Almost 30 years after its release, Forrest Gump remains as popular as ever. The heartwarming, tear-jerking tale of a man short on brains but big on heart won six Academy Awards, grossed over $678.2 million at the box office, and has since been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the US National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” But sensational though it is, it wouldn’t be even half as good without its soundtrack. Here’s how we rank all the songs from the Forrest Gump soundtrack.
33. Against the Wind – Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
Bob Seger drew inspiration from his years as a cross country runner for this hit from 1980, which deals with getting older, getting wiser, and yearning for the simpler days of yesterday. Listen out for the Eagles’ Glenn Frey on backing vocals.
32. Rebel Rouser – Duane Eddy
Although most people think this top ten hit from 1958 was inspired by When the Saints Go Marching In, it was actually a little-known song called Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet by Tennessee Ernie Ford that got Duane Eddy’s creative juices flowing.
31. (I Don’t Know Why) But I Do – Clarence “Frogman” Henry
(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do became the biggest hit of Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s career on its release in 1961, hitting number 4 on the pop charts.
30. Walk Right In – The Rooftop Singers
Walk Right In was originally recorded by Cannon’s Jug Stompers in 1929, but it’s The Rooftop Singers’ cover from 1963 that’s best remembered.
29. Land of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett
Whether you’re a fan of the Boogaloo, the Twist, the alligator, the mashed potato, the Watusi or the pony, you can be sure your favorite dance move gets a shout-out on this 1966 song by Wilson Pickett.
28. I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) – The Four Tops
Described by Billboard as a “spirited, fast-paced wailer performed in the Four Tops unique style,” I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) has been covered by countless artists over the years, but the Four Tops’ 1965 original still stands as the definitive cut.
27. Sloop John B – The Beach Boys
Sloop John B started life as a Bahamian folk song in the early 1900s, but in 1967, the Beach Boys transformed it into an international hit when they recorded it for their seminal album, Pet Sounds.
26. Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In – The 5th Dimension
This hippy anthem spent a whopping six weeks at number one in 1969, eventually selling over a million copies and certifying platinum.
25. Joy to the World – Three Dog Night
Three Dog Night might have dismissed Joy to the World as a “kid’s song” and a “silly song,” but it still managed to top the charts in 1971 and sell enough copies to go gold.
24. Get Together – The Youngbloods
This catchy plea for peace and brotherhood was originally recorded by the Kingston Trio, but it’s The Youngbloods version from 1967 that made its way onto the Forrest Gump soundtrack.
23. On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
This song about the ups and downs of life on the road became one of Willie Nelson’s biggest hits in the 1980s, reaching number 1 on the country charts and snapping up the Grammy Award for Best Country Song.
22. Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man) – Randy Newman
The 1974 album Good Old Boys inspired some of the best reviews of Randy Newman’s career… considering the strength of songs llke Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man), it’s not hard to see why.
21. It Keeps You Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers
This jazzy, R&B ditty gave The Doobie Brothers a top 40 hit in 1976, and did the same for Carly Simon when she covered it for her album Another Passenger a little later that year.
20. San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) – Scott McKenzie
If a film is set, whether fully, partially, or for just a few minutes, in the 1960s, there’s a very, very good chance you’ll hear Scott McKenzie reminding everyone who plans to go to San Francisco to wear some flowers in the hair.
19. What the World Needs Now Is Love – Jackie DeShannon
What the World Needs Now Is Love was initially offered to Dionne Warwick, but she turned it down after worrying it sounded too preachy. Jackie DeShannon had no such fears, and ended up earning a top ten hit with it in 1965.
18. Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) – The Byrds
Written by legendary folk singer Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) became an international hit in 1965 after the Byrds treated it to some jangly guitars and some sweet, sweet harmonies.
17. Volunteers – Jefferson Airplane
Before they were Jefferson Starship, they were Jefferson Airplane, and before they were building cities on rock and roll, they were leading the counterculture from the front with red-hot numbers like this hit from 1969.
16. Stoned Love – The Supremes
A lot of radio stations refused to play Stoned Love after wrongly assuming its title referred to drugs, but it still managed to take The Supremes to number 3 on the pop charts on its release in 1970.
15. Blowin’ in the Wind – Joan Baez
Bob Dylan might have penned this classic ’60s protest song, but no one ever sang it quite so sweetly as Joan Baez.
14. Everybody’s Talkin’ – Harry Nilsson
Everybody’s Talkin’ scoped a Grammy for Harry Nilsson after it featured in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. It eventually sold over a million copies, becoming one of Nilsson’s signature songs.
13. Running On Empty – Jackson Browne
Running On Empty became Jackson Browne’s biggest selling album on its release in 1977, hanging around the charts for well over a year. It’s not exactly short on great songs, but the title track might just be the best of them all.
12. I’ve Got to Use My Imagination – Gladys Knight & the Pips
Everyone from Joan Osborne to Joe Cocker has covered I’ve Got to Use My Imagination, but there’s still no beating Gladys Knight & the Pips’ original from 1973.
11. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head – B. J. Thomas
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid wouldn’t have been the same without this late 1960s chart-topper from B. J. Thomas, and neither would the Forrest Gump soundtrack.
10. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & the Papas
Of all their songs, few encapsulate the California sound of the Mamas and the Papas quite so perfectly as this top 5 hit from 1965.
9. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 – Bob Dylan
It might have drawn outrage from the moral majority, but this rollicking honky-tonkish “drug song” still managed to become one of Bob Dylan’s most successful ever singles, reaching number 2 in the pop charts in 1966.
8. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Neil Young’s Southern Man might have been an awesome song, but Lynyrd Skynyrd’s stinging response might be even better. Released in 1974, Sweet Home Alabama became the band’s highest-charting single and most enduringly popular song.
7. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Vietnam War inspired countless songs, but few quite so powerful as this landmark piece of swamp rock from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s career-defining album, Willy and the Poor Boys.
6. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
Even if you missed the 1960s the first time around, this protect song about the Sunset Strip curfew riots will make you feel like it never ended.
5. Break on Through (To the Other Side) – The Doors
Jim Morrison might have been taken from us far too soon, but he left us some magical songs to remember him by, including this irresistible earworm from the Doors’ self-titled debut album.
4. Mrs. Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel
The Graduate might have made Mrs. Robinson famous, but Forrest Gump wouldn’t have been the same without this timeless top charter from 1966 either.
3. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Described by All Music as Fleetwood Mac’s biggest and most timeless hit, ever, this classic break up song took the band to number 10 in the charts in 1976.
2. Hound Dog – Elvis Presley
Hound Dog has been recorded more than 250 times…. although unsurprisingly, it’s Elvis Presley’s version that most of us know, and, judging by the 10 million copies it’s sold, the one most of us have sitting in our record collections.
1. Respect – Aretha Franklin
If any song deserves more respect than most, it’s this 1967 masterpiece from Aretha Franklin. Otis Reading might have recorded it first, but the Queen of Soul made it her own. In 2021, Rolling Stone placed it at number one on their list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”