15 Songs to Play Around the Campfire
Nothing beats sitting outside next to a brightly burning campfire, looking up at the starlit sky and breathing in the fresh crisp air. It’s in that moment when you truly feel connected to nature.
But do you know what’s even better? Taking your camping experience up a notch and playing some classic songs on your guitar next to the flickering flame.
I put together a list of classic songs that you can play on your next camping trip and even sing along to. It’s a great bonding experience if you’re camping as a group. But even if you’re by yourself, it’s a great way to relax and “escape from civilization” for a brief moment.
No matter what kind of camping you’re doing, take a look at the song list below and pick out a few to learn for your next camping trip.
When that perfect moment comes and it’s time to get out the guitar, you’ll be ready to go for it.
The Best Campfire Songs Ever (Classics)
Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
Nothing Else Matters was a song released in 1992 by the American heavy metal band Metallica. It reached number 11 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and was up there in the top positions on several charts in Europe at the time as well. It's one of Metallica’s most popular songs, has been covered hundreds of times, and can make any beginner feel like they can actually play a few measures of this song by fingerpicking the intro. That's because if you pick four strings while they're open (no strings pressed down), you can actually play the first few introductory measures to nothing else matters.
Compared to all of Metallica's earlier songs this one was significantly different. James Hetfield was taking classical guitar lessons at the time and wanted to show off his fingerpicking skills. That’s where their introduction and the solo in the middle of the song come from. A lot of core Metallica fans didn’t like this “new sound” too much, but despite this, it has become a staple song in a lot of concerts and performances and continues to grow in popularity to this day.
If you want a good guitar song to play while you're out camping, this is a great song that you can learn a simplistic version of fairly easily.
Ramblin’ Man by the Allman Brothers Band
This song by the Allman Brothers Band was first released in August 1973. It was featured in their fourth studio album, brothers and sisters, as the lead single. Dickey Betts was the one who wrote and sung the song, and he was also the Allman Brothers Band guitarist. This is one of those songs that has more of a country music feel compared to all of the other songs that the Allman Brothers Band wrote in the past. The group didn't really want to record the song at first, but they did.
And they sure were glad they ended up going forward and recording Ramblin’ Man, as it was one of their first and only top 10 Singles. Ramblin’ Man is another one of those songs that you can enjoy playing and singing along to while sitting around the fire. It’ll make the experience just that much more worth it.
Here I Go Again by Whitesnake
Released in 1982 by British rock band Whitesnake, Here I Go Again was released as a single and topped the charts on October of 1987. It was written by the band's lead singer David Coverdale and Bernie Marsden who was the former guitarist for Whitesnake. This is another classic song composed in G major with a tempo of 91 BPM.
If you pick up a few of the major chords to the song or just fingerpick a few of the main melodic parts, you'll have a good version to play around the campfire and reminisce back to the 70s.
Angie by the Rolling Stones
The song is a true classic. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, this Rolling Stones single hit the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 almost immediately. This is a great song to play around the campfire if you've been craving some 70s music from back in the day. Not only that but if you play it with its basic chords, it can be just a nice melody to sit around the campfire too. You don't necessarily have to sing along, but if you know the lyrics, that wouldn't hurt either!
With regards to The Rolling Stones, they've performed the song in concert quite a few times. Ever since their 1982 European tour, they've performed it on every tour that they've done.
American Pie by Don McLean
There's just something extremely memorable about this song by Don McLean. I'm sure we can all remember the last time we've heard American Pie, or if we don't remember the exact moment, then we at least remember hearing it at one point or another. It was originally recorded and released in 1971, and was fully written by Don McLean. In 1972, American Pie was the number one hit in the US for a whole 4 weeks, and then it went on to top the charts in multiple countries worldwide.
American Pie’s lyrics are jam-packed full of History. It’s another classic that's a must play when you're out on the road or just sitting there by the campfire. A lot of people know the lyrics, or at least know a portion of the lyrics, so it shouldn't be too difficult getting people to either sing along or recognize the tune. So, if you're looking for a good song to play that has some history and works great on guitar, American Pie can be next on your list of songs to learn and master.
Yellow Submarine by the Beatles
A genuine classic by The Beatles released in 1969, Yellow Submarine is another song that we all either know or have heard of. It’s another great classic to pick up and learn on your guitar, even if you're just playing it with some basic chords (in a simplified version). This is primarily because of the widely recognizable melody. Everyone out there camping with you will instantly know what you're playing. And if they happen to be younger and don't quite know that you’re playing Yellow Submarine, it’ll be a great time to teach them some history about the Beatles.
I really recommend this one as a classic, and I’ve personally played the basic chord version. If you incorporate some finger-picking and maybe some more intermediate chords, you can really get your music sounding just like the original and bring Yellow Submarine to life. No matter where you're at and no matter how well you are a guitar, this is a song that you can learn, master, and perform around the campfire.
Modern Campfire Songs
These are songs from the early 90’s up through today. Since there was a lot of good music back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, we’ve thought it appropriate to include some of these tunes and label them as “modern”. Enjoy the list!
Wonderwall by Oasis
Released in 1995, this is a song we all either know or have heard playing on the radio at one point or another. It’s also one of those songs that beginning guitar players seem to love, since whenever the question of, “which song should I learn to start playing guitar?” comes up, the answer almost always includes Wonderwall!
It’s one of those more upbeat songs that aren’t too difficult to play -- and one that can entertain everyone around the campfire for a bit. If you’re going to be playing some songs around the fire, start playing the intro to Wonderwall and see what happens. There may be more people singing along than you’d have initially thought!
What I Got by Sublime
Another classic from the 90’s (1996) by Sublime. Nearly everyone can recognize the chorus, “Love is, what I got…”, making it a perfect song to play in the great outdoors around a bonfire (or even a smaller fire - as long as there’s a flame!)
It isn’t too difficult to play on guitar if you go by just the chords, but if you want to play it exactly as recorded, it goes more into intermediate territory and gets some fingerpicking involved.
And if you’re a fan of sublime, I’d say just go for it! There’s no harm in learning a great 90’s song and reliving the memories.
Time of Your Life by Green Day
A Green Day classic sung by Billie Joe Armstrong with some simple lyrics to go along with it. This is a perfect campfire sing-along song if you want to play some modern songs out on your next camping adventure.
A lot of people say that this is a perfect graduation song, “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right, I hope you have the time of your life…”, but it goes beyond that. This is a song for any turning point in life, and one that we can all relate to at one point or another.
If you’re up for another inspiring tune that everyone can pick up the lyrics to relatively easily, learn the chords to ‘Time of Your Life’ by Green Day and go ahead and play it next to the campfire.
Island in the Sun by Weezer
A great song by Weezer (Rivers Cuomo) from back in 2001 with its extremely recognizable melody and riff… “Hip hip”.
Once you start playing this melody around the campfire everyone’s ears will perk up, since there’s an extremely high chance everyone has heard Island in the Sun at least once in their lives (even if in passing on the radio in a supermarket, that still counts!)
The main riff isn’t too difficult to pick up, and once you get it down it’s just a few more chords to play the remainder of the melody.
Come As You Are by Nirvana
Bringing back Nirvana, Kurt Cobain,and the 90’s, ‘Come As You Are’ was written in 1992 and continues to be a classic among Nirvana’s songs.
This is another song nearly everyone can recognize as soon as they hear the first 15 seconds and the main guitar melody. Just like ‘Island in the Sun’, all it take to learn ‘Come As You Are’ is picking up the main riff and then a few chords for the chorus.
Once you have those down, you’ll be able to play it around the campfire with relative ease.
Mr. Jones by Counting Crows
All the way from 1993, ‘Mr. Jones’ by Counting Crows is a timeless song. No matter whether it’s the 90’s, 2000’s, or even several decades later, this is a song that feels like it’ll never go out of date… “Sha la la, la la la la la”...
If you’re playing this by the campfire and you’re with some friends or family who were around in the 90’s, this song is sure to bring back some nostalgia and memories.
If you’re not, then this is still a great song that you can learn without much difficulty (as there are only a few primary chords).
Country Campfire Songs
King of the Road by Roger Miller
King of the Road is an older song written by Roger Miller in 1964. If you were around in the 60s, 70s, or even the 80s, then you might remember the song being sung to you as a kid. It's a great tune overall and makes a great song to strum along to on your guitar next to a campfire.
If you really want an old classic country song, King of the Road is one of those tunes you can't miss. Keep pushing the classics forward and learn the song for your next camping trip, you won't regret it!
Dust on the Bottle by David Lee Murphy
A classic country song from the 90’s (released in 1994). “There might be a little dust on the bottle… but it’s one of those things that gets sweeter with time.” That right there is a phrase that applies to a great number of things in life, not just a literal wine bottle.
If you and your campfire company are into country music, then this is a classic you can’t miss. Having only a few chords to learn, this is a great song to sit down and play out in nature.
Country music around the campfire is just one of those things that, just as the song suggests, gets sweeter with time! You’ll look back on that memory and it’ll just get better and better.
Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver
Take me home by John Denver is a great song to learn and play on guitar. It eventually became John Denver's most popular song, and it continues to sell millions of Records in the US. Some will go as far as to say that it's John Denver's signature song.
Released in 1971 as a single, it’s another great classic to play when you're out on the road or just sitting around the campfire. Nothing beats playing some John Denver and staring up at the starry sky.
Where the Green Grass Grows by Tim McGraw
This is one of those country songs from the 90’s (1997) that makes you want to move out into the country. Or, if you’re already out in the country, this makes you want to head outside and enjoy every moment of the country life even more!
“Where the green grass grows… where the peaceful river flows… point our rockin’ chairs towards the west”. What a life. That right there should be enough imagery to get you excited about the country.
And you know what’s even better? Learning this song and playing it out next to the campfire! There’s no better way to relive some country classics.
Days Go By by Keith Urban
This is a newer song from Keith Urban (released in 2005) that continues to be a great, classic country song to this day.
The main melody is certainly recognizable and again, not too difficult to pick up and play next to the campfire with a little practice!
“Days go by… so you better start livin’ right now… we think about tomorrow and it slips away”. It’s a great song to inspire us and remind us to start livin’ if we aren’t already. We all have a limited amount of time here on earth, so let’s make the most of it.
Sitting around the campfire and singing Days Go By is sure to be a cozy, inspiring experience. That’s for sure.
Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
Here’s an oldie from 1963 by Johnny Cash. This is another one of those songs where you can’t help but recognize the trumpet melody without instantly knowing that you’ve heard this song before.
If you’re sitting around the campfire and looking to get into some real old classics, you can’t go wrong with Johnny Cash. The best part is, you can sing along to ‘Ring of Fire’ and make the most of your outdoor adventure.
Campfire Songs for Kids
If you’re going to be taking your kids camping and anticipate sitting around the campfire singing some songs, then these are some picks you can’t miss!
Down by the Bay
A classic nursery rhyme that’s perfect to play around the campfire and have a sing along to. The lyrics are really easy for kids to pick up and remember, and the chords are simple to pick up and play as well.
This is a repeating song (rhyming) with the only difference being what you see down by the bay.
She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain
This is a very popular American nursery rhyme with very easy to remember lyrics. Once again, it repeats over and over again with a different ending each time.
Once you pick up the primary chords, you can repeat this over and over and have the kids sing along next to the campfire.
Home on the Range
A nice, calm song that kids will absolutely love to sing along to around the campfire. You may have to review the lyrics with them at first, but once they get them down this is a fun song to play and sing.
It’s relatively short (around a minute long if you just go through once with no repeats), and again, easy to play with just a few primary chords.
I’d highly recommend playing home on the range around the campfire with kids -- they’ll love it!
I Met a Bear
Another great song often sung in scouts, and perfectly fitting for a round around the campfire! You can have one lead singer and then let the kids repeat the first part of each verse.
For example, “I met a bear (I met a bear), Up in the woods (up in the woods)...” and so on, with the parts in parenthesis being repeated.
A great campfire song that’s sure to brighten the mood and get everyone singing.
This Little Light of Mine
This is another classic song that everyone can learn the lyrics to in a matter of minutes.
It’s easy to pick up the chords to, and in general a very nice song to sing along to around the campfire. The kids will love it and pick it up with extreme ease.