“Stacy’s Mom” was a saving grace for Fountains of Wayne. By the time 2003 rolled around, the band – comprised of Chris Collingwood, Adam Schlesinger, Jody Porter, and Brian Young – had released two middling successful albums and had been dropped by Atlantic Records.
After exploring other options like session work and playing with other bands, the group rebranded with their third LP, Welcome Interstate Managers. Their new sound catapulted them onto pop radio with the lead single “Stacy’s Mom” paving the way.
The ode to adolescent fantasies landed the four-piece on the Billboard charts for the first time and earned them two Grammy nominations. It is undoubtedly the band’s calling card and remains a perennial track of the early ’00s.
We all know the insatiably catchy chorus, but what inspired Fountains of Wayne to pen this pop rock gem? We’re going through the meaning and origin of “Stacy’s Mom” below.
Behind the Meaning
As Schlesinger and Collingwood tell it, “Stacy’s Mom” was inspired by a friend who revealed he had a crush on Schlesinger’s grandmother growing up. In their own words, they chalk it up to, “that period when you’re first hitting puberty and suddenly everybody of the opposite sex is strangely attractive. It’s a combination of sexual awakening and limited contact with a large number of people. It’s the kids at school and whoever else happens to be in your life.”
Stacy’s mom, though not inspired by any one person directly, is emblematic of those misaligned crushes that can pop up around adolescence. In the lyrics, Collingwood makes a date with a girl from his class with the ulterior motive of seeing her mom (played by model Rachel Hunter in the video – more on the video below). Elsewhere he rationalizes his crush and explains why he’s the perfect fit for her despite their age gap before jumping into that now iconic chorus.
Schlesinger once said he hoped to strike a balance between “humor and personality” with the song while influences from power pop music a la The Cars or Rick Springfield inspired the sonic direction. Of course, Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” was also a jumping-off point.
Did your mom get back from her business trip?
Is she there, or is she trying to give me the slip?
(Give me the slip)
You know, I’m not the little boy that I used to be
I’m all grown up now
Baby, can’t you see?
Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on
She’s all I want
And I’ve waited for so long
Stacy, can’t you see?
You’re just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong but
I’m in love with Stacy’s mom
Music Video and Paying Homage
Chris Applebaum directed the accompanying video for “Stacy’s Mom” and packed it full of pop culture nods. As said earlier, The Cars’ Ric Ocasek was an influence for Fountains of Wayne and they made sure to fete him and the rest of the band heavily in the video.
Among the references is a license plate on Stacy’s mom’s car reading “I <3 RIC,” one of Stacy’s classmates dressed like Ocasek, and an homage to Pheobe Cates’ Fast Times at Ridgemont High pool scene – which was scored by The Cars’ “Moving in Stereo.”
Schlesinger died of Covid complications in 2020. Upon announcing his death, the rest of the band was worried about his legacy being boiled down to “a punchline.” Collingwood told Rolling Stone, “He was too good a writer to have that be his calling card. It’s sad to me that people reading his obituary will all know that song, and only a very tiny percentage of them will ever hear ‘I-95’ or ‘The Girl I Can’t Forget.'”
Regardless of their bittersweet relationship with the song, it continues to proliferate their name nearly 20 years after its release. It’s landed countless film tie-ins and hits compilations. It received a rebirth in 2011 when Bowling for Soup covered the track as a B-side to their single, “I’ve Never Done Anything Like This.” The cover was a response to the song being misattributed to BFS on Youtube and by a number of fans. The cover art for the cover reads “Finally you can say this is your favorite song by BFS and not look like an idiot!”
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc