In 1976 Malvina Reynolds wrote her epitaph, remarking that "It's a bit early for (it), but I've made a resolution to get things done on time and not wait till the last minute."


      Celebrate my death for the good times I've had,
      For the work that I've done and the friends that I've made,
      Celebrate my death, of whom it could be said,
      “She was a working class woman, and a red.”

      My man was the best, a comrade and a friend,
      Fighting on the good side to the very end,
      My child was a darling, merry, strong and fine,
      And all the world's children were mine.

She died two years later, on March 17, 1978, at the age of 77. Her music, however, lived on. In 1998 her daughter Nancy Schimmel and Judy Fjell performed a set of Malvina's work for half of Judy Fjell's concert at the Forks Theater in Ukiah, and Nancy Spencer, Lisa Spencer, Crystal Reeves and Pam Bellutini put together a tribute concert perforing her songs to benefit Peace House and the Malvina biography project.

Ellen Stekert, folklorist and English professor at the University of Minnesota, was a friend of Malvina and Bud Reynolds', and did years of research and interviews toward a biography of Malvina, assisted by the San Francisco Folk Music Center and Malvina's assistant Ruth Pohlman, who raised tens of thousands of dollars in donations toward the project.

She wrote inspired and down-to-earth children's songs, both on her own as well as for Sesame Street in later years. In further tribute to this amazing activist/singer/songwriter, the Children's Music Network created the Magic Penny Award, named after one of Malvina Reynolds' songs. It is given to people who dedicate their lives to empowering children through music, although Malvina herself noted that she did not think of herself primarily as a children's songwriter.

"In fact, I tend to avoid that title, because the first thought is, you know, this nice old grandma who makes cookies and sings for kids, and that's not my character at all. I have a very acid edge toward many aspects of modern life, and I'm pretty outspoken about it."
But Malvina always emphasized that her cutting edge was there because she cared about people, because she cared about kids, that she thought the world was stealing children's natural environment,
"and much more than that—the natural progression of their tradition—and leaving them stripped, uneasy, uncomfortable, and in deep trouble...."
She dedicated her life to giving people, musically, some of the tools that are needed to heal that damage.

  • features guitar chords for Little Boxes, later covered by Pete Seeger;
  • features an excellent biography of her;
  • also has a short biography and a more in-depth look at several of her songs.

    This writeup has been CST Approved.