A Ghost Is Born

Common Sense Media says

Unorthodox CD for thoughtful teens.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite Tweedy's problems with substance abuse, there's still hope.


Minimal. A brief mention of a black eye coming from a lover in "At Least That's What You Said."


Nothing overt.


The word "s--t" is part of one song. "Hell" is in another title.


Not a factor.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One song paints a fairly bleak picture about drug use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although the very artistic Wilco's tone is usually serious, that doesn't equate to top-heavy, the-world-is-crashing-around-our-ears seriousness. Nor does it mean extreme profanity or celebration of drugs and alcohol, despite singer Jeff Tweedy's struggle with substance abuse and recovery while making the CD. There are some palatable feelings of tension, pain, and hope, lyrically and musically. There's also brief profanity (a few "holy s--t"s in one song and a "hell" in another title), and an obscure, anti-drug message in "Handshake Drugs."

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

While not portrayed as \"experimental,\" like Wilco's 2002 breakthrough Yankee Foxtrot Hotel was, A GHOST IS BORN might be even more unorthodox in parts. But that hardly affects its listenability (if one is looking for a true alternative to mainstream). Wilco shows as much imagination on this CD as on its predecessor, while going for a warmer, more earthy tone in places. But Tweedy's inner turmoil is evident all over this CD, especially in the pained guitar playing. Although there aren't any catchy hits like \"Heavy Metal Drummer\" here, there is much for thoughtful teens to explore.

Is it any good?


If you're the parent of a teen listening to Wilco in this time of meaningless disposable pop, you should jump for joy. You should react the same way as your parents should have reacted when you discovered Bob Dylan or the Beatles. The music is indeed alternative in its creativity and the lyrics are poetic and thought-provoking without revealing too much.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what Tweedy went through and how his feelings might have influenced the music. Can music -- either writing it or listening to it -- help soothe tough times? After listening to "Theologians," which is mildly anti-religious but pro-God, families can talk about religion and spirituality.

Music details

Release date:June 22, 2004
Genre:Alternative Rock
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

This review of A Ghost Is Born was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byBrando804 August 19, 2010
I love all Wilco and I've bought every album since I was for years old! I hate mainstream music, and Wilco is the only alternative to mainstream junk nowadays.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
There needs to be more music like this around these days. A great album!
Teen, 16 years old Written byFlip-flop April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Note That Should Be On Album: Buy Me!

For this review, I would like to say the exact opposite of what I think. A Ghost Is Born is a terrible album. All the songs are the same, and there is just too much of this kind of music around. Jeff Tweedy (lead singer) can't sing at all! The instruments sound like dying cats! Do not buy this album! Now, just flip what I said around, and you have my review!


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