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Photo: dphiffer

EVER LAUGHED at the poor dude getting on and off boats and buses with a pack and a guitar? Well they’re not as dumb as they look. Their time comes.

Because, if they can find a campfire, they’ll be in their element. And if they can play just a handful of the following campfire songs, they won’t be going back to their Thai beach hut alone.

Some are oldies, some are new. Some are cheesy. Some are cool. Some weren’t cool but magically are again. With a beer in your hand and the sun setting, guitar dude suddenly becomes the coolest guy in the world.

If you can’t play, check out our Spotify playlist that has all of the campfire songs below.

The 50 greatest campfire songs of all time

1. “House of the Rising Sun” – The Animals
2. “Let It Be” – The Beatles
3. “Ain’t No Sunshine” – Bill Withers
4. “Time of Your Life” – Green Day
5. “Blowin’ in the Wind” – Bob Dylan
6. “Our House” – Crosby, Still Nash & Young
7. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” – Crowded House
8. “Something Inside So Strong” – Labi Siffre
9. “Love Song” – The Cure
10. “True Colours” – Cyndi Lauper
11. “Hotel California” – The Eagles
12. “In the Ghetto” – Elvis Presley
13. “Leaving on a Jet Plane” – Frank Sinatra
14. “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” – Harry Belafonte
15. “Fire and Rain” – James Taylor
16. “Hallelujah” – John Cale
17. “Working Class Hero” – John Lennon
18. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver
19. “Wandering Star” – Lee Marvin
20. “California Dreamin’” – The Mamas and the Papas
21. “Redemption Song” – Joe Strummer & Johnny Cash
22. “Talkin’ About a Revolution” – Tracy Chapman
23. “Daydream Believer” – The Monkees
24. “Down in Albion” – Baby Shambles
25. “Forever in Blue Jeans” – Neil Diamond
26. “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” – Neil Young
27. “Come As You Are” – Nirvana
28. “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” – Otis Redding
29. “Baby, I Love Your Way” – Peter Frampton
30. “Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd
31. “Dirty Old Town” – The Pogues
32. “King of the Road” – The Proclaimers
33. “Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M.
34. “Killing Me Softly with His Song” – Roberta Flack
35. “Vincent” – Don McLean
36. “Handbags and Gladrags” – Rod Stewart
37. “Wonderwall” – Ryan Adams
38. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” – Sacha Distel
39. “New Slang” – The Shins
40. “Mrs. Robinson” – Simon & Garfunkel
41. “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” – The Smiths
42. “Grazed Knees” – Snow Patrol
43. “Lost in Hollywood” – System of a Down
44. “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” – The Temptations
45. “Africa” – Toto
46. “Handle with Care” – Traveling Wilburys
47. “All I Want Is You” – U2
48. “Island in the Sun” – Weezer
49. “She’s Not There” – The Zombies
50. “There She Goes” – The La’s

Now that you’ve got the list, Learn how to play the greatest campfire songs.

* This post was originally published on April 13, 2007

Pop Culture


About The Author

Steve Jackson

Steve Jackson compiled this list. His Ipod was revered in his old Hanoi hang out at Le Pub at 25 Hang Be Street. Having moved to Nicaragua, he’s now trying to find it a new home. Read about his adventures at Our Man In Granada.

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  • Jim

    Do you have the words? I cannot remember them.

  • ianmack

    hi jim — lyrics are pretty easy to find all over the web. Just do a search for “song title + lyrics” and your bound to find them quick.

  • Stacy

    Great list! I alway feel like people are going to laugh if I make any song suggestions, but here are some I would add…
    Sammy Johns- Chevy Van
    Logo- I’d Love You to Want Me
    Three Dog Night- Never Been to Spain
    and these would be on my mp3, because I have no musical talent…

  • ianmack

    actually, there’s two more that never made the cut, which is tantamount to blasphemy…

    1. To Be With You – Mr. Big
    2. More Than Words – Extreme

    Without these, might as well put the campfire out. ;-D

  • ourman

    Ian – you soft rocker you.

    You had a poodle perm once, right?

  • Othemts

    “One Tin Soldier” must be on that list. It’s not a good song, but I think every time I’ve ever heard it was around a campfire.

  • ianmack

    @ othemts – haha, i love that. “It’s not a good song, but…”

    and yes, ourman, i had a poodle perm once. not pretty.

  • Dave

    I’ve found “Burn One Down” by Ben Harper to be a classic song popular with backpackers. Wonder why! And it’s easy to play on the guitar.

  • Stu The Mad Aussie

    mm no ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ by the hunters and collectors. Eddie Vedder proclaims it ‘the greatest campfire song ever’… nuff said.. plus its australian! so bonus! :)

  • Daniel Harbecke

    I never thought I could get so much out of headphones as I did with Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball. I don’t even like country much, not that this was a country album…

    Not sure how you’d play those songs at a campfire, though. But I saw Africa by Toto up there and have the same concern about that one.

    Anything Beatles or James Taylor (Fire and Rain, anyone?) sets a “light rock/adult contemporary” mood. With a good beer buzz, getting cheesy becomes an art form.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    To being cheesy! Clink!

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Still, thank God nobody suggested My Sharona. For that, it’d have to be tequila…

  • Pingback: A Newbie’s Guide To Surfing

  • Tim Patterson

    Ha. great list.

  • Tim Patterson

    The dude with the guitar might get some action…but the dude with the sitar is pretty much the coolest guy on the face of the planet.

  • Jim

    How about some marshall tucker, John Prine (That’s the Way the World Goes Round), anything from Jimmy Buffet, Pure Praire League (Amie), and I love that someone said Three Dog Night (Never been to Spain), Tim Hardin (If I Were a Carpenter), Bare Naked Ladies (If I had a Million Dollars), the very heavy on the swearing Rodeo Song (It’s Forty below and I don’t give a blank), Steve Earl (Guitar Town), Roger Miller (King of the Road), Neil Diamond (Sweet Caroline) and we can not forget to add John Denver. That’s my short list
    Rock-On Dudes and Dudettes I’ll be pickin’ & a grinnin’, campin’ & a Jammin’ in Vermont. Oh yeah, one more, anything off of the Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack (Man of Constant Sarrow).

  • eric hilton

    elderly lady – pearl jam

  • Jenny Williams

    How about the girl with the guitar? Do we get no love?

    I’d add Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country.” Also, “Hallelujah” (#16) was written by Leonard Cohen; John Cale and Jeff Buckley both covered it.

  • N. Chrystine Olson

    I throw the need for some bluegrass tunes…something I can flatfoot clog to with mandolins, fiddles, a banjo, and absolutely, a girl on guitar! ;)

    Classics include “Wlidwood Flower” and “Old Joe Clark”…pass the moonshine and jam till sunrise. The Strawberry Music Festival opens tomorrow outside of Yosemite. In deference I may need to tune up my dulcimer gathering dust on the coffee table…

  • Matty D.

    one that definately needs to be there is “over the hills and far away” by led zeppelin. also, “save tonight” (i guarantee you’ve heard it before” by eagle eye cherry is a good one.

  • matt

    two coins – dispatch
    your song – elton john
    american pie – don mclean
    3 musts

  • Lynnae

    Do any of you know if there are any good CDs out there that have some of these great songs on them played only on the guitar so we can sing along? No one in our party plays the guitar and camping just isn't done right unless you have some singing around the campfire! I'm not really up to learning guitar yet, but if I can't find this CD, I may have to try and pick it up. Thanks!

  • Desmond

    I am a little surpirsed that American Pie didn’t make the cut, I also like Landslide and Blackbird

    I can’t believe there was no mention of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing … isn’t that the most infectious sing a long ever? Ever time I have been in a bar where that was played there were about 100 people singing it so badly that I had to get another 7 shots of tequilla to calm the noise down. Also it seems like Garth Brooks has made some pretty good sing alongs. Great list though.

  • Nicke

    Where is CCR???
    You cant have a campfire whithout a couple of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs now can you?
    Great list if you don’t consider the lack of CCR though :D

  • Abbas

    How in Eric Clapton’s name could u guys forget the greatest campfire song everwritten in the entire history of this world?


  • Sarah

    I love American Pie by Don Mclean, too. Snow by Red Hot Chilli Peppers is also good.

  • Bo

    Redemption Song – Bob Marley

    and although many people are unfamiliar with this, i think it certainly has the camp fire feel: Acoustic Medley , which is also Bob Marley


  • Carlo Alcos

    One song I play that always sounds impressive but is actually quite easy is Everlong by the Foo Fighters.

    A well-known song, yet obscure at the same time (for the acoustic guitar) is Abba’s (yes, you heard right) Knowing Me, Knowing You…Evan Dando did a killer cover of it and I had to learn it.

    And I always, ALWAYS, end the night with GnR’s Patience…it’s got it all…whistling, a slow build up, a break in the middle for dramatic effect, sing-along parts, and an Axl Rose sigh at the end just means it’s time to go to bed.

  • Ben

    good list, i would have to add one song though -

    American Pie – Don McLean

  • Jake

    Gogol Bordello – Wonderlust King

    Easily changed to Wanderlust King. The music would have to be changed a bit to make it sound good with just a guitar but I think it could work.

  • Scott

    “King of the Road” – Roger Miller

    The proclaimers are fine and all, but you can’t deny Mr. Miller his credit for this classic tune.

  • VG

    Jim had some good picks on his long list but so did a lot of the rest of you. American Pie for sure & I’ve got to agree about Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”. It was the 1st song I ever learned all the words to & that was before I was 5. Roger is classic!….Anyways Jim, here’s another I’d add to your list that I didn’t see & I always hear it at the campfire singalongs, it’s Dust in the Wind – Kansas.

  • sara

    you cant have a campfire without “wagon wheel” by old crow medecine show, hands down the best campfire song there is. i also like cat stevens “moon shadow” or “father and son” ANY beatles song.

  • Brown

    Mr Jones – Counting Crows

  • Carlo Alcos

    Ooh ooh ooh…just thought of one. Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn. Classic.

  • Judy

    Well, although this list contains many of my favorite songs of all time, it wasn’t what I expected to read when I read the title, “50 Greatest Campfire Songs of All Time.” I expected to see “Kumbaya” and “This Land is Your Land” on there. That’s what we sang around the campfire at Girl Scout Camp.

  • NomadicNeil

    For some reason the locals in South East Asia love, Hotel California by the Eagles and the Winds of Change by the Scorpions. :D

  • ally1717

    “Lean on Me”.
    The best.
    Especially for groups.

  • Kara

    Completely agree on “New Slang” :). I plan on playing it around the campfire this weekend in fact. 5 thumbs up for the comment on Cat Stevens. Another suggestion for us girly guitarists is Mazzy Star, “Fade Into You”. It’s got a nice slow, flowing type of sound that just means it’s time to stare into the fire and relax. Probably not a good song to start/ end the night on…maybe a good 3/4 of the way through the night type song!

  • A.Mac

    I would suggest the Rufus Wainwright version of Hallelujah, personally, though the original Leonard Cohen version would be more suitable for purists… A great list, though, truly! I might also add Light Up My Room by the Barenaked Ladies. It’s not as well known, I know, but it has a Wonderful mood and a perfect guitar part for campfires.

  • Cool

    Cool list. I would like to see Blind Melon in there (Change) and maybe Kings of Leon (sex is on fire). But everyone has there own taste. Bob Marley make good sings a longs and of course most Beatles songs.
    Did you mean Wonderwall by Oasis…not Ryan Adams…Noel Gallagher wrote it.

    • Carlo

      I think he just means Ryan Adams’s version of it, since it’s acoustic. Change by Blind Melon is a great addition. Love that song (and play it too!)

  • Steve

    I am so happy to see that One Tin Soldier is not on this list. I once dreamed of getting rich, buying the rights to One Tin Soldier and using Disney to prevent it from ever being sung around a campfire.

    Ah, a peaceful One Tin Soldier-free campfire.

  • SayBlade

    Hey! What about Ian and Sylvia Tyson’s Four Strong Winds?

    For the younger set: I’m in the Queen’s Navy, Boom Boom Ain’t it Great to be Crazy, Black Socks, The Prune Song, Gunderback and to the tune of Louie Louie there was Pharoh Pharoh. Finally, there’s Bill Grogan’s Goat or Old Hiram’s Goat depending upon which camp you went to.

  • baracuda

    Slayer…Raining Blood..

    ok…maybe not…

  • Eoin McCarthy

    I’ve seen trying to come up with a definitive list of songs to play around campfires and at parties. I think the types of songs that should be played are ones that (non-musical) people should know well and know the words to, something that could only be said for about 50% of the songs above.

    If anyone would like to help me define “What is a party song?” or help me pick out a few tracks, visit (cheesy name, I know!!)

  • larry

    How about Brown eyed girl,shootlng star,the nite they drove ol dixie down just to name a few more.

  • dfgh

    Tenacious D – Tribute, Fuck Her Gently… actually that whole album.

  • Odana

    Mad, mad props on the Country Roads inclusion. It’s a dear, dear part of who I am as a West Virginian (that mostly hates the WV, but loves it in measures, as well)… even though the song is technically about WestERN Virginia, our evil twin.

    “Oh, you’re from West Virginia? I have relatives in Raleigh!”
    “Oh, really? Do they not know that West Virginia is a separate state as well?”

    Mad, mad frowns on the exclusion of Tiny Dancer.
    Mad, mad, mad frowns.

  • Cara

    Brown Eyed Girl-Van Morrison, for sure, along with Can’t Stop-Red Hot Chili Peppers and Stand by Me-Ben E. King. How did these not make it on here?

  • Braden

    I really like that list. I do. I like it a lot but, the Green Day song at number 4 on the list that you are thinking of is called “Good Riddance” not ,as it is always and consistently mislabeled, “Time of Your Life”. Bonus points for that Bill Withers song and the Tracy Chapman song.

  • Yim

    I was with you right up to the point where you started naming songs. Having a guitar at the right time and place, and being able to put it to work, is certainly one of the greatest things ever. That said, your list could use some serious pruning. If these are your idea of the “50 Best…” you need to quit giving advice and start listening to more music!

  • Kat

    No Sublime? Our campfires are not complete without a sing-along to “What I Got” by Sublime. Our campfires also mainly consist of rock climbers in their 20-30′s…;-)

  • David

    Whiskey in the Jar!

  • zayd


    best campfire song EVER

  • brandon

    how can you put green day on here and not pink floyds greatest campfire song WISH YOU WHERE HERE

  • marlene

    Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison. All time fav.

  • Justin

    Wonderwall by Ryan Adams? Hmm?

  • Colten

    Cover of the Rolling Stone – Dr Hook

    One of the best campfire songs, and its not here.

  • Real Music

    This is stupid. No animal collective? They have an album called campfire songs. These are just the sappiest of all the retarded mainstream music out there. No Wilco? No Bon Iver? No Sigur Ros? Have half of you even heard of any of these REAL musicians? This is ridiculous. Do yourselves a favor and look for the kind of music they don’t play on the radio. It’s much more rewarding and makes for MUCH better campfires.

    • redfreckles

      appreciate your appreciation for off-the-track tracks. : )

  • Good Manners

    There’s no reason to be a snob about your taste in music, the music on this list makes sense because it’s popular so you don’t need to bash us over the head with the fact that it’s mainstream just to put ourself up on some indie pedestal. Yes your music is good too so just post some suggestions that represent you instead of trying to undercut the entire list that’s a good representative of songs people are familiar with and would know the words to in order to sing along.

    • tasty jones

      I hear you but the title of the article is (The 50 greatest campfire songs of all time) come on man…. I didn’t ever curse him, like others. Sure he has his taste but when the title is the 50 greatest campfire songs of all time and he’s got Killing me soflty with his song and talkin about a revolution in there im going to suggest the ones to take their place.

  • Kara

    I chuckle to myself, picturing 15 people around a campfire trying to sing along as I bust out Glosoli (Sigur Ros)…just to explain fully…Sigur Ros has a made up language that they sing in. :)
    @ Real Music-Come on, covering Sigur Ros may be a good performance if you can pull it off with one voice and one guitar, but you can’t tell me they work as a sing along campfire song.

  • Lee Hughes

    House of the Rising Sun

  • MIchelle

    I totally agree Kara!

    I am pretty sure that most people don’t speak Hopelandic. : )

  • alex

    what about chasing cars by snow patrol

    • linh

      Sure- i really love the song Chasing car, its so incredible. i love that.

  • Dan

    I love the lyrics of this song. what do you think?

    On My Honor

    On my honor I will try
    There’s a duty to be done, and I say “Aye”
    There’s a reason here for the reason above
    My honor is to try and my duty is to love.

    People don’t need to know my name
    If I’ve done any harm then I’m to blame
    If I’ve helped another then I’ve helped me
    And I’ve opened up my eyes to see.

    I’ve tucked away a song or two
    If you’re feeling low, there’s one for you
    If you need a friend, then I will come
    And there’s many more where I come from.

    Come with me where the fire burns bright
    We can see even better by a candle’s light
    We’ll find more meaning in a campfire’s glow
    Than we’ve ever learned in a year or so.

    We’ve made a promise to always keep
    And pray softly fall before we sleep
    We’ll be Scouts together and when we’re gone
    They’ll still be trying and singing this song.

  • TheReviewer

    I like “Everybody Hurts”. Good sad song.

  • joemoe

    (in their coolest versions to download)

    that just means – we were to lazy to find the original

  • Jamil

    Haven’t heard the Sacha Distel “Raindrops keep falling on my head”. Heard the B.J. Thomas one. Don’t see any CCR either.

  • justadude

    Here’s a lesser known song that I highly recommend. Old Number 7 by Devil Makes Three. Also, our campfires aren’t complete without Flogging Molly’s What’s Left of the Flag.

  • ryan

    If you were to ask Maria, Jackson and Maddi, they would say “Kumbaya, my Lord” is # 1!!!!

  • Tim

    Great list Steve.

    Get rid of the aweful script that pops up if you right click on the page however. I wanted to look for a few of these songs on Youtube and instead some third party ad server keeps popping up.


    Otherwise I enjoyed the list.

    • Carlo Alcos

      Tim, not sure what you mean. Are you trying to copy the song name by highlighting and right clicking? Seems to be working for me no problem.

  • Mada

    could have American Pie on there too? :D heh that’s a good song, as well as

    I think that guy was being too harsh,
    these songs are great :)
    you done a really good job on choosing, i needed a list like this! :)
    It annoys me how people complain, but why don’t they just make their own list? :P
    Simples! ;) saying that, I’m complaining lol fail >.<

    Anyway's back to the list :b i'm learning some of these songs so i can Busk/play at festivals/ ect so I really do appreciate the list :)

    thank you !

  • Brianna

    I’d like to add a song to the list. Has anyone ever heard of “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show? An amazing campfire song.

    • Chris

      OCMS!!! WAGON WHEEL!! listen to this girl steve, she knows her shit!

  • Babsccc

    no offense dude but these are some of the worst campfire songs I ever heard…they are great songs I admit, but I don’t think you have ever sat around a campfire. People need to sing along…no one will sing along with In the Ghetto, or The La’s or half the other songs you posted..Gladbags and Hand rags? Have you ever heard on Maggie May? I honestly think you posted this list as a joke, please remove it from the internet so people stop wasting time looking at it.

    • norcal

      now thats funny!

  • Guest

    Baby Shambles down in albion is a whole album..not one song..

  • Djwhitenorth

    i don’t know, be my guess but this is my list:

    save tonight-eagle eye cherry
    i’m yours-jason mraz
    price tag-jessie j
    house of a rising sun-animals
    a song by pink floyd which i don’t know the name=$
    and many more…

    can you guys add some?i’m going camping soon and i don’t have many songs to play

  • Mikkik

    How about one tin soldier? 

  • Fff

    No offense dude…But I am going to offend the hell out of you!

  • Deescheepers

    Different strokes for different folks I guess.  I really like your list of songs.  I’m compiling a booklet to take with on our next camping trip and these are great songs to take along

  • huberrrrrrrrrrrr

    @babseee you can suck my dick. just cuz you have no guitar skill doesnt mean you should criticize a list full of good old songs that not everybody needs to sing along with, but they should catch the campers attention and make them listen, and maybe even show off….this isnt 1950 im sorry to tell has long since then evolved into sophisticated music that takes skill. if you dont like the list make you own and stfu

  • Dwade

    i think this list is total bullshit…who the hell is goin to sing along to all of these negroe spirituals or whatever the hell you got these songs out of…really as a musician i take this offensive to even put these songs on here…ever heard of lynrd skynyrd??? tom petty?? LITTLE WAYNE FOR GOD SAKES!!!!!

    • Chopper

       he got Tom Petty in there…no. 46

  • BearClaw///

    Good ideas! Dwade can go to his campfire and sing “simple man” and “drop the world” but i like the list.

    I think “In the Jungle” should be added. Most people know it, and its a catchy tune when played right.

    C, F, C, G

  • tasty jones

    6,8,10,14,17,18,19,21,22,23,24,25,26,29,30,31,36,38,39,41,42,43,44,46, and 47 are AWEFULL

    sweet home alabama
    simple man
    free bird
    brown eyed girl
    hey jude
    why georga why
    crash into me
    puff the magic dragon
    stairway to heaven
    every rose has its thorn
    need somebody
    your body is a wonderland
    just about any clapton song
    cats in the craidle
    cheese burger in a paradise
    dust in the wind
    with arms wide open

    the list goes on. there are way way better songs than the numbers I listed above. Even some of the ones that are good that you posted are mainly for piano and not for the guitar. Some are dead on but man…… there are so many more awesome songs. I just dont ever have any people asking to hear those songs and Ive been at alot of campfires.

  • mags

    no led zep??? no tent action.

  • Spends2much2

    I think you all should go hang yourselves.  Those are great songs for people who grew up when music was real music!

  • Ccsjnelken

    dude these ain’t real campfire songs!!! what about “O my darling Clementine”!!!!!!!

  • Trent Ekberg

    Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).
    – Green Day.

  • Jenna Tofflemire

    A great list! And with all of the comments – I’ve compiled an even better list of 100 great songs! I do have to add a bit of Canadian flavour however…
    Some of the best classic camp songs ever:
    Wheat Kings – The Tragically Hip.
    Bad Timing, Cry, 5 days in July – Blue Rodeo.
    Harvest Moon – Neil Young.

  • Rachel Schuck

    What no Johnny Cash? tsk, tsk..

  • Arnie Tupuritis

    Teach Your Children, Southern Cross, Long May You Run, Heart of Gold, Stewball

  • Jesse Zellmer

    I’m pleasantly surprised that SOAD made the list! But Blackbird by The Beatles would be an awesome campfire song to play at night too!

  • Darryl Judd

    no creedence? should be at least 5 on that list.

    • Garlen Minassian

      I totally agree with you!!!

    • Tony Kennedy

      No CCR, No Doors and No Bob Market. The author of this list should be ashamed. Did like the “Forever in Blue Jeans” inclusion though.

    • Tony Kennedy

      Marley. Damm auto correct

  • Rochelle Vincent

    Top list, would suggest sweet Caroline that always gets a sing up!

    • Ange Person

      You do a good Sweet Caroline if memory serves!

  • A Dubs

    How the hell is Lynard Skynard not on here? ….”all i can do is write it in a song” is one of the best campfire tunes. ….amazing

  • Christopher D’Arcy

    Singing around a campfire isn’t about getting laid dude. it’s about communing.
    What it leads to is anybody’s guess.
    Get the credits right man! You need to credit the songs to the writers, not the performers.

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