Adriana ( Greece )
The Song “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls – Adriana’s goosebump moment
“Hi, I’m Adriana and I’m from Greece. My goosebump moment was when I heard for the first time the song “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls. I enjoyed its music very much and the more rock style it has in it. But also, its lyrics. They are more romantic, but also about a sad story I feel. So, the music matches perfectly with the singer’s voice and whenever I hear it, I get goosebumps. I also enjoyed the video of their concert very much. It is uploaded on their channel on YouTube. They did a concert, and it was pouring rain, but the crowd was there, they enjoyed the show, no one left, and the song is just epic while it’s pouring rain, you should see it.”
A Tale of Heartache, Inspiration, and Musical Evolution
Johnny Rzeznik’s life wasn’t working out the way he’d planned it. The band he fronted – the Goo Goo Dolls – looked to have peaked with their 1995 hit name. His confidence as a songwriter was in tatters. Worst of all, the collapse of his marriage had left him living out of a suitcase in a hotel in downtown LA.
In the late 1990s, Johnny Rzeznik, the lead singer and songwriter of the Goo Goo Dolls, found himself at a crossroads in his life. His marriage had ended, he had relocated to Los Angeles, and his musical career was at a critical juncture. Little did he know that this tumultuous period would give birth to one of the most iconic songs of his career: “Iris.”
“It was 1997, and I was feeling kind of schizophrenic,” Rzeznik recalls. “My wife and I had just broken up, and I’d met another girl who I was really into. I’d moved from my home in Buffalo, New York, and was living in this hotel. So it was a really manic time in my life. I was looking for something to hold on to.”
As always, Rzeznik turned to music as his solace and inspiration. The catalyst for “Iris” came from an unexpected source: a movie. On the morning of the day he wrote the song, Rzeznik had attended an advance screening of “City of Angels,” a film starring Nicolas Cage as an angel who gives up his immortality for love. While Rzeznik didn’t particularly enjoy the movie, he had a compelling reason to contribute to its soundtrack.
“I didn’t actually think it was very good,” he explains. “I just thought it was a sanitized version of [Wim Wenders’s 1987 film] “Wings of Desire.” But one of the reasons I wanted to do a song was because the soundtrack had U2 and Peter Gabriel on it, and I wanted to be on the same piece of plastic as them. It made me feel like I was hobnobbing with musical royalty. I thought that someday I could show it to my kids – tell them their old man was once on a record with Bono and Peter Gabriel.”
Back in his hotel room, Rzeznik was amazed by how quickly “Iris” took shape. He reflects on the songwriting process, saying, “Most of the time, for me, writing involves procrastination, fear, doubt, criticism… Most songs I write I have to torture myself; be a prima donna for about an hour. But “Iris” came so easy. I’d broken two strings on my guitar, so I’d started winding all the strings up and down in these weird configurations, and that song just came out. It was like a gift – like: ‘Oh, thanks God!'”
The lyrics of “Iris” were deeply influenced by the film’s theme of sacrificing immortality for love. Rzeznik explained, “When I wrote it, I was thinking about the situation of the Nicolas Cage character in the movie. This guy is completely willing to give up his own immortality just to be able to feel something very human. And I thought, ‘Wow! What an amazing thing it must be like to love someone so much that you give up everything to be with them.’ That’s a pretty heavy thought.”
The title of the song, “Iris,” came to Rzeznik as the final piece of the puzzle. He humorously admits, “I’m horrible at naming songs, so it’s the last thing I do. I was looking through a magazine called ‘LA Weekly’ and saw that a great singer-songwriter called Iris DeMent was playing in town. I was, like: ‘Wow! What a beautiful name.'”
“Iris” marked a significant departure from the Goo Goo Dolls’ punk roots. It was the first time the band had incorporated a 15-piece string ensemble into their music. Rzeznik recalls the moment when he realized the song’s transformative impact, saying, “I remember kneeling in front of the control room window, looking out at this 15-piece string ensemble, then looking at Robby [Takac, bassist] and saying: ‘I really think we’re turning a corner here, and I don’t know if I want to.'”
However, this evolution was a reflection of Rzeznik’s personal growth as an artist. He explains, “When I was 18, I played three power chords and wanted to be Paul Westerberg. But as you grow up, you change, you want different things, and your art has to stay in step with where you are emotionally. So I guess “Iris” is partly the sound of me growing up.”
“Iris” was an undeniable success, propelling the “City of Angels” soundtrack to the top of the US chart in June 1998 and bolstering the Goo Goo Dolls’ own album, “Dizzy Up The Girl.” The song itself embarked on a five-week run at No. 9 in the US, cementing the Goo Goo Dolls’ place in the commercial music landscape.
In the end, “Iris” became more than just a soundtrack contribution; it became an enduring classic that resonates with listeners worldwide. Its creation was a testament to Johnny Rzeznik’s resilience, emotional depth, and willingness to embrace change in both his personal life and artistic journey.
More About The Song “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls:
- Goo Goo Dolls – Wikipedia
- Top 10 Fascinating Facts about Goo Goo Dolls
- The Tragic Real-Life Story Of The Goo Goo Dolls