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Little Boxes - Weeds theme - Malvina Reynolds

Updated on April 17, 2013

Little Boxes sung by Malvina Reynolds

I remember first hearing the theme to Weeds - Little Boxes - and being completely drawn to the voice and the lyrics. A bit of searching and a visit to Amazon later and I had my first Malvina Reynolds album. Wow.

This page is about the song Little Boxes. We'll look at the history and lyrics of the song and some great versions of the song.

I'm a big folk music fan. I love songs that tell a story or have a message. Reynolds has sung and written some wonderfully political pieces. Some are of their time, but many are very relevant today.

Image: Author's own

Did you know?

Malvina Reynolds wrote Little Boxes in 1962. Malvina Reynolds was born in 1900 so she was over 60 when she wrote this. Amazing. It would have been pretty non-conformist at the time.

Malvina Reynolds sings Little Boxes

Malvina Reynolds: Ear to the Ground (CD)

Ear to the Ground
Ear to the Ground

This was the first Malvina Reynolds album I bought. It includes the song Little Boxes that I had heard on Weeds. I expected Little Boxes to be the best song on the album. Well it's good, but it doesn't stand out particularly. The album is full of excellent songs. I was very pleased to have discovered the music of Malvina Reynolds.

 

Little boxes on the hillside

Lyrics

Malvina Reynolds was a folk musician and political activist. All of her songs have a message and Little Boxes in no exception. Note that Malvina was university educated herself by the time she wrote this, it's the conformity she's questioning. I love the way the song ends up where it begins, but a generation on. Very clever.

I could almost write the lyrics from memory. Here's an extract with a link to the full Little Boxes lyrics.

"Little boxes made of ticky-tacky"

More ...


[Lyrics by Malvina Reynolds, 1962]

Malvina Reynolds came up with the idea for the song Little Boxes while traveling through Daly City, California.

Little Boxes: The Architecture Of A Classic Midcentury Suburb
Little Boxes: The Architecture Of A Classic Midcentury Suburb

This book explores the architecture that motivated the song.

 

Little Boxes Chords

Little Boxes Guitar Tabs

Want to play Little Boxes on the guitar?

Malvina Reynolds/Pete Seeger, Little Boxes chords

Malvina Reynolds: Ear to the Ground (MP3)

I love this album. My favorites include Rosie Jane, The Little Mouse, There's a Bottom Below and Bury Me in my Overalls. I'm having trouble stopping. This is a superb album. Makes me smile and think in equal measure.

Pete Seeger sings Little Boxes

It was actually Malvina Reynold's friend Pete Seeger that had a hit with Little Boxes. Pete Seeger's version was the well know one until Weeds came along and introduced a new generation to Malvina Reynolds.


Pete Seeger's Version

You can find Pete Seeger's version on his Greatest Hits album.

Weeds Soundtrack / Theme Tune

Malvina Reynold's version of Little Boxes is the theme tune to Season One of Weeds. This introduced Malvina Reynolds to a new generation including me.

Making this page has made me want to watch Weeds again. Great show. Weeds is a US series featuring a widowed suburban Mom who sells marijuana as an 'easy' option for making money. Very dark.

Little Boxes is a very appropriate theme song. Makes you wonder what's actually going on behind all those "Little Boxes, all the same".

Weeds: Music From The Original Series
Weeds: Music From The Original Series

Malvina Reynold's version of Little Boxes appear on Weeds: Music from the Original Series.

 

Covers from Weeds

In Seasons Two and Three, Weeds opened the show with a different cover of Little Boxes each week.

You can find a list of covers at: Little Boxes covers

A few of my favorites are:

Elvis Costello - I'm an Elvis Costello fan so I enjoyed this, but I think some of the other versions are better.

McGarrigle Sisters sing Petites Boites (in French!) Polished as always.

Donovan - Donovan really makes this his own.

Billy Bob Thornton - with a Southern twang.

The Laurie Berkner Band - Hadn't come across Berkner before. Like what she does with her voice.

The Decemberists - No idea who they are, but love the accordion and something reminds me of the Pogues for some reason.

Regina Spektor sings Little Boxes

And here's my favorite cover of Little Boxes. Regina Spektor does a beautiful version.

Regina Spektor: Far

If you liked Regina Spektor's version of Little Boxes, you might want to hear more from her (I know I do!)

Vote for Your Favorite

We've looked at lots of versions of Little Boxes, which one do you like best?

My favorite version is:

See results

Little Boxes Parody - See the Beatniks

And they dig Woody Gutherie

The lyrics to a Little Boxes Parody can be found in a few places on the web, often attributed to Woodie Guthrie who appears in the lyrics.

"See, the beatniks in the Village"

A comment on this Little Boxes blog post attributes the parody to an edition of Sing-Out Magazine in 1964 called See the Beatniks (An Ode to Non-Conformity) and the author is given as Burt Siegel.

Woodie Guthrie appears in the final verse.

If you're interested in the meaning behind the lyrics of Little Boxes then the blog post and its comments are well worth a read. The full lyrics to See the Beatniks are included there too.

Do you have a favorite version of Little Boxes? Anything important we've missed? Do you like Little Boxes?

Comments

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    • mojoCNYartist profile image

      Dan 5 years ago from CNY

      Love this song...my friend used to sing it all the time, and I remembered this song when I started watching Weeds. I noticed you mention Laurie Berkner singing her version....she is a good musician for kids.

    • garrekds profile image

      garrekds 6 years ago

      This song is just awesome. First heard it on Weeds. I really like Regina Spektor's cover. I also like Regina Spektor in general!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very nice lens :) I enjoyed reading it and listened to the music :)