This is the Goo Goo Dolls' last studio album with George Tutuska on drums; he was replaced by Mike Malinin just before the album was released. This album is the Goo Goo Dolls' first studio album to not have 14 tracks. The song "Stand Alone" was written by George Tutuska, and because John Rzeznik didn't want to exploit George's efforts after his dismissal, the song was only included on a promo version of the album. On the wide-release version, it is replaced with "Disconnected" and "Slave Girl", which were initially B-sides to the "Only One" single. On the same promo, "Ain't That Unusual" was labeled as "Someday". The two replacement songs are covers of songs by defunct Buffalo and Sydney punk bands The Enemies and Lime Spiders.
The song "Name" is well known as the Goo Goo Dolls' first hit. According to lead singer John Rzeznik, the song's unusual composition came about "quite accidentally".
On June 5, 1996, the band's label, Warner Bros., released a statement claiming that Walmart had decided to stop selling A Boy Named Goo because some Walmart customers had complained that the album cover was offensive. The statement claimed that some customers had incorrectly thought that the child on the cover was smeared in blood rather than blackberry juice. Walmart acknowledged that they had decided to stop selling the album, but denied Warner Bros.'s claim that this was because of complaints about the cover art, instead ascribing the decision to weak sales. Of the reports that Walmart customers had thought that the child on the cover was smeared in blood, Rzeznik said, "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?"