Thursday, August 2, 2018


Wikipedia - Little Boxes

"Little Boxes" is a song written and composed by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963, when he released his cover version.

The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia, and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It mocks suburban tract housing as "little boxes" of different colors "all made out of ticky-tacky", and which "all look just the same." "Ticky-tacky" is a reference to the shoddy material supposedly used in the construction of the houses.

Reynolds was a folk singer-songwriter and political activist in the 1960s and 1970s. Nancy Reynolds, her daughter, explained that her mother wrote the song after seeing the housing developments around Daly City, California, built in the post-war era by Henry Doelger, particularly the neighborhood of Westlake.

Reynolds' version was first released on her 1967 Columbia Records album Malvina Reynolds Sings the Truth, and can also be found on the SmithsonianFolkways Records 2000 CD re-issue of Ear To The Ground. However, Pete Seeger's rendition of the song is known internationally, and it reached number 70 in the Billboard Hot 100. Also a political activist, Seeger was a friend of Reynolds and, like many others in the 1960s, he used folk songs as a medium for protest.

The effectiveness of the satire was attested to by a university professor quoted in 1964 in Time magazine as saying, "I've been lecturing my classes about middle-class conformity for a whole semester. Here's a song that says it all in 1½ minutes." However, according to Christopher Hitchens, satirist Tom Lehrer described "Little Boxes" as "the most sanctimonious song ever written".

The term "ticky-tacky" became a catchphrase during the 1960s, attesting to the song's popularity.

The song has been recorded by many musicians and bands, some of whom have arranged and translated the song to meet their styles. The lyrics have been reprinted with photographs of "Little Box" houses in environmental publications.

Artists who have covered the song include Devendra Banhart, Compost, Elvis Costello, Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists (who added several new lyrics), Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree, Donovan, Anjan Dutt, Ben Folds, Skott Freedman, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Individuals, Jenny and Johnny, Angélique Kidjo, Rilo Kiley, Kinky, Linkin Park, Man Man, The Mountain Goats, Randy Newman, Nina & Frederik, Ozomatli, Phosphorescent, The Real Tuesday Weld, Rise Against, Paddy Roberts, The Shins, Regina Spektor, The Submarines, Billy Bob Thornton, Walk off the Earth, and The Womenfolk, whose 1964 version of the song by was the shortest single ever to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, at 1 minute 2 seconds, peaking at #83; in 2016, it was surpassed by "PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen)". Many of these covers were recorded as theme music for the television program Weeds, which in its second, third and eighth seasons featured a different artists' performance of the song for each episode's opening credits.

The Spanish songwriter Adolfo Celdrán wrote the first Spanish version of the song, called "Cajitas", which was released in 1969 and had several successive reissues. Another Spanish version of the song, "Las Casitas del Barrio Alto", was written by the Chilean songwriter Víctor Jara in 1971, depicting in a mocking way the over-Europeanized and bourgeois lifestyle of the residents of the "Barrio Alto" (high-class neighborhood) in Santiago de Chile. A French version with the title "Petites boîtes" was performed by Graeme Allwright and was later covered by Kate & Anna McGarrigle on their 2003 album La vache qui pleure and by Weepers Circus on their 2009 album à la récré. Haim Hefer wrote a Hebrew version of this song, called "Tik shel Plastik" (תיק של פלסטיק, "a plastic bag"), satirizing the Israeli middle class, which was recorded by The Seven Species on a 1968 album.

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