The third song on Switchfoot’s new album is a “slow” song. No, I don’t mean one you are supposed to slow dance to. I just mean slower in rhythm compared to the previous songs. Jon (the lead singer) says this song is the heart of the record and gives life to the band. Also, this song contains the line from which the name of the album was taken, “nothing is sound.”
First, let’s talk about the title. “Yuppie” refers to a group of people viewed as spoiled and rich. Here is the definition of “yuppie” found on Wikipedia: “short for "Young Urban Professional," describes a demographic of people comprising baby boomers as well as people in their late twenties and early thirties. Yuppies tend to hold jobs in the professional sector, with incomes that place them in the upper-middle economic class. The term "Yuppie" emerged in the early 1980s as an ironic echo of the earlier "hippies" and "yippies" who had rejected the materialistically oriented values of the business community. Although the original yuppies were "young," the term now applies as well to people of middle age.” “Happy” obviously refers to a shallow emotion that ignores the reality of pain and suffering in the world. This kind of happiness is weak and fleeting.
I’ll be honest and admit that I do not understand all of the lines in this song. Often, I feel like these songs are written in code and the key is thrown deep into the ocean. I wish at least they would explain the words on their website. Anyway, “Happy is a Yuppie Word” is another example of Switchfoot’s pessimism. The only drop of hope comes in the phrase, “I’m looking for the kingdom coming down.” The dominant message of the song is that everything is meaningless (i.e. nothing is sound). This is an echo of much of Ecclesiastes.
The verses of this song seem to be just a random collection of phrases untied only in that they are equally hopeless. For example, “everything fails,” “nothing is new,” and “when will all the failures rise.” I do see and appriciate the contrasts this song presents. I really want to know what the “now” in the chorus refers to (why can nothing fail you “now” when you just said “everything fails?”).
Musically, I like “Happy is a Yuppie Word” and I applaud the illusions to Ecclesiastes. However, my opinion is that “Happy is a Yuppie Word” is “Lonely Nation” only slower and with different words. My favoirte line is “Blessed is the man who’s lost it all.” Certainly this is a reference to the Biblical paradox of true happiness. Jesus taught that true happiness can only be found in losing everything for His sake.
I do not like the title of this song or the Bob Dylan quote it is based on. Here is the reason why: I want to redeem the meaning of the word “happy.” I don’t think “happy” is a yuppie, shallow word. Certainly people use it to mean a shallow, emotional feeling that disregards suffering and we must be sensitive to what people mean by the words they use. However, the Bible says God is a happy God (1 Timothy 1:11) and the Bible promises happiness to those who seek Christ. Happiness in God through the death of Christ is what I desire. So, let’s reclaim this great word and not give in to the world’s definition of it. I think I’ll start a movement: www.redeemhappy.com.