The Stickies

Category: Songwriter Stories

The Stickies Official Pic

Are You Happy is about love (nothing too important), and has humble beginnings. We didn't write it out in the desert around a fire while slamming peyote. I didn't sell my soul, or befriend a Kodiak bear in the process. No, this tune was meant to be the opposite of its subject matter, simple. Originally it was meant to capture the dissipation of romance in relationships, and how that "IN love" feeling, can transition into a more calm version "love." Of course like always, my own experiences at the time turned the lyrics into more of a case study, and ultimately chronicled the timid moments before a breakup.

Story Time. I was dating this girl, who at the time worked at Chuck-E-Cheese’s. In fact, she was Chuck-E, the actual mascot. I'll leave it at that. We weren't exactly "power couple" of the year. So I was supposed to take her to lunch one day, but when I get to her work it's clear she'd been bottling up weeks worth of complaints and discontent, looking for any reason to explode. My presence was enough. Now I don't know if you've ever been in a verbal battle with Chuck-E-Cheese while parents and children both look on with a combination of disgust and confusion, but I wouldn't recommend it. So after the argument, I'm looking into Chuck's eyes, and out comes the line "Are You Happy? Seriously, are you happy with me?" To which she replies, "I don't know." Which means "No, but I'll spare your feelings." We broke up.

On the way home, the chorus just popped into my head and stuck there, like a broken record to a tune that didn't even exist. Still, it wasn't till weeks later when writing the lyrics that I could flesh out all the emotions from that day. The juxtaposition of setting (Chuck-E-Cheese) and event (Getting my ass dumped) was more irrationally comical than symbolic at the time. Adult themes of love, loss, rebirth, and even uncertainty were superimposed on a backdrop of youth and innocence. This confrontation of ignorance and knowledge creates unrest in the feeling of what can only be called magic, like a child who happily plays without thinking or knowing about the world’s harsh truths. He embraces freedom, without questioning it. He enjoys life by living it. He loves. Then again, Are You Happy is really just The Stickies story about a tragic breakup.