my life choices and am glad that I was raised in a family that encouraged me to follow the path I have chosen.
In listening to this particular version of the song, I think about the two featured vocalists. Karen K and Alastair Moock are both using their musical careers and their platforms on stage to help others with the social justice issues of our times. Both are also deeply committed to their families, their friends and their communities.
Karen K and the Jitterbugs released “The Blue Bike Chronicles” in November, 2016. It is an album that explores the magical in-between years of childhood. Additionally Karen hosts music classes in the Boston area and is the founder of Kids Really Rock.
“Kids really rock has its roots in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. Needing to do something to help heal the city in the wake of the tragic events, Karen Kalafatas (Karen K and the Jitterbugs), with the help of countless willing volunteers, brought together a group of performers, local businesses and other supporters for the One Family Music Festival – a spectacular day of music and entertainment that also collected over $23,000 in donations for the One Fund.”
Alastair Moock has had a long career as a singer / songwriter based in Boston. He is the newest board member of Pickleberry Pie an organization that sends musicians into hospitals and schools for children with special needs. Alastair’s 2013 Grammy nominated children’s album “Singing our Way Through” were a compilation of songs for “The World’s Bravest Kids.” He has also just released a new album for adults. “The songs on Alastair Moock touch on death and love, politics, marriage and family, big universal questions and minute everyday observations.”
I hope that as you wrap up the final weeks of 2017 you will think about your own path, your families, your friends and the communities to which make you who you are. Enjoy your time of reflection as the year winds down. If you do need just a little bit more nostalgia take a look at these two YouTube versions of “When We Grow Up”
The first is the Diana Ross 1972 original recording.
The second is the 1974 TV version with Roberta Flack and Michael Jackson.
Thanks Karen K and Alastair for keeping this song and album in our hearts and minds.