Forrest Gump: The Soundtrack

Music review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Forrest Gump: The Soundtrack Music Poster Image
Stellar showcase of rock, soul, pop from '50s, '60s, '70s.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

In almost three dozen songs spanning three decades, there's quite a variety of messages. Some are sweet tunes about peace and love ("What the World Needs Now," "Let's Get Together"), others explode with political fury ("Fortunate Son") or hope ("Volunteers"). Several '60s songs seem to celebrate drugs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The songs are varied, but most of their characters, like Forrest Gump himself, manage to stay upbeat and on a good path. Bob Dylan's "everybody must get stoned!" chorus of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" may require a bit of explaining. Other songs offer more wholesome advice, from the Youngbloods' "get together and love one another" to the Fifth Dimension's "Let the Sun Shine In." Darker, more thoughtful songs like Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and the Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin'" proceed from a standpoint of moral conviction. Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant defends his home state against the nasty things Neil Young said about it in "Sweet Home Alabama."


Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" involves less lucky people being sent to war; Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" describes armed cops trying to scare people for no clear reason.


Aretha Franklin's "Respect" is very much about the singer getting r-e-s-p-e-c-t in the form of s-e-x when her lover gets home, including the lines  "whip it to me" in a chorus and  "roll it out" in the outro.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Beach Boys' version of the folk song "Sloop John B," drunken crew members contribute to "the worst trip I've ever been on." Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and The Supremes' "Stoned Love" seem to take drug use as a positive thing.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that like the Best-Picture Oscar-winning movie Forrest Gump, its soundtrack offers a travelogue through three eventful 20th-century decades. One of those decades was the '60s, so some of the songs have drug references, from Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" ("Everybody must get stoned!") to The Supremes' dreamy "Stoned Love," and there are anthems from the revolutionary to the hippie-dippy. The 34-song, two-CD set as a whole rises above the usual greatest-hits collection in that it emphasizes songs that weren't just the soundtrack of the time, they reflected the popular mood, gathered people around a cause, created a new sense of urgency. There are probably some great conversation-starters with your kids here.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTrevorsHeartburn September 22, 2015

Subpar Compositions Reflect the Mediocrity of the Motion Picture

While these particular compositions captured a general sense of post-modern musical literature, the compositions failed to meet the standards of even the least... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bymoviewannabe April 19, 2013

Great soundtrack

Greatest songs on this two-disc album (in my opinion) are "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley, "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival,... Continue reading

What's the story?

This two-disc CD soundtrack was a surprise hit when Forrest Gump hit the big screen in 1994, its tunes tracking the lead character's progress through the turbulent times of the '50s, '60s, and '70s. From culture-shifting pop (Elvis Presley's \"Hound Dog\") to political anthems (Jefferson Airplane's \"Volunteers\") to wistful ballads (Jackie DeShannon's \"What the World Needs Now\"), many of these songs aren't just musical wallpaper; they helped define the era and what Americans were thinking.

Is it any good?

As large and diverse as this collection is, you're almost sure to have some of the tracks already, and many of the rest of them -- e.g. Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," Aretha Franklin's "Respect," Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World," Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way," Bob Seger's "Against the Wind," Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" -- are oldies-channel staples. But what these tracks lack in rarity they make up for in quality; they seem to have been carefully selected to reflect or comment upon something unique and essential happening at a particular moment in time, from Duane Eddy's power chords on "Rebel Rouser" to Creedence Clearwater Revival's furious "Fortunate Son" to Randy Newman's "Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)." As such, they rise above mere background music, and may introduce kids to some worthy artists they've missed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what some of these songs meant to the parents and grandparents of today's kids when they were kids themselves. How did Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" change everything for millions of teens, for example?

  • What do you think Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" is about? Do you know what the guys in the band went on to do?

  • Have you ever seen the movie The Graduate, where the song "Mrs. Robinson" first appeared? What did you think of that movie?

Music details

  • Artist: Various Artists
  • Release date: January 1, 1994
  • Type: Album
  • Label: Sony Music
  • Genre: Compilation
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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