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Albums on my Shelf: The Goo Goo Dolls - Dizzy Up the Girl

Katrina Northern reminisces over the album that introduced her to rock music as part of our Albums on my Shelf series

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googooUsually when I rave about The Goo Goo Dolls to friends they look at me blankly until I've wailed my way through at least two verses of 'Iris'. Written for the City of Angels soundtrack, 'Iris' is probably the defining song of their career. But take a look at this album, and the others, because they have a lot more to offer. Dizzy Up the Girl (1997) was their sixth studio album and their most pivotal in terms of commercial stateside success. I would define the band as acoustic, string-laden rock, favouring unique guitar tunings and inventive riffs.

I first discovered the Goo Goo Dolls through my older brother, whose music selection accompanied our Football Manager sessions. He seemed to have all the world's music at his fingertips (I had yet to discover the internet) and attempted to show me there was more to the world than Steps and Westlife (I was young... ish). He introduced me to the world of alternative rock music and to the guitar.

The band have been together for over twenty-five years and are currently working on their next album. Among my favourite songs from this album are 'Black Balloon', 'Slide', 'Acoustic #3' and 'Broadway', which are all sung and written by lead-singer Johnny Rzeznik. In Rzeznik's lyrics there are traces of the influence of his alcoholic father and the pain of losing both his parents before he'd finished high school. It was this formative period that led him to the guitar and to the pen.

The sombre simplicity of 'Acoustic #3' is enchanting, if moderately depressing, with clear autobiographical detail ("and your mother loves your father / cause she's got nowhere to go"). The beauty of each song is that, even if it's not specifically what they're about, each person can find a lyric that resonates with them. They are all relevant to human experience. 'Black Balloon' is one of my all-time favourite songs - for its composition, lyrics and vocals. It is about someone trying to save their lover from heroin addiction ("I almost fell into that hole in your life"), more broadly Rzeznik has said it is about the pain and desperation of seeing a loved one mess up their life. 'Broadway' is Rzeznik's reflections on his home neighbourhood in Buffalo, evoking memories of his father's alcoholism ("you choke down all your anger / forget your only son") and what it was like to haunt Broadway avenue, wanting to be acknowledged ("you see you'd love to run home, but you know you ain't got one"). There is undoubtedly a lot of pain in these songs, but they are not bereft of hope and positivity, some of the things that the Goo Goo Dolls, and those who follow them, have found in music.

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