Top 10 Songs to Learn on Guitar and Play at a Campfire

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Pasquale works his music magic at the end of a long dirt road with a collection of friends

So I'm ready to take the campfire experience to the next level: playing guitar and singing songs. You know why?  Because a guy with a guitar and a campfire is always the coolest guy in the world.

Here's the list I'm thinking about.  Tell me, which ones am I forgetting? Which ones do you disagree with?

Top 10 Campfire Guitar Songs To Learn

Hey Jude - The Beatles; all those na-na-na's are infectious and no one can resist raising a glass and singing along

Knockin' on Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan; I'm not really crazy about this one, but people like it. Extra bonus is you can change lyrics on the fly to mock your friends and make them laugh.

Take It On The Run - REO Speedwagon, but Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers covered it at a Circus Mexicus show and absolutely clobbered it out of the park.  That's the performance that put this song on my list.

Don't Stop Believing - Journey;  Yeah, uh, good luck singing this one.

This Afternoon - Nickelback; naturally, a song about friends and good times.

Pancho and Lefty - Townes Van Zandt; popularized by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.  Even better, it's about Mexico, and friendship and the fine line we walk.

Fire and Rain - James Taylor; I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end. Yep, a song that deserves to be sung.

Green and Dumb - Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers; Is this one obscure?  That's all right, you'll like it. The ladies will swoon.

Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash;  with a line like "And I ain't seen the sunshine / since, I don't know when" Folsom makes an abrupt change from Fire and Rain. Everyone has their story.

Redemption Song - Bob Marley; just what the world needs is yet another white guy singing this one. Because a dude like me playing it is that classic white-collar-caucasian-guy-pretends-to-be-enlightened. Here's the point: you can get people to sing to this one, no prob.

Bonus Tracks, Serenades to The Lady:

Just Like Heaven - The Cure; "show me how you do that trick / the one that makes me scream she said . . ."

There She Goes - The Las, also popularized by Sixpence None The Richer.

I'll Be - Edwin McCain; play this to your wife and watch what happens.

The Non-Negotiable

Rocky Mountain High - John Denver; Corny or cool?

So, uh, how's my list?  Approve, disapprove, suggest changes?


+6 / -5
# Dave 2011-01-13 08:59
I'll let you have your John Denver but you forgot Time of your life by Green Day.
+11 / -16
# Bob 2012-08-30 19:33
The song is called Good Riddance noob
+8 / -3
# Austin 2013-05-29 14:39
it goes by both names ass clown
+4 / -4
# Hhhkgjjjcg 2013-07-23 19:18
Quoting Dave:
I'll let you have your John Denver but you forgot Time of your life by Green Day.

Green day sucks
+2 / -3
# P.L.K. 2011-01-13 10:40
Good list! Dunno about Journey so I would change that with Tom Petty Free Fallin'.
+9 / -2
# Pasquale 2011-01-13 10:52
Here's two more from my list to yours:

Get Back (Beatles)

Under the Milky Way (The Church)

As always great writing and photography Mark
+4 / 0
# Mark 2011-01-13 16:31
Good picks, P. Good picks.
+4 / 0
# James 2013-02-11 12:25
Quoting Pasquale:

Get Back (Beatles)

That is a cool song! :-)
+4 / -1
# Sabine 2011-01-13 11:08
LOL i thought it was going to be a list of children songs!
+7 / 0
# Mark 2011-01-13 16:34
Sabine, sweetie, stick around. You'll see why this site is called :-)
+7 / 0
# FJRemmie 2011-01-30 12:01
Nice selections! Especially Green & Dumb by RCPM. Can't forget Jack vs. Jose. Although I may be a bit biased seein' how I'm "born and raised in Arizona don't ya know!?"
Mark Stephens
+2 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2011-01-31 16:12
Quoting FJRemmie:
Although I may be a bit biased seein' how I'm "born and raised in Arizona don't ya know!?"

*Mark so totally likes this post*
+4 / 0
# Joash 2011-02-11 17:11
Hey Mark, great writing and beautiful pictures as usual.
That list is legit. :-) Here's a couple that went over well at the UP overland campfires this past fall in upper MI

Long Train runnin'- Doobie Brothers
Hallelujah- Jeff Buckley (-ish)

Happy adventures.
0 / -1
# Mark 2011-02-12 08:31
Oh, man! Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah. Great one. But I make no guarantees on my singing :D
Ernie Ruiz
+1 / -1
# Ernie Ruiz 2011-06-14 13:21
Mark, Green and Dumb is obscure but I have yet to meet someone that I have introduced to RCPM while camping that doesn’t end up owning at least one of their albums.
+3 / 0
# Mark 2011-06-14 20:41
I think one of the coolest things about playing songs at the campfire is learning some songs by an artist you never knew existed.
+5 / 0
# Pasquale 2011-06-14 21:47
and the fact that this thread still lives...
One song I will learn is by Crowded House - "don't dream its over" awesome chords and lyrics...
+2 / 0
# Mark 2011-06-17 15:18
Hell of a pick. Here's a great version, live of course:

The chords are great, lyrics fantastic. Not easy to sing...
+6 / 0
# Drew 2012-10-11 12:53
Good list! A couple I would add:

Brown Eyed Girl- Van Morrisson
House of the Rising Sun- Animals
Proud Mary/Down on the corner- CCR
Wish you were here- Pink Floyd
Rocky Raccoon/Yellow Submarine- Beatles
Shook me all night long- AC/DC
I love rock and roll- Joan Jett
I'm yours- Jason Mraz
Burn one down (if you smoke)
Red Solo Cup- Toby Keith

and purely for amusement, to get everyone laughing:
Hero- Julio Iglesias
+1 / -1
# Drew 2012-10-11 12:55
opps I mean Enrique Iglesias. And it is a great and beautiful song, not just funny!
+4 / 0
# Pasquale 2012-10-11 13:47
I have been adding to my song list:

Heart of Gold - Neil Young
Old Man - Neil Young
Doors - Riders on the storm
Face in the Crowd - Tom Petty
Ventura Highway - America
Horse with no name - America

This thread will never get old...
Mark Stephens
0 / -1
# Mark Stephens 2013-03-13 23:12
Quoting Pasquale:
This thread will never get old...

Mark Stephens
0 / -1
# Mark Stephens 2012-10-14 17:49
Just this morning I heard What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. I bet that'd be a winner among a good clan wrapped around a campfire.

Nice adds, gents.
Sarah D
+6 / 0
# Sarah D 2012-11-19 22:13
We ALWAYS end up singing Wagon Wheel. It's non negotiable.
+2 / -1
# Sebastian 2013-03-13 20:57
Hey there delilah - Plain White T's
+3 / 0
# Debbie 2013-03-13 21:13
What an awesome song list! I'm definitely going to add a few of these to mine. Not sure if you've seen my post of campfire songs with Marty Schwartz guitar tutorials? It's at Cat Stevens is a must for us : )
Mark Stephens
+2 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2013-03-27 10:37
OMG, you have Sweet Caroline on the list. Another good one.

Every once in a while I'll hear Mr. Big's "To Be With You," though I'm not exactly fond of the tune it is super catchy and people like it. Check out the hair in this video. Hilarious!

Mark Stephens
+1 / -1
# Mark Stephens 2013-03-14 01:04
Holiday in Spain by Counting Crows.

Super easy, super catchy, super likable.
+2 / 0
# Vrock 2013-04-23 21:25
Have to have 'American Pie' by Don McLean for sure...gets the crowd going!
+3 / 0
# rainbow 2013-05-08 14:37
let it be
0 / -1
# Aaron 2013-05-31 07:10
Circus Mexicus in 9 days! You going?
Mark Stephens
0 / -1
# Mark Stephens 2013-05-31 09:53
No, got other plans. You going? Tip one back for me!
+1 / -1
# Bill 2013-07-14 14:44
Jack Johnson is always a good choice for bonfires

-upside down/walk alone
-Holes to Heaven

And also "Hey Ya" by Outkast!
0 / -1
# Stan 2013-07-16 15:10
Some other good easy songs to learn are: margaritaville by jimmy buffet, should have been a cowboy toby kieth, on the road again willie nelson. Have you ever seen the rain ccr
+1 / -1
# Ant 2013-08-01 04:36
Horse with no name is a great and simple one
+1 / -1
# Jason 2013-09-01 22:51
What about:

Hit me baby one more time (the Travis cover)
Tiny Dancer
Shelter from the Storm
Come As You Are
Rock n Roll Suicide
Sweet Jane
What I Got
Don't Let Me Down
While my Guitar gently Weeps
Tangled Up in Blue
Ziggy Stardust
Jumping Jack Flash
7 Nation Army
Me and Bobby McGee
My Sweet Lord

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