Do I Secretly Like Goo Goo Dolls?

It’s funny how music travels with you over the years. The memories that are created around sounds can be so vivid…you might remember a conversation with someone or an intimate moment, maybe even a horrifying time at the drop of a dime if the right song comes on the radio. And it doesn’t matter what the song is, it’s just whatever was playing at the time.

I got an email last week that got me thinking about this. Goo Goo Dolls are coming to town next month for a show that I may or may not end up going to see, but as soon as I read the name Goo Goo Dolls, all these things came rushing back to me. I’ve never considered myself a fan of theirs, but I seem to have a good chunk of time haunted by their songs.

One important thing I just found out recently-Goo Goo Dolls have been around for 31 years, and John Rzeznik hasn’t always been the lead singer. *MIND BLOWN* I know that the music industry was different in the 90’s, and a lot of the bands that got big back then had been together for a long time prior, but 1986 seems like forever ago. So kudos to Goo Goo Dolls for sticking it out through the good times and the not so good times. Your fans are probably thrilled that you’ll be on tour again this summer.

My first recollection of Goo Goo Dolls came shortly after they broke out with A Boy Named Goo. The song “Name” was constantly on the radio (U93 for all my hometown readers!) and it drove me crazy. I think I was already getting snobbish at that point, which is probably why I didn’t have a ton of friends. Anyway, I was the youngest of the group of friends I did have, and one of them was already driving with a learner’s permit at that time. We had hit up the video store to pick up our 1-2 combo of Clerks and Pulp Fiction for the millionth time, and as we were driving back to his house to hang out, he pulled a cassette out and popped it in the player. It was Boy Named Goo and I screamed.

At that time in my life, this guy was probably my best friend. We had gone to grade school together and then he moved away for a number of years before returning for High School. We spent a lot of time together, and his home life was less than great. His mom had some mental issues that weren’t being dealt with, her boyfriend was a grade A jerkoff who, looking back, was pretty clearly beating both of them or at least threatening to do so. I viewed my role as a mood lightener, but it didn’t always work.

He mostly listened to harder stuff like Henry Rollins, Sponge, and Nine Inch Nails. I was surprised that A Boy Named Goo was even on his radar. Of course, “Name” is a bit of an anomaly on that album. The rest of it features some bigger guitar riffs and aggressive vocals. The band, I assume, noticed that this was the song everyone wanted to hear and changed their style a bit to better position themselves for record sales (12 million albums sold as of 2016).

Over time he and I had a falling out, and I haven’t spoken to him since before the end of our senior year. In fact, I believe his last words to me were “Fucking faggot” as he slammed me into the lockers in the hallway outside my science class because someone told him I called his girlfriend a slut. Which I hadn’t, despite the fact that she was a slut in High School. I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person now, though.

Fast forward a few years to 2004. We’re living in Buffalo, NY, the hometown of Goo Goo Dolls and it’s Independence Day. Buffalo didn’t have much a downtown by the time we moved there, but they did a great job with what they had left. Every week in the summer there were free outdoor concerts and on the 3rd and 4th of July they upped the ante. On the 3rd we got to see Ben Folds in the middle of a Rufus Wainwright and Guster sandwich, and then on the 4th was the famous Goo Goo Dolls in the rain show which they have immortalized on DVD.

I’ve never watched the DVD, so I don’t know if it fully captures how absolutely infuriating that evening truly was. The starts and stops of music, the rain turning from a drizzle to a downpour and back again for a couple of hours, the people climbing trees to get a better view because there were so many people packing Niagara Square…it was madness.

Imagine hearing just the opening guitar part of “Slide” five or six times and then nothing because lightning strikes keep happening and the band has to leave the stage. Rzeznik did his best to keep the crowd entertained-they had to shut the power off every time the band left, so he’d come out with his acoustic guitar and play, but not everyone could hear him. It was a real disaster. Eventually we left for dry land and hung out listening from the parking garage across the street for a while. Then when we drove home the water was so high where Delaware and Forest come together that it covered the grill of the car.

Those are my two big Goo Goo Dolls memories, and I think about them any time I hear one of their songs. So if I do go see them on July 24th at Huntington Bank Pavilion, don’t be surprised if I spend half the time staring off into space reminiscing.

For dates near you, check out the band’s website.

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