John Rzeznik will always be associated with the city of Buffalo, where he grew up and where his band The Goo Goo Dolls started out in the ’80s. But he has been living in Westfield for the past five years or so, and is very happy about it.
“This is the first place that I’ve lived since I left Buffalo to actually feel like it’s home,” he told fellow Westfield resident Mitch Slater on the latest installment of Slater’s “Financially Talking” podcast, which you can listen to in its entirety, below. “It’s got that feel, like, your neighbors actually talk to you, and hang out. So I love that.”
He has performed and donated auction items for Westfield’s “Be the Light” initiative, which is raising money for local hunger programs. And he performed in a virtual fundraiser that the Jersey-based Light of Day Foundation recently put together to support the charitable Asbury Park Dinner Table organization.
Rzeznik was one of the co-headliners of the main concert of the 2014 Light of Day festival at Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre, where an unannounced guest made a memorable appearance.
“That was my big chance to meet Bruce Springsteen,” said Rzeznik on the podcast. “It didn’t go well. I saw him comin’ up the stairs. And I looked at him. I was like, ‘Hey.’ And I was like … ‘I don’t know what to say to you.’ … What do you say? What do you say to Bruce Springsteen? ‘What kind of strings do you use, pal?’? I don’t know. … I figured the best thing I should have done was just say, ‘Hey, man, big fan of your music. Thank you for everything.’ But I didn’t. I panicked.”
The Goo Goo Dolls have new holiday album, It’s Christmas All Over, and Rzeznik performed a moving version of one of the songs he co-wrote for it, “This Is Christmas,” on the podcast. He said he had planned to record a Christmas song for a compilation this year, but not a whole Christmas album. But then the pandemic hit and he changed course.
“All I kept feeling was, like, this is going to be a bad year for a lot of people,” he told Slater. “This is going to be a bad year, a lonely year, a stressful year, especially at the holidays. And I know the holidays can be very stressful. You know, I’m a recovering alcoholic, so the holidays were always really difficult for me. So I understood that there was going to be a lot of those kinds of things going on, and everybody just locked in their houses, during this pandemic. And I said, ‘Let’s go make a fun record, just to get people’s minds off things for a half an hour or 40 minutes.’ ”
The main “silver lining” of the pandemic for him, he said, “is that I’ve got to spend more time with my daughter, who is 3, than I have her whole life — her little short life. This is the longest that she and I have been together. And that was great.
“The other thing that was really a huge silver lining was just watching the whole town with the mayor, Shelley Brindle … just really go at (the pandemic), and really pull the community together. We live in a great place.
“Watching how people got together, that’s another thing that is really amazing. And having the opportunity to give back. I’ve been so lucky, and so blessed, my whole life.”
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