Black Balloon

Album: Dizzy Up The Girl (1998)
Charted: 16

Songfacts®:

  • On the Goo Goo Dolls' VH1 Storytellers special, frontman Johnny Rzeznik said this ballad was inspired by his friend's heroin addiction and the havoc it wreaked on everyone else.
  • This was the fourth single from Dizzy Up The Girl, the band's sixth album. Along with "Name" (from A Boy Named Goo), "Iris," and "Slide," the tune helped solidify the former punk band's reputation as hit power balladeers.
  • For the unique intro, Rzenzik detuned a baritone guitar and started playing harmonics. "Then we ran it through a bunch of pedals and outboard gear and just kept playing with it and messing with it and layering it up," he explained in a behind-the-track interview. The band wanted to come up with something more complex to contrast the simplistic body of the song, which is mainly two chords.
  • In the bridge, piano and strings converge in a powerful crescendo and drop back down. Rzeznik sees this as a symbolic moment. "It was a musical analogy of what this person was going through because it just rises so high and then the bottom drops out," he explained. "And then you start the long trip back to being yourself 'til the end of the song. 'I'll become what you became to me.' It just sort of ends where it began."
  • For the music video, the band reunited with Nancy Bardawil, who directed the videos for "Iris" and "Slide." The black-and-white clip takes place at a '50s-style swim club where beautiful women in vintage bathing suits swim in the pool as the band performs. Rzeznik explained how the director achieved the shot of him hovering against the backdrop of the pool. "This is where I think Nancy started to hate me, because she got a welder and a crane and she had them weld a spring and a harness to the top of a cherry picker," he recalled. "And I was over a swimming pool about 20 feet in the air wobbling back and forth like a bobble head over this pool full of these gorgeous girls just swimming back and forth."
  • This was featured in the movies Down To You (2000) and Here On Earth (2000). It was also used on the TV show Cold Case in the 2007 episode "That Woman."

Comments: 47

  • J from MnDevera, I think the song could help. Music can help us understand that we aren't the only ones feeling a certain way. I'm very sorry for your family's loss.
  • Devera from IowaMy sister just lost her former fiance to a heroin overdose and she is devastated. They had been split up for about a year but she never gave up hope that he would be able to stop using. He sent her a very sweet text the Saturday before he died talking about her beautiful smile and telling her to take care of her kids and his favourite cat. She says she just wants to go a be with him. She has a daughter who is 18 and a son who is 8. She has a therapist but will not go to her about this. He overdosed on the 3rd and was not found until the 5th. She was able to see him on the 6th and I told her it was black balloon day and she went to the river where he had proposed to her and released a black balloon that night. I heard this song on my way to work and wondered if this might be something she could listen to so she can have more of an understanding about heroin addiction. I certainly do not want to make her more depressed. Any opinions?
  • Ash from Brick, NjYea you can't die from heroin huh? bring back my neighbor who overdosed genious and then maybe ill believe it
  • Rahul from Chennai, Indiaim going with jared from meadville
  • Aaron from Tulsa, Oklets me say first that you actually you can die from air being injected into your veins. it takes 100 cc's to die from it which is a lot but as soon as it hits your heart it seizes your aorta and you go into cardiac arrest. secondly black balloon is referring to an eight ball because its packed in balloons by major dealers for sale and hidden discreetly if you know what i mean. and it refers to the fact that heroin is a tar opiate, like poppy seeds. heroin is glorified so people talk highly of it alot in the realm of rock stardom. and when you are on it you become a recluse and you hate to be outside in front of people. it was the things they never showed you, that swallowed the light from the sun. i.e. kurt cobain, layne staley, and chris farley.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnTheir best song. It gives me chills.
  • Chelle from Hilo, Ca"You know the lies they always told you And the love you never knew Whats the things they never showed you That swallowed the light from the sun Inside your room and And theres no time left for losin When you stand they fall"

    i think it means that she/he has been abused and lied to in the past... this abuse and lack of love is like a blackhole in that person's life, in that person's inner sanctum, if you will, their metaphorical room or heart... and as she/he stands up for themselves, those abusers fall... lol... random interpretation of those lyrics... i love this song...
  • Sarah from Myerstown, Pa...Okay there are some things on here that show how little society knows about heroin.

    You'd be pretty hard pressed to tie up with a baloon... that's prolly just a reference to heroin

    And, air bubbles or "baloons" will NOT kill you. That is a myth. I used to be addiced to heroin; I'd be dead if that were true.
  • David from Pittsburgh, PaVery good insight on this song, but can someone explain some other lines like:

    You know the lies they always told you
    And the love you never knew
    Whats the things they never showed you
    That swallowed the light from the sun
    Inside your room

    and

    And theres no time left for losin
    When you stand they fall
  • Becca from Npr, FlThis song is about heroin. The guitarist?s wife wrapped a black balloon around her arm in order to inject the drug into her vein. And he almost got caught up in the drugs, ("I almost fell into that hole in your life").
    The "ice from the spoon" refers to the drug that she heats on a spoon. He tries to save her by showing her the love she never felt and that she looks for in heroin. The drug is her "womb," or her shelter from the harsh realities of life.
  • Sandy from Herne, GermanyI love this song so much!
    And since I read what it is about I love it even more!
    It's unbelievable ...
    So much feeling and emotion in that song ...
  • Samantha from Fairfield, OhThis song is just about watching someone you love so much screw up so bad. In his case, on heroin. It's still an amazing song that completes the album "Dizzy up the Girl"
  • Renee from Pittsburgh, PaEverybody listen up, black balloon represents heroin. "Black tar" heroin often comes in balloons so that the dealer can swallow it and then throw it up later if he or she should need to...(a run in with authorities)
    Black balloon does not mean what she ties off with. A balloon is no where long enough to wrap around your arm. think about it. take it from me I was a heroin addict for 4 years. I've been clean for 1 1/2 years now . I lost my best friend to an overdose and this song means alot to me. "a thousand other boys could never reach you, how could i have been the one?" My friend who died actually talked me into getting clean, which many others had tried before him. Sad that he "feel into that hole in my life" and never came out...I love you Aaron and I miss you...Thank you
  • Rui Tsukino from San Fernando Pampanga, Japani loved this song the very first moment i heard it... but that's unusual because i don't normally "interact" with a song i don't understand yet... but this spoke directly to my heart.

    "a thousand other boys could never reach you
    how could i have been the one?"
    kinda familiar question...
    why was it destined for Johnny to be the one close enough to Rob's ex-wife for him to understand her?
    hmm... maybe for us to hear something more than "just a song"... or be awakened from a life that is seemingly a dream, a fairy tale...

    remember this: there will always be a gap, a "hole", and endless abyss deep in our souls. it might "seemingly" disappear in a little while when we replace it with material things, or heroin, in her case... but it will never satisfy our hunger, our longing, our dissatisfaction mainly because those things are not really enough to fill that void up... it's God's "place" in our hearts... nothing can replace Him...
    only when we accept Him will we realize that we no longer have an emptiness in our hearts.
  • Andrew from New Bethlehen, PaYeah, if you hate Robby, you hate the entire band. He is as much of the band as Johnny and his charisma on stage makes everything brighter.
  • Gmoney from Bmore, Mdi dont know how anyone could hate robbie, he is the one who held the band together when johnny wanted to quit cuz he and the origional drummer (George Tutuska )didnt get along....would out robbie, the goo goo dolls wouldnt exist......and for the abortion comment above, that would be the song "slide" not black balloon
  • Sara from San Diego, Cai think this is definately about heroin...black tar is a type of heroin...and the title black balloon shows that...overdoses on heroin is easier...but getting "bubbles" or "balloons" in your needle can cause you to die also...as for the other lyrics they are like erin says and pretty self explanatory
  • Sarah from Buffalo, NyI think when he says "And you're not thinking 'bout tomorrow" hes referring to the fact that she isnt considering the consequences and that fact that using the drug may result in a bad tomorrow.
  • Brandon from Sterling, VaAnd its a man that overdosed on Heroin he says so "the havok it reaked on every one around him" that's what he says in the into on storytellers
  • Danielle from Stafford, EnglandBlack balloon is the best goo goo dolls song, closely followed by better days, truth is a whisper and iris.
  • Leah from Humboldt, Iai think this may be my favorite song off dizzy up the girl.
  • Meek from V-town, NyJer; those two songs do not sound alike at all
  • Rick from Humboldt, Iaok well u2 is my second favorite band and the dolls are my fourth and i don't think these two songs sound alike at all.
  • Jer from Closter, NjI started listening to this song on iTunes, and I thought, "Did my iTunes screw up? I chose "Black Balloon" not U2! The begining sounds exactly like U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". I started listening to this song on iTunes, and I thought, "Did my iTunes screw up? I chose "Black Balloon" not U2!Did they get in trouble or did they use the track or what?
  • Rick from Humboldt, Iayeah you might think that since malinan is their second drummer, he's just a crappy replacement. but he's not, he is really really good!
  • Deuce from Salt Lake City, Utkristen is totally right!!! how can u guys hate on robbie like that? without him there would be no goo goo dolls! his stuff is really good once u get into it, it is just as good as rzezniks. so dont hate on rob just because u have no clue what your talking about. also malinin needs a bit of credit too, his drum play is amazing
  • Renae from Mill Grove, Pa"Black ballon" sounds like a metaphor for heroin. This song reminds me of the act of breaking up with someone who is careless and selfish.
  • Crystalee from Divide, CoGreat interpretation Erin.
    This song IS about heroin. She did wrap a black balloon around her arm in order to inject the drug into her vein. And he did almost get caught up in the drug use, ("I almost fell into that hole in your life"). He watches her life crumble before his eyes. The "ice from the spoon" refers to the drug that she heats on a spoon to prepare it for injection. He tries to save her by showing her the love she never felt and that she looks for in heroin. The drug is her "womb," or her shelter from the harsh realities of life. It was this that caused her death, despite his attempts to save her. The lines "And I go on as you grow colder" and "Or are you someone's prayer?" reveals that heroin took her life. Though this is a sad demise, the song ends with hope. "And I'll become what you became to me" shows that he has learned what love is. She, with all her problems, enveloped him with her love and devotion, and this was important to him. He wants to be like that, minus the addiction. She taught him about love, an invaluable lesson, despite her untimely death.

  • Kristen from Trenton-ish, NjIf you all hate Robbie then you all hate the Goo Goo Dolls and you actually like Reznik, who does some solo stuff, so just drop the Goo's and start liking Reznik solo. The Goo's wouldnt be what they are without Rob. If you listen to their older cd's Rob sings most of the songs ... When they switched over to more pop rock then regular rock, Reznik took over the vocals, I guess cause he has more of the boyband charm. Which is fine, I dont care.

    But I think it's rude and immature to go pissing about how much you hate a band member of a band you like.
  • Lindsey from Stanton, KyThis song is about a girl who is addicted to heroin. The black balloon is what herion comes in.
  • Carly from San Diego, CaTo rick: yea! I love the goo's but i seriously hate that Robbie. When im listening to their cd and a "Robbie song" comes on I change it. I always think how good some songs could be if Johnny sang them instead.
  • Carly from San Diego, CaI love the Goo Goo Dolls and they are one of my favorite bands. If anyone wants to chat my e-mail is googoogirl55@yahoo.com
  • Jonie from Alameda, CaThis is such a dark song. I love it, especially the intro right before the acoustic chords. Broke five strings trying to tune my guitar so I could play it :)--well, not at the same time, I tried about thrice before giving up.
    It's one of those songs that gets you so depressed thinking about the darker side of things, then you get amazed that this song can spark those thoughts and emotions. I'm just fascinated by it. Dark, smooth, bittersweet, and you never do find out how they make it. Like dark chocolate.
  • Maria from London, EnglandI read in an interview that the addict this is about didnt overdose she actually became a nurse and helps people with drug addiction.. as for the song its just sheer perfection!
  • Daniel from Mercedes, Txif you guys never watched storytellers, he mentioned it is about someone's heroin addiction.
  • Nathan from Hot Springs, ArNo, its not about heroin or depression or pregnancy or abortion. You won't understand what its about unless you've met the type with the disorder.
  • Ruby from Perth, Australiai rad somewhere that robbys wife was pregnant..... thers a pictire of a pregnant woman floatin away on the inside of the cd....
  • Michelle from Merced, Caactually its about a friend overdosing on heroin
  • Jen from Boulder, CoFirst favorite song ever. That's how songs go, ya know. It always struck me how well-layered this song is; I just want to commend those guys for writing something with such a storyline in its music. Listen carefully and notice how the instruments build up, and specifically which instruments build up... the viola, the cello, etc. Beautiful.
  • Rick from Baltimore, MdLove the GooGoo Dolls....but...is it just me, or does everyone hate that Robbie Takac?? I mean he can't sing a lick (sounds like a dying cat caught in the engine of my truck) and he looks genuinely retarded live on stage!! I mean, I know he's Johnny's friend and all but c'mon allready! Bassplayers are a dime a dozen!
  • Erin from St.peters, CanadaThis song is about Johnny Reznik writting it about Rob Takac's ex-wife. It may not all be true, but thats what its about. And a black balloon is what they put around there arm to inject Haroin into there arms. And the first line of the song ("baby's black balloon make's her fly"), is when shes gettin all high from the Heroin, and "comming down the world turned over", is when shes comming out of her high. All the lyrics have a connection. And the song is about how he almost got into them with her ("I almost fell into that hole in your life"). And how he was the only one that understood her, and she wasint loved and he was the only one that knew. Then at the end she dies, and he says "I'll become, what you became to me", hes not saying that hes going to go and do the same thing as her, but that she taught him how to love, so hes going to do the same. I love this song very much, and its a good lesson to everyone.
  • Evan from Acworh, GaOne of my all time favorite songs... I listen to this song over and over when one of my good friends died
  • Tash from Sydney, AustraliaThis song i think has to do with something to do with either a herion addict or depressed person.. i think it has alot to do with the struggle of the people around the person in question, seeing what they are going through and trying to help them n stuff.. thats only my interpretation.. n i love that song too! it is so beautiful.. in a sad depressing kinda way
  • Jared from Meadville, PaOk, here's the deal. Johnny Reznik wrote it about his best friends ex wife. His best friend also happens to be the Goo Goo Dolls bass player, Rob Takac. The ltrics were lft to be kind of intentioanlly vague so as not expose all of the details of what happened, because it is a difficult song to perfom live. Plus, he respects rob. For his part, Takac has described it as "the best thing we have ever recorded" (VH-1 Behind the Music). Although, no specific refernces are made, it is most likley about heroin abuse (slang, see Monster Magnet's "Balck Balloon, circa 1992. Completely different song. Same subject matter). Takac claims he has never spoken to Rexnik about this song, because they both know what it is about.
  • Nicole from Sf, CaFor me it's about loosing someone really close to you to depression.
  • Rebekah from Prince George, VaTo me its about getting pregnant andthen leaving you because of it. I can relate
  • Kat from Lancaster, PaThis comment is for "Black Balloon" by the Goo Goo Dolls...okay well I wanted to see what's it's actually about...My guess is that it's about his girlfriend having an abortion or something along those lines...I don't know..i love the song though.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jimmy JamSongwriter Interviews

The powerhouse producer behind Janet Jackson's hits talks about his Boyz II Men ballads and regrouping The Time.

Gary LewisSongwriter Interviews

Gary Lewis and the Playboys had seven Top 10 hits despite competition from The Beatles. Gary talks about the hits, his famous father, and getting drafted.

Edwin McCainSongwriter Interviews

"I'll Be" was what Edwin called his "Hail Mary" song. He says it proves "intention of the songwriter is 180 degrees from potential interpretation by an audience."

AdeleFact or Fiction

Despite her reticent personality, Adele's life and music are filled with intrigue. See if you can spot the true tales.

Vanessa CarltonSongwriter Interviews

The "A Thousand Miles" singer on what she thinks of her song being used in White Chicks and how she captured a song from a dream.

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike Rutherford talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.