Throwback Thursday: “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls

This one is probably my ultimate throwback song. I have such vivid memories of listening to it over and over and over when I was in middle/high school. “Iris” just has a lot of heart disguised in its slouchy guitar chords. They start out loose, but quickly grow into something stronger when the chorus hits. That’s when you hear the desperation that’s at the core of the song: “And I don’t want the world to see me/’Cause I don’t think that they’d understand.” (I typed that out from memory. I’ve listened to “Iris” more often, and more recently, than most of the other Throwback Thursday songs or albums that I’ve discussed here.)

“Iris” also features a very long instrumental bridge before the final chorus. It’s got a gentle, plucking guitar that hovers over deeper bass. I always found that bridge to be kind of odd, and that it almost slows the song down. The beginning of “Iris” is so strong and tight, with solid momentum and a nice chorus/body structure.

What gets me about the song is the universal desire to be understood. Like I said, there’s desperation here, but there’s also an intriguing tension going on. “I’d give up forever to touch you/’Cause I know that you feel me somehow.” The narrator wants to be close to someone, but doesn’t want to be “seen” by the wider world. They feel vulnerable, too: there’s a “moment of truth in your lies.”

You can see how this song would be very appealing to a younger audience that’s just trying to grow up and figure things out. That’s certainly what it meant to me at least, back when I was an awkward teenager. Now that I’m older, those feelings haven’t changed; they’ve just taken a different shape.

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