A Boy Named Goo

Goo Goo Dolls

Alternative rock power trio, the Goo Goo Dolls, release A Boy Named Goo squarely in the middle of the 90s (1995). Their 5th studio album, A Boy Named Goo is both true to their Buffalo indie-metal-punk-pop rock scene roots and a more listener/mainstream friendlier AOR sound.

A Boy Named Goo: the Name of Goo Goo Dolls best overall album (1995)

This album includes some great singles in Name, Naked, and Long Way Down, as well as Only One and Flat Top. All in all, both a logical follow-up to 1993’s Superstar Car Wash and an improvement in commercial songwriting.

Also, we can all agree that Johnny Rzeznik looks like he belongs on the 90s Detroit Red Wings with Yzerman, Federov, and Lidstrom, right?!

On A Boy Named Goo, Rzeznik’s lead vocal songs really stand out as more polished “singles” than Takac’s.

Here is how you can tell:

Album/band controversies

Walmart called the album cover artwork offensive and pulled it from the shelves after selling 51,000 copies. Customers mistook the “goo” for blood and suggested it glorified child abuse, said Ken Phillips, a spokesman for Warner Bros. Records.

According to Rzeznik, “The name of the album is A Boy Named Goo. The picture is of a boy covered with goo. What part of this concept are they unclear on?”

Also, the band found themselves trying to shed their heavy metal label, Metal Blade for their lack of royalities over album sales.

Seems to be a lot of that going on here.

Tutuska fired

George Tutuska was fired from the band over a money dispute with Rzeznik over unpaid radio airplay royalties for Superstar Car Wash’s single, Fallin’ Down.

Plus, there was a different track listing prior to his firing, including a song Tutuska had written (amongst many others that he said contributed more to than credited).

Rating

I give A Boy Named Goo a 7.2510

Gotta disagree with old schooler, and (self?)-appointed “Dean of American Rock Critics”, Robert Christgau, on his dud rating for A Boy Named Goo.

Sure, it’s not Ten, Nevermind, Superunknown, Siamese Dream, or Core, but it’s still good.

Whatever, he can go pound sand.

Track listing

  1. Long Way Down
  2. Burnin’ Up
  3. Naked
  4. Flat Top
  5. Impersonality
  6. Name
  7. Only One
  8. Somethin’ Bad
  9. Ain’t That Unusual
  10. So Long
  11. Eyes Wide Open
  12. Disconnected
  13. Slave Girl

A Boy Named Goo song notes

Long Way Down

A near perfect 90s alternative rock song. I place it right behind Soul Asylum’s Somebody to Shove (Grave Dancer’s Union) as the quintessential 90s alt rock song. Pants disagrees as he normally does.

The band is interestingly positioned similar to Nirvana in their Teen Spirit video.

Burnin’ Up

Like an East Coast version of a Green Day song.

The fluttery noise ending is on-brand for the 90s.

Naked

Goo Goo Dolls loved their arpeggiated verse into a power-chugging pre-chorus, and back to arpeggiating the chorus. And vice versa.

Melodic solo to start. Picks up the dramatic pace with some bendy note fun.

The vocal isolation of, “Inside your head, no one’s there, and I don’t think I’ll ever be, and I don’t care” is just a boss move.

Nice work, fellas!

Once again, the video harkens back to Nirvana aesthetic. Reeks of major label interference. The Goo Goo Dolls were a different band than Cobain, Grohl, and Novoselic.

Flat Top

Rzeznik’s 90s guitar chime in sync with the Takac’s bass lines.

Impersonality

A modern day (90s) punk song.

Name

The Hit. A 90s Power Ballad in all its majesty.

DAEAEE Tuning

Name’s open tuning and non-traditional chord progression leads to a very unique sound. According to Rzeznik in Guitar World Magazine, “Both the top strings are high E strings. Whenever I tried tuning a regular B string up to E, it would pop. It was really tough on the tension.”

It seems the song is at least partially about ex MTV VJ Kennedy. Who knew!? I didn’t.

Fun fact: Name ranked #24 on Billboard’s “Top 100 Pop Songs 1992–2012”

Only One

Go go power punk verse. Pull it back for the pop rock chorus. Annnnd we’re back. Nice.

90s lounge club bridge with finger snaps? I’m feeling it.

Nice adrenaline pre-chorus into a most excellent harmonized gang vocal

You used to be a folk singer, now you’re just a joke singer, ain’t no smokin’ dope singer, swinging from a rope singerrrrrrrrrr!

Pretty sure Caroline Spine would re-release the opening riff on Sullivan. And if we look back in history, I’m sure the Goo Goo Dolls creatively lifted from others.

There aren’t the notes you are looking for!

Somethin’ Bad

Somethin’ Bad sounds like a tune outta Vegas Vacation when Rusty morphes into Nick Pappagiorgio.

Ain’t That Unusual

Ain’t That Unsusal is a standard Goo Goo Dolls rock song. Distorted, but not too hard, and singable.

So Long

Oh So Lonnnnnng. Got a Green Day meets Goldfinger vibe.

Eyes Wide Open

I wanna kick it on dowwwwwn!

Rzeznik led songs were so good before 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl turned everything into alt-tuned acoustic ballads.

I blame soft rock Iris and the City of Angels soundtrack.

Pretty good solo on Eyes Wide Open.

Disconnected

Insert audio clip. Has anyone turned a rock intro into a punk intro and back again so quickly? That was impressive.

Straightforward rock tune, presumably about a breakup. You know, as most songs not about booze or drugs are.

Slave Girl

90s blues rock!

Takac is vocally underrated, he deserves more credit. Not for performing on ALL of their radio hits, cause he didn’t, but for doing sleaze rock on Slave Girl, metal, punk, and probably some form of surf-indie-ska-core-americana-trip-hop or something ridiculous elsewhere.