“Little Boxes”


"Little boxes on the hillside... And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same." How people go to school and go into business and get put into "little boxes (houses) all the same" (except for minor differences in color)


The irony of this song, at least to me, is that while most Americans DO think the same thoughts and live the same lives and buy houses from the same contractors and watch the same sports on the same TV sets and otherwise follow the crowd and pollute the same environment with the same junk that they extract from the same oil wells, they at least have a choice about it. A medieval peasant was a medieval peasant no matter how hard he tried to be a freethinker, and even the nobility didn't have many choices....

This is of course not a traditional song by origin, and it probably hasn't goine into traition either; it's here because it's cited in many books, but none of them are field collections.

Although Reynolds is responsible for both words and music of the piece, but she seems to have been inspired (perhaps unconsciously) by the song "Pittsburg, Pennsylvania" ("There's a pawn shop on the corner In Pittsburg Pennsylvania"), made popular by a 1952 recording by Guy Mitchell. - RBW


  • Pete Seeger, "Little Boxes" (on PeteSeeger35, PeteSeeger36)


  1. Scott-BoA, pp. 378-380, "Little Boxes" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Arnett, p. 189, "Little Boxes" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Silber-FSWB, p. 314, "Little Boxes" (1 text)
  5. BI, SBoA378


Author: Malvina Reynolds
Earliest date: 1962
Keywords: political nonballad