A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
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.
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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?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love music for teens and tweens
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