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Written on March 16, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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Little boxes on the hill side, little boxes made of ticky-tacky.
Little boxes, little boxes, 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 go to the university
Where they all get put in boxes, little boxes, all the same.
And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers, and there’s 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 martini 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 all get put in boxes and they all come out the same.

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
And they all get put in boxes, 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.

Malvina Reynolds © 1963, Set to music and performed by Pete Seeger


This lovely song used to terrify me as a small child with it’s innocent tale of depressing conformity.

The naive sweetness of the melody sounds a warning note clear across the decades, against uniformity of expectation, drab quality of life and the perpetuation of chauvinist values. Inside the boxes rotted the nuclear family. Suburban isolation tore into the soul of caged mothers who dutifully swallowed their green and pink and yellow and blue “medication”, as an entire straight generation trapped in this degraded lifestyle got hooked on legal drugs, while the media focus was on the illegal ones favoured by the beat and hippy counter-culture. Valium, anyone, with your Martini?

When I hear this song, I also hear the theme tune to Bewitched. The word “Formica” comes to mind. Also, “Draylon”. And the phrases, “net curtain” and “ceiling tiles” and “crazy paving”. And sometimes, in the wind, I hear the word “Croydon”.

Pete, I am forever grateful to your Great American Leftness. You helped me get the hell out.

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One Comment

  1. dickvandyke
    Posted 7 May, 2006 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    fuckin tremendous post.

One Trackback

  1. Posted 22 January, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    […] rim, where council houses merge with the stockbroker belt, and was sufficiently inspired by a loathing of conformity, by engendered ideals of social mobility enabled by hard work and education to get […]

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