32 Classic Tunes from the Forrest Gump Soundtrack

Forrest Gump was one of the ’90s biggest hit films. Though its budget was only 55 million, the epic tale starring Tom Hanks grossed over 678 million at the box office. Supporting the movie’s emotional tale is a dynamic soundtrack full of blues classics, early rock ‘n roll hits, and popular protest songs.

Check out songs from the Forrest Gump soundtrack below. You’ll find that the songs and this film are like peas and carrots!

Hound Dog – Elvis Presley

Before Elvis Presley recorded his much-beloved version of blues hit ‘Hound Dog,’ legendary blues/R&B trailblazer Big Mama Thornton recorded the track in 1953. Both Big Mama Thornton and Elvis received number one hits with the single. The rockin’ song is featured in the box office hit movie Forrest Gump as a young Forrest listens to records.

Related: songs from Grease.

Rebel-Rouser – Duane Eddy

‘Rebel-Rouser’ was recorded by songwriter Duane Eddy back in 1958. Originally, Eddy titled it ‘Rabble-Rouser,’ but fellow co-songwriter Lee Hazlewood changed the title. The song is featured during an early scene in the film as Forrest attempts to escape a group of bullies.

Related: best rock n roll songs, running songs.

(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do – Clarence Henry

R&B artist Clarence Henry’s biggest US hit plays as protagonist Forrest goes toe-to-toe with a guy trying to scoop up his love interest, Jenny. Aside from its inclusion in the hit film, it has been featured in other films, shows, and commercials. Another popular film from the ’90s, Mickey Blue Eyes, also features the tune in its soundtrack.

Walk Right In – The Rooftop Singers

Forrest Gump’s love interest, Jenny, likes to live on the wild side, and in one scene, while The Rooftop Singers’ ‘Walk Right In’ plays, she sneaks him into her college dorm room. The Jug Stompers, an alt-country band, originally wrote the wild tune. Besides The Rooftop Singers’ version, another popular cover of the song is by a zany ’70s band out of Australia named Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show. They turned the single into a high-energy party anthem.

Land of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett

Wilson Pickett’s first recording session at the famous Muscle Shoals, Alabama FAME recording studio was his single ‘Land of 1000 Dances.’ Songwriter Chris Kenner originally wrote it in 1962, but Pickett’s version ended up in the film when Forrest’s love interest, Jenny, takes him to a strip club.

Related: songs with numbers in the title.

Blowin’ in the Wind – Joan Baez

One of the most iconic scenes from the box office hit Forrest Gump features one of the main characters, a free-spirited hippie named Jenny, playing the guitar for protagonist Forrest while naked in a strip club. During this pivotal scene, a live version of songwriter Joan Baez’ ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ plays. While Baez was known for her original work, this particular recording of hers is actually a cover. Bob Dylan originally wrote the tune.

Related: wind songs.

Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Some folks are born made to wave the flag. Oh, they’re red, white, and blue.” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s iconic anti-establishment song is featured on the Forrest Gump soundtrack. The protest song, which stood as an anthem for those against the Vietnam War, plays in a scene in the film as Forrest is shipped off by helicopter to Vietnam.

Related: CCR’s greatest hits, best songs about being broke.

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – Four Tops

Another major character in Forrest Gump is introduced when Forrest gets to Vietnam and meets fellow soldier “Bubba” and The Four Tops’ song ‘I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)’ plays. The popular songwriting team of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Eddie Holland wrote this Motown classic. The songwriting trio wrote many hits for the Motown group, The Supremes.

Related: Motown music, songs with sugar in the title.

Respect – Aretha Franklin

Actor Gary Sinise plays the legendary Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, and when Forrest is first introduced to the platoon leader Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ is featured during the scene. This 1967 number-one hit was originally written and recorded by Otis Redding. Though his version only charted at #35, Aretha’s cover version took the top spot at #1.

Related: songs with soul, respect songs.

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 – Bob Dylan

Though this Bob Dylan classic from his hit album Blonde on Blonde wasn’t actually featured in the film Forrest Gump, it made it on the soundtrack. Dylan wrote the tune one day while spending time working on an album in a recording studio. While there, two women came into the studio trying to escape a rainstorm. Dylan guessed their ages correctly, and his tune ‘Rainy Day Women’ was born.

Related: best songs with rain.

Sloop John B – The Beach Boys

A traditional tune from the West Indies adapted by the surf-rock group The Beach Boys for American audiences, ‘Sloop John B’ is an early 1950s song about a sunken ship. The tune is featured during a conversation between main characters Forrest, Bubba, and Lieutenant Dan.

Related: songs about the ocean.

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & the Papas

Some of the most moving scenes from the movie take place during Forrest’s service in Vietnam during the war. When The Mamas and the Papas’ song ‘California Dreamin” is featured in the film, Forrest is riding out a rainstorm in Vietnam while writing a letter back home to his love interest, Jenny.

Related: songs with California in the title.

For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield is one of many famous bands from the ’60s and ’70s for their protest music. Their tune ‘For What It’s Worth’ plays during a battle scene. This hit song became one of their most popular tunes for its catchy melody and because the anti-war movement adopted it for their fight against the Vietnam War.

Related: best peaceful songs, Forrest Gump songs by scene.

What the World Needs Now – Jackie DeShannon

Sheltered and innocent Forrest Gump is introduced to many firsts in the hit 1994 film. Jackie DeShannon’s ‘What the World Needs Now’ plays as the humble protagonist is introduced to ping pong for the first time. Written as a song for the pacifist movement that gained popularity in the 1960s, the song’s focus is on love being the only powerful force that can truly bring about peace and save the world.

Break on Through – The Doors

While Forrest works on his ping pong skills and gets pretty good at the sport, The Doors’ single ‘Break on Through’ plays. The scene cuts from Forrest to Jenny as the song plays on. In this memorable “Jenny” scene, she attempts to jump off a balcony after indulging too much. The Doors’ tune is appropriate for this scene. One of the lyrics was originally “she gets high,” but producers changed it to “she gets ugh,” to make the song more radio-friendly.

Mrs. Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel

Forrest’s heroics during his service in Vietnam are recognized during a ceremony where he receives the Medal of Honor. During this moving scene, Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Mrs. Robinson’ is featured. Though it was featured in the ’90s film, the songwriting duo originally wrote it for the controversial film, The Graduate, and it was featured on the movie’s soundtrack release.

Volunteers – Jefferson Airplane

Much of the film takes place in the 1960s and ’70s, so naturally, the protagonist finds himself getting caught up in a protest as Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Volunteers’ is featured. Though the song didn’t originally start as a protest tune, as the band collaborated, it turned into an anti-authoritarian protest against the Vietnam War.

Related: playlist of songs about power, best 60’s songs, important psych rock songs.

Let’s Get Together – The Youngbloods

Various scenes featuring Jenny in California play as The Youngbloods’ ‘Let’s Get Together’ is featured in the film. The song’s origin story is hard to trace. It has been covered and dramatically transformed by many artists, including The Youngbloods. ‘Let’s Get Together’ was originally written by a songwriter by the name of Chester Powers, though he recorded it under the stage name Dino Valenti.

San Francisco – Scott McKenzie

Jenny is both a free spirit and tortured soul. ‘San Fransisco’ plays in the background as she leaves Forrest behind in DC to go with her abusive boyfriend Wesley to Berkeley in California. Before she leaves, Forrest hands her his Congressional Medal of Honor and says it’s hers. He credits her as the reason he was able to earn it in the first place.

Related: You can listen to this song on our playlist of songs about hair.

Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season) – The Byrds

A pivotal moment finds the faithful protagonist having to say a heart-wrenching goodbye to his love interest Jenny, who he loses to an abusive Wesley. As The Byrd’s dreamlike ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ plays, he waves goodbye to Jenny as she rides away in a bus.

Related: best leaving songs.

Medley: Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In – The 5th Dimension

Billboard has rated this medley featuring two songs as one of the greatest songs of all time. The mystic-inspired tune is featured in Forrest Gump when a group of people miraculously forgo watching the NASA moon landing in favor of taking in Forrest’s legendary ping pong skills.

Everybody’s Talkin – Harry Nilsson

Folk singer Fred Neil originally wrote this tune, a notable Greenwich Village artist. ‘Everybody’s Talkin” was first featured in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy, which chronicles the life of a male prostitute in New York. Harry Nilsson eventually recorded a cover version, which plays as Forrest and Lieutenant Dan make their way through busy New York streets.

Related: songs from The Hangover soundtrack.

Joy to the World – Three Dog Night

Forrest Gump travels the world, and eventually, finds himself in China because of his ping-pong prowess. This scene introduces viewers to Three Dog Night’s ‘Joy To The World,’ which was first made popular due to its strange opening line, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.”

Stoned Love – The Supremes

Forrest and his former platoon leader Lieutenant Dan share a moment in a bar as The Supremes’ ‘Stoned Love’ plays. Though the song is often misconstrued as a love song, songwriter Kinney Thomas has previously stated it actually was written as a political track against the Vietnam War and as a call for “compassion.”

Related: best anti-war songs.

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head – B. J. Thomas

The storied tale of Forrest Gump eventually finds him shaking hands with President Nixon after catching his attention with his internationally-recognized ping pong skills. As Forrest chats with the president in this light-hearted scene (the Watergate hotel is mentioned in jest), B.J. Thomas’ rendition of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ is featured. This tune was originally written by songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. Their single took in over 1 million dollars in sales.

Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man) – Randy Newman

Forrest eventually helps run a shrimp boat business with Lieutenant Dan. As the two men look for shrimp without success, ‘Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)’ plays. The tune was initially written about President Nixon, who briefly appeared in the movie.

Related: songs about presidents.

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

An instrumental version of the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ plays as Forrest dances with his love interest Jenny in Forrest Gump. Even though the band hails from Florida, they wrote the tune in honor of the legendary Muscle Shoals area in Alabama, where they used to record.

Related: best of Lynyrd Skynyrd, songs from The Girl Next Door Soundtrack,

It Keeps You Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers

Forrest Gump’s legendary running scenes are still talked about today as one of the most pivotal movie montages ever recorded. The Doobie Brothers’ song ‘It Keeps You Runnin” accompanies protagonist Forrest Gump’s long journey on foot. The 1976 release is about someone who hides their feelings for another because they are prone to running away from commitment.

Related: best doobie brothers songs, running away songs

I’ve Got to Use My Imagination – Gladys Knight & the Pips

“Keep on keepin’ on.” As Forrest continues running in the famous montage, several songs play, including Gladys Knight’s ‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination.’ The 1974 hit off of Gladys Knight and the Pip’s popular album Imagination rocketed quickly to number one on the charts. Many artists, including Joe Cocker, have gone on to cover the beloved tune.

On the Road Again – Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson’s highly appropriate song ‘On the Road Again’ plays as Forrest Gump runs the country, literally. His montage of running scenes in the hit film has become the stuff of cinematography legend, and Nelson’s country hit helps set the stage for viewers. Nelson wrote the song while on a flight, and all he had to write the lyrics on was an airsickness bag.

Related: songs about vacation.

Against the Wind – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

As Forrest’s epic run finally ends, he heads home as ‘Against the Wind’ plays for viewers. The poetic Bob Seger original also features the work of The Eagles bandmates, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. The catchy song ultimately won them a Grammy, and supergroup The Highwaymen covered the song for their first album.

Recommended: top Bob Seger songs.

Forrest Gump Suite – Alan Silvestri

Composer Alan Silvestri scored the music for the box office hit. The opening scene of the movie, in which viewers focus on a feather floating, features an original composition by Silvestri. His work on the movie soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Original Score.”

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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2 thoughts on “32 Classic Tunes from the Forrest Gump Soundtrack”

  1. Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” was the song playing while Forrest was running on his marathon sprint. Why was it NOT ON THE SOUNDTRACK? That was the biggest reason I bought that soundtrack all those years ago! Running on empty, is my all-time favorite song. I never get tired of hearing it!!!!!

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