“Everyone thinks I’m the boy next door because I look like the boy next door. But look at my parents, and look where I come from. I’m a beatnik kid.”
— Huey Lewis
For the record, Huey Lewis has always insisted that the lyrics of Hip To Be Square are meant to be ironic. They were originally written in the third person and were meant to satirize the band’s clean-cut image. Because Huey Lewis and the News were older than the average rock band when they hit it big, they were often considered to be safe or conservative. In real life, Huey Lewis was the stepson of beat poet Lew Welch, whom Lewis has described as being a major influence on his life and music. (Huey, who was born Hugh Cregg III, even paid tribute to Lew Welch with his stage name.) After high school, Lewis hitchhiked through Europe and he spent several years as a part of San Francisco’s decidedly unsquare music scene.
Despite what Patrick Bateman might try to tell you, Hip To Be Square was never meant to be an anthem for square people. In concert, Lewis usually makes this point square by signing the song as Too Hip to Be Square.
The video was directed by the team of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, who directed several memorable music videos in the 80s. Godley and Creme directed this video using the type of medical cameras that are typically inserted into a human body to allow doctor to get a closer look at what might be ailing you. The video was nominated for Best Experimental Video at the 1987 MTV Music Video Awards.