When you think of campfire songs, do titles such as Kumbaya and On Top of Spaghetti come to mind?
Those are excellent songs for the kids, but as adults, we want something a little more our style. Right?
Right. So we’re bringing you the top seven classic rock hits to sing around the fire.
Grab the guitar and s’mores fixings, and let’s go!
What Makes a Campfire Song?
Campfire songs are those the whole group can easily sing along to. Everyone knows the words, or they can quickly learn them. Plus, there might even be someone who can play it on the guitar or ukelele.
As kids, we sang B-I-N-G-O and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. Or, as parents and grandparents, we may have sung the earworm about the Baby Shark. In addition, Boy and Girl Scouts have special songs to sing by the fire.
However, Campfire songs aren’t just for entertaining or teaching the kids. As adults, we still want to sit around the fire and sing along. They bring us together and might even get people from other campsites to our firelit circle.
We’ve picked what we think are some of the best tunes to play and sing by the fire. While not everyone knows all the words to all of them, they still make us feel warm and cozy.
About the Song: Jimmy Buffett released his sing-along hit in 1977. That year, it reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Easy Listening charts. In 2016, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for its cultural impact.
In fact, the song became so popular that Buffett now has 38 Margaritaville resorts worldwide. And one of his compilation albums jokingly referred to the piece as his only hit, titling it Songs You Know By Heart: Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hit(s).
As you might realize, the song is about margaritas and living the relaxed (drunken) beach lifestyle. It’s perfect for singing around a fire built on the Florida sand.
Wastin' away again in Margaritaville Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame But I know it’s my own damn fault
#6 American Pie
About the Song: Don McLean wrote American Pie and released it late in 1971. A couple of months later, it hit #1 and stayed there for four weeks. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) listed it as #5 on their Songs of the Century.
Many people don’t know all the lyrics, and it’s a long song at 8+ minutes. But everyone loves it, and most will certainly belt out the chorus. It’s an excellent tune before a break or the end of the night because people will inevitably stop to chat about what certain lines mean.
I can't remember if I cried When I read about his widowed bride But something touched me deep inside The day the music died
#5 Stand By Me
About the Song: Ben E. King and his pals Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote Stand By Me, and King released it in 1961. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B and #4 on the Billboard 100. The hit was the title song for a movie in 1986, and over 400 bands and solo artists have covered it. By 2017, it was noted as one of the highest-grossing songs of its time.
The tune continues the mellow mood but brings about more positive feelings. You’ll probably have many more people at your campfire singing along to this as the words are easy to follow and relatively well known.
If the sky that we look upon Should tumble and fall Or the mountains should crumble to the sea I won't cry, I won't cry No, I won't shed a tear Just as long as you stand, stand by me
#4 Brown-Eyed Girl
About the Song: Van Morrison wrote and released Brown-Eyed Girl in 1967. He had to make a few changes to keep it from being banned on the radio. The hit peaked at #10 but eventually received a platinum certification. Many consider it Van Morrison’s signature song; however, it’s not his favorite.
The tune is more upbeat and speaks of fond memories shared with a lover, laughing and making love. You might have a few mumblers in your crowd, but most should know the song, and everyone will sing the chorus, ‘Do you remember when we used to sing, Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da.’
Sometimes I'm overcome thinking 'bout it Making love in the green grass Behind the stadium with you My brown-eyed girl You, my brown-eyed girl
#3 Wagon Wheel
About the Song: Wagon Wheel has such a convoluted creation story that we devoted an entire article to its evolution. In a nutshell, Bob Dylan wrote the music and chorus, and Ketch Secor wrote the lyrics 20 years later. But it was Darius Rucker’s version that went 9-times platinum.
This upbeat song is about someone hitchhiking from the Northeast US to the Carolinas to escape their past. It’s nearly effortless to learn and is another one that most guitar players can capture. You’ll have your friends swaying by the fire and singing along in no time.
So rock me mama like a wagon wheel Rock me mama any way you feel Hey mama rock me Rock me mama like the wind and the rain Rock me mama like a southbound train Hey mama rock me
#2 You Are My Sunshine
About the Song: Oliver Hood reportedly wrote this song in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The song eventually came into the hands of Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell. However, the first known recording of the tune was by the Pine Ridge Boys in 1939.
Gene Autry and Bing Crosby made covers that rose high in the charts. It’s Johnny Cash’s 1969 version, though, that most people recognize.
You Are My Sunshine seems like a happy song, but it’s really about love lost. Even so, it appears to uplift anyone who sings it. You’ll quickly learn the words, and the guitar piece is pretty simple.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine You make me happy when skies are gray You'll never know, dear, how much I love you Please don't take my sunshine away
#1 Take Me Home, Country Roads
About the Song: John Denver, Bill Danoff, and Taffy Nivert wrote this famous song, and Denver released it in 1971. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has a platinum certification from the RIAA. It continues to be popular today, with over 1.5 billion paid downloads.
Who doesn’t know this ode to West Virginia? Even if you don’t have a guitar around, it’s an excellent song for the campfire. It’s such an easy tune to remember that some people even sing it in the round.
Country roads, take me home To the place I belong West Virginia, mountain mama Take me home, country roads
Great Campfire Sing-Alongs Can Be Classic Tunes
We feel like these are some of the greatest classic songs to sing around the campfire. They’re memorable, and the words and guitar are reasonably easy to learn. So give them a try next time you’ve got a fire going, and let us know which one got the most people singing along.