The film has “legs” even if Lieutenant Dan didn’t. Perhaps the defining movie of the 1990s came out 28 years ago today, Forrest Gump. And while the 1994 film would go on to rake in over $600 million at the box office, seemingly win about ten thousand Oscars and Golden Globe Awards and add to our lexicon by adding meaning to a “box of chocolates”, this site is A Sound Day , not “A Motion Picture Day.” But we’re looking at that white-suited southerner on the Savannah bench today because as much as it was about the changing face of America through the ’60s and ’70s, it was about the changing sound of America as well. In short, the music has legs too!
The soundtrack had actually hit shelves a few days prior, but probably caught few people’s attention until they actually got to see Hanks become the shrimp-fishing, table tennis-playing, ever-adoring suitor of Jenny on the big screen. Of course, if people flipped the cover over to look at the track listing, there would have been instant attraction to Baby Boomers and aging Gen X-ers: as allmusic would put it, it was “like listening to an oldies radio station, minus the commercials and annoying DJ.” Initially it was issued as a cassette and the more popular, 34 song, 96 minute double CD that chronologically follows Forrest through his formative and maturing years. From “Hound Dog” by that nice lad that boarded with Forrest’s mama through the easy folk of Joan Baez (“Blowin’ in the Wind”), through the crazy, turbulent Vietnam years (“Break on Through” by The Doors, “Fortunate Son”, the most under-rated of CCR singles, “Get Together” by the Youngbloods etc.) into the mellowing ’70s (“Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne, “It Keeps You Running” by the Doobie Brothers, Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” ) there’s nary a miss in the collection, nor a song that doesn’t take on new meaning when viewed in context of the film. Mind you, with the music making so much of the film, even with the double CD, there were tracks that got missed, like “Tie A Yellow Ribbon,” Jimi Hendrix “Hey Joe,” and perhaps most noticeably, “Free Bird” that Jenny totters on the edge to (figuratively and literally). If you noticed, all the music used in the film was from American artists, something Zemeckis deliberately set out to do as a fitting nod to the country that Forrest was so tied to. Footage of John Lennon does appear in the movie, of course, but while he references “Imagine”, the song itself doesn’t play.
But it was an easy soundtrack to warm to, and a great reminder of that year’s favorite mature film.
The public thought that; it sold past 10 million copies. It hit #1 in Canada and Australia, in Forrest’s U.S. it was held to a #2 position – ironically, stopped from the top of the charts by soundtrack to the top kids’ movie of the year, The Lion King. The album has hit diamond (10X platinum) or more in all of those countries.
To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the movie – ie, 2014 – it was put out on vinyl for the first time, as a triple-LP with the discs fittingly being colored red, white and blue. Movie director Robert Zemeckis said of it “at the heart of the story is the music, music that lives with us, always there to remind us of the people, the places and the events of our time.”