This song is probably her most famous, and the story is quite simple. According to Pete Seeger in his publication “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” c. 1993:
“She made up ‘Little Boxes’ when she was driving to Palo Alto to sing for the P.T.A. Driving past Daly City south of San Francisco, she looked up at the hill-side, and said to her husband, ‘Bud, take the wheel. I feel a song coming on.’ When she got to Palo Alto, she had the song ready to sing.”
Is there more that needs to be said of the song? Perhaps not. The lyrics do speak for themselves.
But is there more to be said of Malvina Reynolds? I do believe there is.
She was an activist and singer-songwriter recognized by the Smithsonian Folkways label. She was also a publisher and inspiration to many folk talents, and even appeared in cameos on Sesame Street as Kate. She also wrote a collection of children’s songs.
And I’ll leave this entry with a quote out of the aforementioned Pete Seeger book:
“What a wonderful person. How I miss her. I’m only one of millions who have benefited from her wisdom and stick-to-it-iveness… Her life should be an inspiration to many people in many places. She refused to be discouraged, and if she thought she had a song worthy of being sung somewhere, she’d get on the telephone and ask to sing. She would not be put down, even though some people called her ‘pushy.’”
Here’s a quick recording of Little Boxes just for fun. Go listen to her sing it though.