Meaning of “Hip to Be Square” by Huey Lewis

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

“Hip to Be Square” by Huey Lewis is a catchy tune that playfully addresses the shift from rebellious youth to a more conventional, mainstream lifestyle. The song celebrates the idea of embracing traditional values and lifestyles, often considered ‘square’ or uncool. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at growing up and accepting more conventional roles in society. Huey Lewis turns the notion of being ‘hip’ on its head by suggesting that there’s something cool about being uncool. The song is not about a specific person, but rather a general commentary on social conformity and the changes people undergo as they age.

Unpack the ironic twist of Huey Lewis’s hit, “Hip to Be Square.” Discover how this 80s anthem turns the concept of coolness upside down in a catchy, upbeat way.

“Hip to Be Square” Lyrics Meaning

The song starts with “I used to be a renegade, I used to fool around.” This line sets up a contrast between the singer’s past and present. It suggests a past filled with rebellion and non-conformity, common themes in youth culture.

As the song progresses to “But I couldn’t take the punishment, And had to settle down,” it reflects a common transition in life. The ‘punishment’ could be the consequences of a wild lifestyle or simply the realization that such a life isn’t sustainable. The phrase ‘settle down’ implies adopting a more stable, conventional lifestyle.

The chorus, “It’s hip to be square,” is both catchy and ironic. It challenges the traditional view of what’s considered ‘hip’ or cool. The song turns the idea of being square – a term usually associated with being out of touch or uncool – into something positive.

“I like my bands in business suits, I watch them on TV,” further emphasizes the embrace of conventionality. The reference to bands in business suits contrasts with the typical image of rock stars as symbols of rebellion.

In “I’m working out most every day, And watchin’ what I eat,” there’s a shift to personal responsibility and health consciousness. This line resonates with the idea of taking care of oneself as a priority over the carefree attitudes often associated with youth.

The lines “You see them on the freeway, It don’t look like a lot of fun, But don’t you try to fight it, An idea whose time has come,” suggest that the move towards a more conventional lifestyle is not just a personal choice, but a societal trend. It implies that resisting this change is futile, as it’s a natural progression of life.

Towards the end, “Don’t tell me that I’m crazy, Don’t tell me I’m nowhere,” is a defiance against those who might criticize the move towards conventionality. It’s a statement of self-assurance in one’s choices.

Overall, “Hip to Be Square” is a playful, upbeat song that embraces the shift from a rebellious lifestyle to a more conventional, ‘square’ way of living, turning the concept of what’s cool on its head.

Why Was “Hip to Be Square” Written?

“Hip to Be Square” was likely written as a reflection on the changing attitudes towards lifestyle and social norms. Huey Lewis, possibly observing his own life changes and those around him, might have been inspired to write a song that both celebrates and pokes fun at the idea of becoming more conventional with age. The state of mind during its creation was probably one of humor and self-awareness, recognizing the inevitable shift in priorities and lifestyle that comes with growing older. The song serves as a light-hearted reminder that it’s okay to embrace stability and conventionality, even in a culture that often glorifies eternal youth and rebellion.