It's hip to be square.

  • You can easily find the song title in Wikipedia and elsewhere. It's a play on words.

    In the pop and youth culture of the 1950's and 1960's (? and later ?), "square" meant "stuffy" or "old-fashioned".

    "Hip" meant the opposite: "up to date" or "with it".

    On the surface, the song-title is a sort of retro-expression, saying that something that was once thought to be old-fashioned is now back in fashion.

    If you look at the rest of the song, on a personal level the lyricist is saying that he has started to conform to the establishment because he can't stand the stress of being a rebel any more.

    It's also a comment on the hypocrisy of the former "hippies" turning into ultra-establishment figures.

    In other words, it's the same old story of rebellious and radical youth growing up and settling down!
     

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    In 1960's youth-culture society was perceived as forcing people to conform to a shape that fitted together. This meant that men always wore short hair, women never showed bare skin other than hands and face... In 'hippy' (hence 'hip') terminology this was called 'being square', with negative conotations of loss of individuality. Rebelling against this, men grew long hair while men and women in general began wearing colourful clothes and showing off their bodies.

    A generation later, after 'punk' culture had taken non-conformity into its anarchic, nihilistic philosophy, the idea of 'being square' has come full circle and taken on positive conotations.

    Thus this song lyric is addressed to people of the hippy generation, saying it is 'hip' ('cool'/good) to wear a suit and short hair.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top