Sunday, July 8, 2012

Little Boxes on the Hillside,
Little Boxes Made of Ticky Tacky

Showtime's hit TV show Weeds features the opening theme song, "Little Boxes," a cutesy folksy song originally written and recorded by Malvina Reynolds in 1962. Reynolds wrote the song during a trip with her family through Daly City, California as a social commentary on the shoddily built, conformist track housing she saw from the road. The lyrics refer to the homes being built of "ticky tacky," a reference to cheap construction. The song was then recorded by Pete Seeger who ultimately made the song famous.

Season 1 in 2005, the Weeds show featured songwriter Reynolds' original version. However, seasons 2 and 3, featured unique renditions by famous recording artists. A few of the performers have included Elvis Costello, Regina Specktor, Billy Bob Thornton, The Shins, Randy Newman, Linkin Park, and The Decemberists. The covers were unfortunately abandoned during seasons 4 through 7. Now in its final season 8, the show is reintroducing guest artists to remake the theme.

Episode 1 "Messy," which aired on Sunday July 1, debuted a new opener with a whiteboard cartoon created by Idea Rocket Animation, depicting a timeline of the shows plot over the last seven seasons. [ Link to the new animation. ] Company creative director William Gadea explains the process artist Robert Kopecky employed to create the cartoon opener in an interview with Studio Daily.

This Sunday, July 8, Episode 2, "A Beam of Sunshine," will feature recording artist and Sing-Off judge, Ben Folds. You can find the show on Showtime at 10 and 11 PM EDT on Sunday, July 8. The show repeats throughout the week at various times. [ Ben Folds' cover of Little Boxes Weeds intro ]

Folds is currently working on the production of his first CD made with Ben Folds Five in over 12 years via an online pledge campaign. His last CD of newly unreleased material, Lonely Avenue, which he cowrote with book author Nick Hornby, featured a similar animation of the song "From Above" by Simpsons director and animator Julius Preite and designer Justin Owens.

Covers by various artists

Here are some of the versions of the series theme song performed on the show. I starred some of my favorites. Just for fun, try playing these for a friend and don't tell them who is performing them, then see if they can guess who it is.

Thanks to youtuber joeblowaz for taking the time to post the intros from Seasons 2 and 3. A special note: Watch out for the odd little pop-up video ads in the upper right hand corner on some postings. They contain an audio track which can ruin your listening experience.

Original song

Here is the original song as performed by Malvina Reynolds, "Little Boxes."

Season 2 of Weeds Opening Theme: Little Boxes

Season 2 Episode 1 - Elvis Costello
Season 2 Episode 2 - Death Cab for Cutie
Season 2 Episode 3 - Engelbert Humperdinck **
Season 2 Episode 4 - McGarrigle Sisters (French version)
Season 2 Episode 5 - Maestro Charles Barnett (symphonic version)
Season 2 Episode 6 - Aiden Hawken
Season 2 Episode 7 - Ozomatli
Season 2 Episode 8 - The Submarines
Season 2 Episode 9 - Tim DeLaughter
Season 2 Episode 10 - Regina Spektor **
Season 2 Episode 11 - Jenny Lewis with Johnathan Rice **

Season 3 of Weeds Opening Theme: Little Boxes

Season 3 Episode 01 - Randy Newman
Season 3 Episode 02 - Angelique Kidjo (Afropop Carribean) **
Season 3 Episode 03 - Kinky (disco Spanish)
Season 3 Episode 04 - Donovan
Season 3 Episode 05 - Billy Bob Thornton **
Season 3 Episode 06 - The Shins
Season 3 Episode 07 - The Individuals
Season 3 Episode 08 - Man Man **
Season 3 Episode 09 - Joan Baez
Season 3 Episode 10 - The Decemberists
Season 3 Episode 11 - Michael Franti
Season 3 Episode 12 - Persephone's Bees (Russian and English) **
Season 3 Episode 13 - Laurie Berkner Band
Season 3 Episode 14 - Linkin Park
Season 3 Episode 15 - Pete Seeger

Season 8 of Weeds Opening Theme: Little Boxes
To be updated throughout the year

Season 8 Episode 01 - Malvina Reynolds with new cartoon intro by Idea Rocket Animation **
Season 8 Episode 02 - Ben Folds **
Season 8 Episode 03 - Cast member Kevin Nealon (Doug) with Steve Martin yelling and screaming while playing banjo
Season 8 Episode 04 - Mariachi El Bronx **
Season 8 Episode 05 - The Mountain Goats
Season 8 Episode 06 - Bomb the Music Industry!
Season 8 Episode 07 - The Womenfolk **
Season 8 Episode 08 - The Thermals
Season 8 Episode 09 - Dierks Bentley **
Season 8 Episode 10 - Cast member Hunter Parrish (Silas)
Season 8 Episode 11 - Aimee Mann **
Season 8 Episode 12 - Cut Chemist
Season 8 Episode 13 - Malvina Reynolds (Series finale)

Never used theme covers:

After Season 3 ended, the show temporarily ceased using other performers to cover the theme song. However, these versions were already recorded and can be found on youtube. In fact, you can find numerous independent recordings of the theme by fans and lesser known artists, perhaps hopeful that their versions would be chosen.

Rise Against
The Crackheads
Mayer Hawthorne / Haircut

Props used on Weeds:

As long as we're on the subject of "Weed," here is another youtube video I ran across while scrounging around for the opening theme song posts. This video from Season 4 features the creation of the magnificent fake marijuana props for the show, using ingredients such as Mexican spices, parsley, and kosher salt attached to dowels with hot glue.
Video: The Weed Wranglers.

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