RECORD STORE TALES Part 172: The Goo Goo Dolls
Back in 1995, when the Goo Goo Dolls finally made the big time with “Name”, I sold an assload of those albums in my store. People couldn’t get enough of them back then. I personally had never even listened to it. I mean, there were so many alt-rock bands in 1995 and ’96! Better Than Ezra, Presidents of the United States of America, Matchbox 20…and I wasn’t interested in any of them. I was a metal head.
As it turns out, (this is complicated, so bear with me) my uncle worked with the mother of the fiance of bassist Robby Takac. So my aunt started asking me all these questions about this band, Goo Goo Dolls. Do you know them? Do you sell them in your store? Etc.
I told my aunt, yes I know Goo Goo Dolls, and yes, I sell a ton of them in our store. They were definitely one of our top sellers, for pretty much a year straight. I mean they were huge at the time.
My aunt and uncle ended up being invited to the wedding, and Goo Goo Dolls played at the reception. They had a great time, very much enjoyed herself, and met the band. Not knowing that I had never listened to a Goo Goo Dolls song in my life, my aunt told Robby and the band that I was a big supporter and sold a whole bunch of their discs in my store for them.
To their credit, they were very thankful (if a tad misled), and FedEx’d my aunt a signed glossy in gratitude!
“Hi Michael,” it says, “Thanks a lot for your help!” It was signed by Robby, lead singer Johnny Rzeznik, and new drummer Mike Malinin.
A tad bemused, I thought it might be a good idea to actually do them the service of listening to their music. So I began to do that, in store, and found that I actually enjoyed the band quite a bit. I like A Boy Named Goo, the album that I supposedly helped them out with, but I think Superstar Car Wash (the album previous) and Dizzy Up The Girl (the album that followed) are both superior. I still like them today, leaning towards the early punk material, with a preference to their excellent deep cuts compilation, What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce.
So there you go. If it wasn’t for a slight misunderstanding, I might never have discovered the band!
Neat story and a small world as well.
Like everyone else at the time I bought this disc as well,thought it was good but man what a dumb name…
Rezeznick could write a good tune though..there success was well deserved …..
Deke believe it or not I never even realized the “A Boy Named Goo” / “A Boy Named Sue” thing for years and years. I still don’t like the title much ;)
Very cool story. I could never get into these guys back in the day, and still don’t think much of them now. I am, however, a big fan of some other bands from that era, including Better Than Ezra and especially Del Amitri (who, in my opinion, were the cream of the crop of ’90s melodic pop-rock, and still one of my all-time favorite bands). Sometimes it’s a matter of when or how you first hear a band that can affect your long-term enjoyment of their music, and this post confirms that.
Sounds like I need to check out some Del Amitri then — I don’t think I have ever heard any!
They’re best known in the US as one-hit wonders for the 2-minute Beatle-y “Roll To Me,” which isn’t indicative of the rest of their output (although it’s a fun, catchy song). I don’t usually recommend compilations, but theirs (Hatful Of Rain: The Best Of Del Amitri) is an excellent intro. Of their 6 albums, the middle 4 are the way to go if you decide to check them out. They can definitely be found dirt cheap.
I’m checking out some tunes on youtube right now. I have heard “Roll To Me” before (maybe on a movie soundtrack?) “Always the Last to Know” is a bit more rock than that but still with the hooks…
I miss bands like this actually.
Del Amitri, and specifically their lead singer and principal songwriter Justin Currie, is a master at writing hook after hook. And I feel confident in saying that no one writes a better bridge than him…ever! Most bands would kill to write one melody as good as any of the second or third melodies he comes up with in any given song. And in keeping with the Neil Young theme of my recent posts, they did an excellent version of his “Don’t Cry No Tears.”
Sounds like once again you’ve given me a new artist to check out. Just when I started branching out! Hahah.
For some reason, I always assumed that Del Amitri was a guy’s name.
The good news is they have a relatively small discography to explore. Unless, like me, you want to get all of their b-sides (uh-oh, I temporarily forgot who I was speaking with). I must say that the quality of their b-sides is outstanding, with at least half of them as good as anything on the actual albums.
As for the name, I’ve never found out how or why they came up with it. At one point their old website claimed that they would physically harm you if you ask them about the band’s name. I met the band once, and Justin Currie a few times, and I’ve never inquired about the name. He’s a great guy, as are all the Scots I’ve met.
We’d best not discuss B-sides, Rich! I just discovered Discogs. I’m finding it an affordable way to complete my Def Leppard and Whitesnake B-sides collections. Just got a Leppard single and a Whitesnake single in the mail…(don’t worry, you will be reading all about the B-sides in the future.)
That’s funny about the threat of bodily harm. I wonder if anybody took the risk on that?
So they are Scottish too? Wow, I wonder if HMO is familiar with them.
Another great article as always Mike. Thanks for sharing with all of us.
Thanks Pat! Much appreciated!
Not familiar with Goo Goo Dolls (Oooga Boooga!) but this is an entertaining cart before the horse way of getting into them! Good story.
I know of Del Amitri but I’m not that familiar with them. I think Aaron’s a fan of them though?
I think so.
Goo Goo Dolls’ earlier, punkier material might appeal to you. They were really influenced by The Replacements…as you know, Tommy Stinson from the Replacements is now in Guns N’ Roses.
Definitely prefer the earlier stuff.
Definitely. Like two different bands.
Had to comment here. I never listened to Goo Goo Dolls either but for some reason got the box set of their first 5 albums at RSD and now I found that I really like the first 3 a lot. I think I would have been a huge fan if I has known about them at the time. Love the energy of that 1st album.
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They were real Buffalo punkers back then. I think Superstar Car Wash is fantastic!