Malvina Reynolds Sings the Truth


The Truth Singer

I would never have counted protest songs in my top five of musical genres, until now. The ethereal, yet strong lyricism of Malvina Reynolds has just been revealed to me. The music is deceptively quiet and gentle, yet her delivery masks a rebellious even revolutionary take on the post WW2 increasingly class-ingrained society that she commented on.

Feisty, lyrical and searingly truthful.

Some of my favourite lines:

‘When I have nothing to say, I’m quiet’

And from ‘God Bless the Grass’. ‘The grass is living and the stone is dead….’    

The Money Crop is poignant:

Well, money has its own way,
And money has to grow.
It grows on human blood and bone,

As any child would know.

It’s iron stuff and paper stuff

With no life of its own,

And so it takes its growing sap

From human blood and bone.

And many a child goes hungering

Because the wage is low,

And men die on the battlefield

To make the money grow

And those that take the money crop

Are avid without end,

They plant it in the tenements

To make it grow again.

The little that they leave for us, It cannot be a seed.

We spend it for the shoddy clothes And every daily need.

We spend it in a minute, In an hour it is gone,

To find its way to grow again

On human blood and bone, Blood and bone.

‘Little Boxes’ is a parody which tells of homogenous middle America, squared up, identikit lives, people who endure a sense of stifled creativity and stunted personal expression.

#Linkin Park and the #Decembrists paid homage to this idea too.

Singer, songwriter and activist, Reynolds (August 23, 1900 – March 17, 1978) was best known for her song ‘Little Boxes.’

Malvina Sings the Truth

Her music and lyrics are far from fashionable, but I feel this evocative form of protest delivery, is more relevant than ever today.

© Suzy Rigg

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