Little Songs Analysis

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Little Songs, Big Meanings
Music is a critical form of expression, especially in times of political and social unrest; it has been an ever-present component in protest movements throughout history. Songs have the power to not only unite a group of people, but also motivate them. Music is an important historical text that provides us understanding into the circumstances that led up to protest movements and the reasons that motivate its activists. They are far more complex than just types of entertainment. Protest songs have no specific genre and can often be applied in many social movements. The 1950’s and 60’s were the beginning of the civil rights movement. Malvina Reynolds song “Little Boxes” is a critique of the culture of conformity during
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This was a period of anti-communism rooting back to the Cold War. People began making accusations not only about those believed to be communists but for their sympathizers as well. It was a time when neighbors were encouraged to spy on each other, and being different from the ‘norm’ brought serious repercussions. The country was divided and paranoia was everywhere. To unite following the Red Scare, people were directed to spend money and have babies. A culture of conformity began, leading into the era of consumerism. Class barriers were then broken down and the middle and working classes began to grow. In the 60’s, the ultimate symbol of affluence was to own your own home in the suburbs. The ‘American Dream’ was renewed, the thirty-year mortgage began, and these housing districts began to spread like wildfire. “Little Boxes” criticizes the boring suburban lifestyle of this historical period. Suburbs were compromised of identical houses and especially identical people; they were a white phenomenon. Children perpetuated this cycle of normalcy, living out the same regimented lives as their parents. Despite the many injustices going on, this ever-growing group of middle class citizens continued to conform and practice the same head-in-the-sand attitude as those before them. “Little Boxes” is a political statement about the uniformity, the sameness, which was being cultivated within society at this…show more content…
In Suburbia, housing covenants were put in place and mortgages were denied in predominately black communities. The ‘Invisible Poor’, consisting of urban, rural, and elderly poverty, began to grow. Although the government shed light on the high level of poverty, they put no help or money into solving it. A new generation of student activists, that were fed up with the slow pace and half successes of leftists at this time, began to take direct action. They no longer wanted to be a generation that conformed and sat back, instead seeking to “share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life and that society be organized to encourage independence in men and provide the media for their common participation.” They believed in a participatory democracy. In the Port Huron Statement, students stated that there is “no real conception of personal identity except one manufactured in the image of others”. Society was encouraging everybody to be like each other, quieting any voice that attempted to speak out. These students began protesting and fighting until those around them had no choice but to listen. The song “Little Boxes” represents the generation of people these students didn’t want to be, refusing to conform to the demands of society and coming together to fight for basic civil rights for
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