Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Little Boxes On The Hillside" A Not So Wordless Wednesday

     Some of you may recognize this set of buildings. Or, perhaps you have driven by without noticing. Does anyone know where this is? Place your guess in the comments and I'll tell you. The winner will get the pleasure of more of these kinds of "out of the box" posts from me! Lucky you!
     I was intrigued by the colors and the irony; the little boxes, though each with it's own color, they all look just the same. I don't mean simply the obviousness of the architecture, either. They each clearly bear the hand of the same person in the chosen palette of colors, as well. "Little boxes on the hillside, and they're all made out of ticky tacky........."
     Malvina Reynolds was the folk singer who wrote this tune in 1962. Malvina and her husband Bud were on their way from their home in Berkeley, through San Francisco and down the peninsula to La Honda. She was on her way to a singing engagement at a meeting of the Friends’ Committee on Legislation (not the PTA, as Pete Seeger says in the documentary about Reynolds, “Love It Like a Fool”). As she drove through Daly City, she said “Bud, take the wheel. I feel a song coming on.”
     I remember singing this as a kid. My sisters and I sang this ditty in the car when we would see houses that fit the bill. My beatnik parents had taught us to spot the bourgeois and mundane, things to avoid in life, and when we did, to sing this song. Wedged together in the back seat, we would sing our heads off which delighted our parents. Malvina would have been proud of all of us.
     The lyrics are below and a video of Malvina singing Little Boxes, in case you don't remember the words or the tune. This is sure to infect you with an earworm for the day as my little gift to you. The term "ticky- tacky" is now included in the Oxford English Dictionary, and credited to Malvina.

Little Boxes
Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes made of ticky tacky,

Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes all the same.

There's a green one and a pink one

And a blue one and a yellow one,

And they're all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses

All went to the university,

Where they were put in boxes

And they came out all the same,

And there's doctors and lawyers,

And business executives,

And they're all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course

And drink their martinis dry,

And they all have pretty children

And the children go to school,

And the children go to summer camp

And then to the university,

Where they are put in boxes

And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business

And marry and raise a family

In boxes made of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

There's a green one and a pink one

And a blue one and a yellow one,

And they're all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.


  1. I had so forgotten that song but as i read it came back to me. Like yesterday it seemed. So now it keeps going through my head but it's accompanied by your image which is an improvement over the old mental picture. :-)

  2. Annie, Thanks for this. When I came across this image in my files, though I had taken the shot a couple of years ago, I had a flood of recall. I could feel myself wedged between my siblings in our little car, singing my head off.

  3. That brought back fond memories~!! rated!
    Susie Lindau
    February 23, 2011 10:13 PM

  4. Sheila Fonseca commented on your note ""Little Boxes On The Hillside" A Not So Wordless Wednesday".
    Sheila wrote: "The theme song from "Weeds"."

  5. Sheila, As a "Weeds Watcher," I did know that. The odd thing is that I didn't remember that when I was writing the piece. Memory imprinting is such an odd thing, isn't it?

  6. I never realized the history of this song (pre-Weeds of course). Thanks for the video and the info!

  7. Thank you, Jen. Glad to be of historical, if not histerical service. :-)

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