Album: A Boy Named Goo (1995)
Charted: 5
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  • Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik wrote this about his childhood. He sings it to his sisters who raised him; both his parents died when he was young and his father was an alcoholic. The line, "We're grown up orphans who never knew their names" reflects his past.

    The title, though, and the line "And I won't tell no one your name," have a different inspiration that wasn't revealed until much later: Rzeznik's almost-romance with MTV VJ Kennedy, who tried to keep her real name secret. In her book The Kennedy Chronicles, she recalls how she and the singer shared a brief kiss and a series of flirtatious phone calls but didn't pursue anything more because he was married. In her interview with Rzeznik, included in the book, he admits, "It was pretty interesting to have a song inspired by a moment. And I thought it was a very sweet song."

    Rzeznik thanks Kennedy in the song credits, using her real name, Lisa Montgomery.
  • This was the Goo Goo Dolls' first hit. They had released four albums by then and had a large following in upstate New York, but this brought them national fame.
  • For The Goo Goo Dolls, this ballad was not typical of their sound. Considered an "alternative" group, "Name" crossed over to Pop and Adult Contemporary radio, greatly increasing their fan base, but alienating some core listeners who were used to their harder sound. "It's one component of what we do, but usually we're a lot harder," Rzeznik conceded in a 1995 interview with The Morning Call. "I wouldn't start writing songs like 'Name' all the time just because I thought that's what people wanted to hear. I'll write a song in the same vein because it's what I want to write."
  • The album title is a play on the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue." The cover shows a young boy smeared with blackberries, which caused a problem when Wal-Mart refused to stock the album because they thought it depicted a child abuse victim. When this story broke in the media, Wal-Mart backed off, convinced the cover was simply a boy and his goo.
  • The Geoff Moore-directed music video follows a bus full of passengers on a journey to nowhere (in reality a six-hour trip around Los Angeles) and incorporates black-and-white scenes of Rzeznik singing.
  • While the band was putting the album together, Rzeznik had no idea this would be a single - or even get noticed. "I put it in the middle of the record where I thought no one would find it," he explained. "Usually albums are frontloaded with singles."
  • The unusual D-A-E-A-E-E guitar tuning came about by accident. Rzeznik recalled in a radio interview with San Francisco's KFOG: "It was weird, I was just sitting on my couch randomly twisting the tuning pegs, and I couldn't figure out what notes the guitar was tuned to, so I had to grab my tuner to find out, and then I jotted them down on a Post-it." He added: "I just sat there and let my fingers play the fretboard openly, and that is what became the progression of 'Name.'"
  • The album's cover art features a little boy with blackberry juice smeared on his face. The image caused a kerfuffle with Walmart customers who mistook the juice for blood and accused the band of glorifying child abuse. The retail chain responded by pulling the CD from its shelves. Rzeznik commented on the controversy, saying, "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?"
  • When the Goo Goo Dolls didn't receive any royalties from the album, which sold two million copies, they sued their record label, Metal Blade, over their "grossly unfair, one-sided and unenforceable contract." They reached a settlement that allowed the band to sign with Metal Blade's distributing label, Warner Bros. Records, who issued their next album, Dizzy Up The Girl.
  • This was used on the TV series Being Erica in the 2009 episode "Papa Can You Hear Me?"
  • In 1996, Rzeznik told Guitar World magazine the song "is about having the inevitable regrets that come with growing up. With every decision you make in your life, you're going to have some regrets about which way it goes. You just have to choose which set of regrets you can live with the best, and try to minimize the amount of regrets you have."
  • Rzeznik recorded this using a "magic" Taylor guitar that's brought luck to several other acts. "Our producer at the time, Rob Cavallo, has this guitar that's been used by me, Green Day and so many other artists who have had hits with hit," he told American Songwriter. "I didn't have any great guitars back when I wrote 'Name.' I thought Rob was going to have a heart attack when I first started winding the strings up and down!"

Comments: 40

  • Luke M from Buffalo My childhood was very good growing up, I was very blessed. I used to hear this song a lot on the radio and my dad loved it, now being grown up, doing something I hate just to make a living, and thinking about my great childhood is a little upsetting. Life doesn’t turn out like how most of us hope it does. A lot of things you wanted to accomplish don’t happen. My favorite part is “cause all the dreams you never though you’d lose got tossed along the way” . I also like “I think about you all the time, but I don’t need the same”- this part reminds me of all the people you would do anything to have in your life but just didn’t feel the same about you. You have to make the best of life but this song just reminds me of reality.
  • Phil from Lincoln, NeKennedy (90s VJ on MTV) says it was written about her, and Johnny admits she was the inspiration, according to her book The Kennedy Chronicles.
  • David Amaral from Bathurst, AustraliaThese guys performed at a festival in Sydney in 2002 called M-One. The concert series was a flop but the line up of artist of awesome!!! Best music day of my life. Anyhow thats another story for another time. The Goo Goo Dolls was one bands I was looking forward to seeing as I was a huge fan of their stuff. They performed Slide and Broadway and before they started singing "Name", John Rzeznik said "This song needs no introduction" and started to sing the song "Name". Most of the people were expecting "Iris" as that was huge in Australia whereas "Name" didn't even chart out here, unlike America.
    Most of the time when a singer says that the crowd goes mental, well in this case the crowd was like, what is that song!!
    For myself, I knew the song and loved it that they played it but for most people it was not "Iris".

    I will say the M-One line up was Simple Plan (2nd band on stage as they were an unknown band), Default, Lifehouse, Nickelback, Tea Party, Midnight Oil, Billy Idol, Garbage, Goo Goo Dolls. Whitlams. I was front row all day and was just awesome.
  • Vinnie from Pvb, FlThis song came at a time when my marriage was in trouble. My now ex-wife could never get past the abuses she experienced as a young girl from a broken home. She is an alcoholic and had an absent father and no other father figure. She cheated so many times and I know it may sound crazy but she was the sweetest girl. "And even though the moment passed me by I still can't turn away". I couldn't give up on her because I knew that beautiful person was in there but she couldn't get rid of her dark side. "Scars are souvenirs you never lose, The past is never far". As good as I treated her, she still could not get past her self-destructive nature. We have 2 beautiful girls who are now young adults. I always hid their moms problems from my girls. I didn't want my babies to see that dark side. "But if you could hide beside me maybe for a while And I won't tell no one your name". I saw the Goo Goo Dolls last week, (My daughter took me for my birthday). I am a guitarist/singer and I performed Name for years. My daughters knew all my songs because I would try out all my material on them and their mom. We were always driving somewhere and my band music was always playing in the car. At the concert, I told my daughter (they are both aware now of their moms issues) that I performed this song because it reminded me so much of her mom and still does today because she has never defeated her demons. "I think about you all the time But I don't need the same It's lonely where you are come back down I won't tell 'em your name". I just added Name back into my setlist. We (me & my ex) are done but I still have hope that one day she will beat those demons and have a better relationship with my girls. I hope and pray that someday she'll get there. Every word still makes me think of her.
  • Gladys from Chicago, IlThis song came out a few days before my boyfriend passed away at 26. We were both heroin addicts, and basically he died because the drugs we'd bought that day were cut with something to which he was incredibly allergic; he went into anaphylactic shock and died almost instantly. I heard this song so many times that long winter as I tried to recover from both the loss and the addiction (I was ultimately successful beating the addiction, but the grief is a whole different story, even 17 years later). We were both huge Nirvana fans, and after Kurt Cobain's death, we could find (or imagine!) Kurt references in just about every song--this one included--but in the end it became one of my songs for sorrow. (I'm even getting weepy just typing this.) Such a beautiful song, and so perfectly-attuned to our generation's shared memory of growing up and trying to find some sort of future....
  • Tiff from Somewhere In Hell, CaI was born a orphan too.
  • Carlos R. Diaz from La Place, LaI love this song so much. It's very subtle with its emotional lyrics. This song definitely tugs at the heartstrings. My favorite line (or should I say image) is when the final black-n-white frame shows a little boy with both hands pressed against the window of a school bus and his somber face depicts the heart-wrenching emotions that deal with loss and longing. Yeah, that image is definitely a tearjerker; "namely" this entire sad, beautiful song. :-)
  • Dane from Green Cove Springs Fla., FlI loved this one the very first time I heard it.I like the words & music plus the overall feel.Seems kinda sad tho.
  • Brian from Boston, MaWhen this song first came out I thought it was Paul Westerberg.Paul Westerberg of course was the lead singer of the Replacements. The Goo Goo dolls were very much influenced by the Replacements.
  • Walter from Fort Lauderdale, Fl
    I'm in the process of learning this song because I play the guitar and sing for a living. Rzenik is awesome both lyric and music. As someone who has written lots of songs and knows other songwriters maybe explaining how most musicians write will help understand the song. Most the time they don't start with an idea of what the song is supposed to be about. They start with words that sound good and fit the melody they compose in the head. After a while the words and lines start taking on a defintion. Rzenik probably looks at it the same way all of you do. It could be about this or that. A great artist will leave so much up to your imagination and to his own.
  • Alex from Roggen, CoThis song goes with my life's past. I was born in Russia, parents died, 'cause they were alcoholics. Have a sister who is 18. I'm trying to watch over her. This song is really great to listen to, I always do. I play this song on my guitar even. I think this song is about someone he cares about, and loves. He has his past, troubles, and all of that. And that, he just tells about his life and what's going on.
  • Alex from Roggen, CoI think this song is really, really great. Basically, this song goes as part of my life's story/past. Same with me, my parents died when I was a kid. They were both alcoholics. I have one biological sister. And I was born in Russia. So, basically this whole song describes about my past & present. We all deal with problems. We all need someone there, to help us along the way. No matter where we are or what we do. We need someone there to count on. And them to count on us. Just as this song says, 'I think about you all the time. . .' It's like, you lost someone, or you can't stop thinking about that one and only person. I still have thoughts like that. I wonder about my real parents, and so does my sister. And, I'm 19 & she is 18, but ummm. I'm no proffesional, but, um. I wrote a song, and in my song it says. 'No matter how many walls you've always climbed, no matter how many people you've combined. Just always know that there's a time, where someone will be there for you.' If you ever want to see the rest of the song, just go on facebook. My name is Alex Anderson. So yeah. I just wanna say thank you so much for the Goo Goo Dolls, for writing & singing this song. You guys are awesome. Thanks again, so, so much. I am one of your greatest fans. I love your music, so keep it up. YOU GUYS ARE REALLY REALLY GREAT!
  • Katherine from Conway, ScWhen I first analyzed the lyrics, I thought that pretty much everything was symbolic. (Even though the moment passed me by I still can't turn away - I thought that this just meant that even though it's in the past it can't be let go. I thought that the song mainly was talking about how we get caught up in our daily lives and forget about what's really important to us. Also the "orphans" part I thought was simply saying that even though no one loves us, I will love you [You could hide beside me maybe for a while]) But, as I got to the end and saw the line, "It's lonely where you are, come back down" I knew that the whole song is probably talking about someone that died. Now that I have researched online, I've concluded that the song is about the singer being an orphan as his parents died, and him being raised by his sister. The song is to his sister and also to his parents-the part that says, "Now we're grown up orphans that never knew their names," is speaking to one of his sisters, and the part at the end is speaking to his parents.
  • Lance from Walterboro, ScI think this song is about life in general and how our lives are just an insignificant part of the whole,it's about how time passes us all by regardless of who we are, how emotional pain may be in the past but it is always with us in our heads and we can never really excape it. It's also about how we can get caught up so much in our own self importance that we forget where we came from and lastly it's about how we lose the hope and wonder of a childs imagination. In the end it is about LIFE. The lyrics to this song humble me and the music fits it perfectly. I appreciate songs like this, they help to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground. BTW, I think it is one of the best driving songs out there.

  • Shane from Haughton, LaThis is one of many Goo Goo Dolls songs I like. I believe that this song is about someone who has lost a close friend. They are begging them to come back because somehow that friend has lost themselves somewhere. I love to listen to this song, but on the down side it brings back memories of a recent relationship of mine. I lost my first love after a year being with her because she wanted something else. She was much older than I was, and she wanted to start going out to clubs rather than being with me. What hurts the most is that I know she fits right into that setting because she is beautiful, and knowing that any guy would love to be with her. In "Name", the line "did you get to be a star" stands out to me. I've been wanting to ask this girl if she got to become a star. Also the line "come back down, I won't tell no one your name" makes me think of how she is so far above me, and she would have to take a step down from her "club fame" to be with me again. This song by the Goo Goo Dolls is great though, and everybody should have a chance to listen to it. I promise that it's not always going to bring back memories, that's probably just me, but if you've never listened to it, it's a fantastic song.
  • Samantha from Fairfield, OhMy favorite line in the whole song is "i think about you all the time, and i dont need the same....its lonely where you are come back down and i wont tell em your name" It just makes me think of someone whos lost a friend and is just pleadding for them to come back. It's a very sad, but amazing song
  • Olga from Bat Yam, United StatesI think that "name" means : who you are- I won't tell 'em your name = i won't tell'em who you are. I love this song I think this one of the best songs ever written . to me , the line :" don't it make you sad to know that life is more then who we are" is just breathe taking and " a tiered song keeps playing on a tiered radio" is about when your life is just ovrewhelmed with boring routine - and so many nights when I went to sleep with that song playing in the backround - this is amazing.
  • Buddy from Barbourville, Kythis song is #1 on my list of the best songs of all kind! I love it and the lyrics just really hit me very very hard in the heart! sometimes its a tear jerker :-(
  • Stacy from Evansville, InThis song always hit home with me cause both my parents were dead by the time I was 27 and so the "grown up orphans" line gets me and the whole song just is perfect.
  • Sarah from Cleveland, OhI heard John Rzeznik discuss this song on the radio many years ago. He wrote it for his long time friend, Michelle. This song is about her problems and how he will help her get away from them for a while. The radio station even called Michelle herself to talk to her. TJohn and Michelle said they have always been strictly friends and never had an attraction to eachother.
  • Dawson from Draper, UtK, this song has some of the greatest lyrics ever. I kinda like lyrics that talk about your life, but it has amazing metaphors in it.
  • Brandon from Sterling, VaPatrick if you read it say by then they had had four albums indicating this is thier fifth
  • Patrick from Humboldt, IaA Boy Named Goo is my favorite, but it's not their fourth, it's their fifth.
  • Jay from Brooklyn, Nywhen i was about 12 years old i ran away from my home in arizona because both my parents died in a bridge collapse, and i basically became a drifter and lived with a group which consisted of other kids my age and teenagers, all of which also ran away from home. we lived from town to town and hopped trains from as far as california. After some time i was picked up by police and eventually was put up for adoption, and never saw my "family" again. this song reminds me of those times i has as a kid with other runaways. its a very emotionaly powerful song in general. and the last line in the song is what means the most to me. Despite the real meaning of the song, it reminds me of my runaway days.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesI think that "A Boy Named Goo" must rank as one of the worst album titles in history. Absolutely pants... Musically, it's a good album, though...
  • Ashlee from Seattle, Wathis song came out a year after my brother GOO past away from cancer. this song helped me get through the death. i still listen to it everyday to let me get through the day with out hurting that my most important is lost but not forgot. my brother was about 1 1/2 younger then me but he helped me be who i am today.this is the only song that relaxed me after him dying. i have my family but not really.
  • John from Flint, MiMy class song
  • Jennifer from Cleveland, Ohi can connect with this song because my mom died when i was 8 years old and i pritty much have no family other than my dad and bro cause the reast of them rejected me.
  • Rick from Humboldt, IaI'd say it's a cross between acoustic #3 and broadway. very good song.
  • Deuce from Salt Lake City, Uta lot of people compare this song with iris but i think they are a world apart. i think this song is really close to broadway tho. obviously broadway is a lot harder and rockier but they both run along the same lines of time passing you by. but they differ because i think 'name' is about regret as well. time passed you by but u regret not doing something (like telling someone how u really feel about them) when i listen to it, i think of a girl because thats in my situation but i think john is talkin bout his dad in this song and regretting that they did not get along to well while he was still alive. all in all its an amazing song and can mean both of those things
  • Scott from Columbus, OhI always felt he was singing this song in part to his siblings and part to his parents.
    In the end when he says: I think about you all the time (his parents)... But I don't need the same (to die)..It's lonely where you are, so come back down...and I won't tell em your name.

    This part to me says he's begging to have them back and he won't mention the shame he himself felt when he lost them or the shame they might feel for having left. It's a beautiful song in general and I think it can speak to very different situations. Which is what beautiful songs do.
  • Carly from San Diego, CaYa I love that line "dont it make you sad to know that life is more than who we are" makes me tear up a little sometimes
  • Shong from Wausau, Wijust i great song...about someone getting to live there dream...
  • Anna from Nyc, Nythis song never meant to much to me except when i lost my best frend. this song from my point of vew about two kids who get lost in te sauce " were grown up orphans that never knew their name" and " dont it make you sad to know that life is more han who we are." those lines kinda explane it to me. its like me n my frend
  • Kristen from Campbellville, CanadaSo like I'm confused what is it about. I always thought it was about orphans, so if anyone knows post it because I really want to know what its about.
  • Katie from Prince George, Canadai love this song. to me, its partly about being a good friend to someone and they say 'i wont tell them your name' when u just wanna hide.
  • Jessica from Toronto, CanadaI remember falling in love with this song and wanting to know the inspiration behind it. Then I watched or heard on an interiew with Johnny Rzeznik where he said that name was just a filler song he wrote to take up space on "A Boy Named Goo." He never expected it to become famous and did not like it so much so he just stuck it in the middle of the album.
  • Jami from Waynesboro, GaI belive this song may have some reference to John Rzeznik's childhood...both his parents died, within the same year, when Rzeznik was very young, hence "now we're grown up orphans"...I'm not sure, but I think there may be some connection there..
  • Justin Gregg from Harrah, OkThe song is said to have been about Rzenik's love affair with a famous person, but a relationship with them in the public might be rediculed too highly.
  • Rebekah from Prince George, VaTo me its about running from your past but you can't get away from it because everyone knmows your name
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