A Ghost Is Born

Music review by
Tony Hicks, Common Sense Media
A Ghost Is Born Music Poster Image
Unorthodox CD for thoughtful teens.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

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.

What 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."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bypolydamus April 9, 2008
This album takes some getting used to but Wilco is the best band around nowadays. I wish I could get my teenager hooked...
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 n... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
There needs to be more music like this around these days. A great album!

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.

Talk to your kids 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

  • Artist: Wilco
  • Release date: June 22, 2004
  • Label: Nonsuch
  • Genre: Alternative Rock
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: July 15, 2015

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate