2020s

Soundtracks of Television: ‘The Wonder Years’

The Wonder Years Soundtrack - Every Featured Song in the ABC Series Remake

The Wonder Years soundtrack includes music by Sam Cooke, John Covert and Otis Redding. This info article contains spoilers for Saladin K. Patterson’s remake of the original ABC series. Visit the Soundtracks of Television section for more Vague Visages streaming guides.

Narrated by Don Cheadle, The Wonder Years takes place during the late 60s in Montgomery, Alabama. The coming-of-age story follows Dean Williams (Elisha Williams), a Black 12-year-old who experiences ups and down at school while trying to process racial tension in his community and beyond. In the pilot episode, music supervisor Amani K. Smith (Shut Up and Dribble) incorporates R&B productions from two iconic vocalists who greatly impacted American culture during the 60s. Here’s every featured song in the 21st century version of The Wonder Years.

The Wonder Years Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot”

The Wonder Years Soundtrack - Every Featured Song in the ABC Series Remake

  • “Soothe Me” by Sam Cooke (00:00): Older Dean (Cheadle) narrates about the state of the country in 1968. The Wonder Years soundtrack song plays as a younger version of the character rides his bicycle around his Montgomery, Alabama neighborhood. The locals attempt to enjoy themselves despite the turbulent sociopolitical climate.
  • “I Need You More” (00:01): Dean hears his father Bill’s (Dulé Hill) song on the radio. He dances at home with his family.
  • “Green Onions” by Booker T. & The MG’s (00:07): Dean and Cory (Amari O’Neil) admire the toughness of Keisa (Milan Ray). The Wonder Years soundtrack tune scores a sequence at Jefferson Davis Junior High School. “Green Onions” fades as Older Dean introduces Brad (Julian Lerner).
  • “Step Back” by John Covert and The Crystal Image (00:16): Mr. Long (Allen Maldonado) gives advice to Dean. Bill does the same thing to irritate the coach. The music cuts shortly before the characters learn about Martin Luther King Jr. being shot.
  • “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Otis Redding (00:20): After Martin Luther King Jr. passes away, Older Dean remembers being confused. Moments later, The Wonder Years soundtrack song plays during the 1968 timeline. Dean watches his best friend Cory kiss his crush Keisa and thus becomes even more perplexed as an impressionable 12-year-old. The lyric “It’s been too hard living” aligns with the character taking a deep sigh and returning home on his bicycle. Dean finds comfort inside the family home.

The Wonder Years Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 2 “Green Eyed Monster”

The Wonder Years Soundtrack on ABC

  • “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” by Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel (00:00): Adult Dean narrates about Martin Luther King’s death and how it impacted Montgomery, Alabama. Church members sing The Wonder Years soundtrack song. A pre-Fugees Lauryn Hill famously performed “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
  • “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson (00:02): Adult Dean narrates about the  Black National Anthem. He wonders why songs about oppression have to be so long.
  • “The Tracks of My Tears” by The Miracles (00:04): Dean reflects about getting a C on his test. In a flashback scene, he cries while thinking about Keisa kissing Cory. The Wonder Years soundtrack song originally released in June 1965.
  • “Different Strokes” by Syl Johnson (00:05): Dean realizes that he can get special treatment at school because of Martin Luther King’s death. He tells the guidance counselor that he doesn’t want to talk but does need more candy.
  • “Struggling for Survival” by Little Ed & The Soundmasters (00:14): Dean visits a Black Panther center with Kim. He raises a fist with enthusiasm. The Wonder Years soundtrack song plays in the background as Kim kisses Albert aka Kwame X.
  • “Somebody Help Me” by Otis Brown (00:20): Cory and Dean go fishing. Old Man Seagram shows up and yells at the kids. The Wonder Years soundtrack song closes out the episode.

The Wonder Years Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 3 “The Club”

The Wonder Years Soundtrack on ABC

  • “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding (00:00): Adult Dean narrates about how kids were to be seen and not heard in the 60s. The Wonder Years soundtrack scene scores a 1964 “Blue Light Special” party sequence.
  • “Do the Roller” by Leon Gibson (00:00): The track plays directly after “Try a Little Tenderness.” In 1964, Bruce is asked to bring a drink to his father.
  • “Walking in the Rain” by Rufus Thomas (00:10): Dean’s mother learns about his father’s dirty magazines. He imagines losing his “Man” card and thus becoming a boy once again.
  • “Nothing Worse Than Being Alone” by The Ad Libs (00:19): Bill and Lillian host a party. Coach Long teases them about having more children. The Wonder Years soundtrack song closes out the episode as Adult Dean reflects about lessons learned from his parents.

The Wonder Years Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 4 “The Workplace”

The Wonder Years Soundtrack on ABC

  • “With a Little Help From My Friends” by The Beatles (00:04): Dean joins his father at work. He asks to participate in a morning recording session. Older Dean narrates about his funk face as his father sings The Wonder Years soundtrack song.
  • “On the Road” by The Bossmen (00:09): Dean observes his mother in action at work and compares her to a quarterback calling a play before halftime. The music scores a dream sequence. Dean imagines Lillian playing football with her fellow account executives.

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The Wonder Years airs weekly on ABC. New episodes premiere every Wednesday through the fall 2021. This article about The Wonder Years soundtrack will be updated as the series progresses.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.

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