/ / 57 Best Campfire Songs On Guitar [With Tabs]

57 Best Campfire Songs On Guitar [With Tabs]

Best Campfire Songs You Can Play On Guitar

Campfires and music go hand in hand, so bulking up your songbook with the best campfire songs is a sure way to enhance any camping experience. These songs all have the same things in common:

  • Popular appeal
  • Simple lyrics
  • Easy to play

Skim through and find the best song choices to tuck away in your mind and bring along on your next camping trip. We have even included the easy campfire guitar tabs that you need to streamline your learning process.

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Contents

“American Pie” by Don McLean

Song year: 1971

Tab

“American Pie” starts off sad, but the mood of the song is redeemed by the end.

It provides a commentary that most know, even if they do not share the mindset, and it boasts a beltable chorus revered by many.

“Hotel California” by Eagles

Song year: 1976

Tab

Once again, we seem to relate to songs that deal with the darker aspects of life, and “Hotel California” certainly comments on these things.

There are plenty of theories about the actual meaning of the song, but what it sits at is that the song resonates with everyone.

“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison

Song year: 1967

Tab

Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” was actually considered to be too explicit at the time, but apparently not so explicit that it would not become a campfire favorite.

You should be fine playing it around younger children, but you may have to explain a line or two.

“Stand by Me” by Ben E King

Song year: 1961

Tab

This song has been around for 60 years and it is still loved by most who hear it, but it was almost never recorded by King. He wrote the song for the group he was with prior, The Drifters, but they passed on the song that would become a timeless classic.

Luckily for us, King proceeded to record the song on his own, and now it is around to entertain any who work to keep the sound alive.

“Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash

Song year: 1963

Tab

What better song is there to sing when you are sitting by a fire? This classic Johnny Cash song was written by his future wife, June Carter.

The song is apparently a capsule of how Carter felt about Cash and his wild ways.

“Hey Jude” by The Beatles

Song year: 1968

Tab

While this is not as upbeat as some of the other campfire songs, “Hey Jude” has certainly earned its way into this list.

The song embraces the sorrow that comes with separation, but it reminds us that there is always something else waiting for us beyond what we can see, and that is a message worthy of group singing.

Plus, you know you want to hear the collective “na”s at the end, even if they are dissonant.

“Yesterday” by The Beatles

Song year: 1965

Tab

You cannot have too many Beatles songs on this list, but we will try to limit it. The issue is that so many of them check off everything you need for a great campfire song, and “Yesterday” is no exception.

Everyone can relate to the yearning and wanting to live in the past, even if it is just one day. This song could cycle for hours and no one would get sick of it.

“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Greenday

Song year: 1997

Tab

This sweet song has a nostalgic feel to it, and it can be a great reminder to live in the moment. This sense makes it a fantastic choice for a campfire song, and you can easily create momentum within a moment.

Green Day is well known for its satirical work, so it is interesting to see a somber piece do just as well and stick in the minds of so many people.

“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond

Song year: 1969

Tab

If you do not think this is a campfire hit then belt out “Sweet Caroline” in a crowd and see what happens. Odds are at least one other person will join in without question.

This Neil Diamond is classic, and when it was brought back to light by the show Glee a whole new generation got stuck to its bright, upbeat tune.

“Wonderwall” by Oasis

Song year: 1995

Tab

The rule is you have to play “Wonderwall” anytime you pull a guitar out in a public setting. We do not make the rules.

Jokes aside, there is a reason this song is so popular. It has managed to stay on everyone's mind for more than 25 years. Even those who claim not to like it cannot ignore the brightness and hope that lives in the song.

“Yellow” by Coldplay

Song year: 2000

Tab

“Yellow” has the same toned-down joy, a bittersweet sound.

While most consider “Yellow” to be a happy song, there are undertones that highlight a degree of unrequited love. Nevertheless, it is a gentle hit that is soft to sing and play.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver

Song year: 1971

Tab

This song is the equivalent of wolves howling in the night.

It is a beautiful testimony to where you have come from and where you want to be, and it lives through the shared idea that home waits for us somewhere.

“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz

Song year: 2008

Tab

This is another popular song that can cause an impromptu flash mob with enough energy. The song sat in Billboard's Hot 100 chart for 76 weeks, a record at the time.

The guitar line is simple and repetitive, basically perfect for a campfire song. You can also improve the scat singing section for as long as you like.

“No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley

Song year: 1974

Tab

Despite having deeply personal lyrics, the song is credited to Vincent Ford as the writer.

Most believe that Bob Marley credited the song to Ford so the royalties would go to the soup kitchen that Ford ran in Trenchtown. Either way, the song is an emotional genius at work.

“Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia

Song year: 1997

Tab

Singing this at the top of your lungs is a therapeutic experience on its own, sans guitar.

Still, throw in that instrumental line and no one is walking away from the campfire the same.

“She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” by Ramblin Tommy Scott

Song year:

Tab

This is a definite oldie-but-goodie, and it had to be included.

You may have picked up on the song’s religious undertones, but the widespread version you hear sung today is from a secularized interpretation that was popular with railroad workers.

“You Are My Sunshine” by Johnny Cash

Song year: 1969

Tab

“You Are My Sunshine” boasts the sweetest chorus, but when you look into the verses you may question this decision.

Even with lyrics referring to affairs and lost love, the entire piece is really beautiful.

“Swing Life Away” by Rise Against

Song year: 2004

Tab

This song served as an acoustic edge that rooted hardcore rock band Rise Against's sound. “Swing Life Away” talks about the simpler aspects of living day to day and being in love, but not in a voice of remorse.

The song is simple, but it does well to connect people and remind everyone that we live our lives one day at a time. This is sure to be a campfire hit to bring everyone together.

“Killing Me Softly with His Song” by Roberta Flack

Song year: 1973

Tab

Roberta Flack’s version is a cover of a Lori Lieberman song released the year prior. A lot of Flack’s success is thought to be due to her background in classical music, with the addition of backup vocals and harmonies filling it out nicely.

While your campfire crowd may not be able to harmonize well, the mood of the song can be captured by any group of like-minded individuals.

“Lean on Me” by Bill Withers

Song year: 1972

Tab

“Lean on Me” is the ultimate come-together song that puts forth a message of unity and friendship.

The song has a simple rhythm that is easy to pick up, and other members of your camp can use tree stumps or other percussive material to add that steady bassline to the song.

Regardless of how you arrange it, the song is powerful and should be a welcome addition to your campfire setlist.

“Kumbaya” by Peter, Paul, & Mary

Song year: 1998

Tab

We should start by pointing out that “Kumbaya” has a disputed origin, but we know that it is a spiritual song tied to African American culture. The word “kumbaya” translates to “come by here,” and the song was a plea for God to come down and help.

As time has progressed people have taken creative liberties to transform the song, but at its heart, it remains an emotional piece.

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

Song year: 1984

Tab

You might be surprised to find out that “Hallelujah” was not instantly heralded for its brilliance. It was not until Bob Dylan started to play it at some underground shows in 1988 that the song began to gain traction, and it still took another six years before the song took off.

Since then, though, it has been smooth sailing. While not everyone has the verses memorized, the song still resonates and the chorus allows ample opportunity for sweet harmony.

“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac

Song year: 1977

Tab

This ethereal hit has reemerged in recent years, but the song never really did go away. “Dreams” has a timeless appeal that goes over great by a campfire, and it provides another chance to tap into the moment and unshoulder your burdens.

If you are camping, though, you should be aware that thunder (and lightning) can still happen, even if it is not raining. Stay vigilant.

“Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty

Song year: 1989

Tab

“Free Falling'” is one of those songs that still manages to be great, despite pockets of time in which it is overplayed.

As long as the song is still palatable to you, playing this at the campfire gives everyone the chance to let go and fly, even if only for a second.

“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

Song year: 2004

Tab

Before you explode, we do know that the chorus of “Wagon Wheel” was written and recorded by Bob Dylan back in 1973. We are just lucky that this masterpiece was finished by Ketch Secor twenty-five years later and that the song was recorded and released.

A more popular cover you may be familiar with is the one released by Darius Rucker in 2013.

“Island in the Sun” by Weezer

Song year: 2001

Tab

Circling a campfire is not exactly sitting on an island in the sun, but it stands pretty close. The song voices the desire to be carefree, a sentiment that is sure to be shared by most around your campfire.

Beyond that, the intro riff to “Island in the Sun” is pretty easy to pin down, and it is sure to catch the attention of anyone around you.

“House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals

Song year: 1964

Tab

If you need a song that features a riff you can get lost in look no further than “House of the Rising Sun”. Once you learn the pattern you can breeze through it, instead of focusing on the darker lines of the song.

The beltability of this song redeems it, so feel free to test out your vocals at the fireside.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers

Song year: 1971

Tab

This soulful song is another repetitive masterpiece that you can loop for hours at a campfire, but you can also abbreviate the song as needed.

It is perfect for shorter periods of silence, and it provides ample opportunity for accompaniment if you have any musically inclined friends.

“Our House” by Crosby, Still Nash & Young

Song year: 1970

Tab

If you like to carry on our tradition of pointing out campfire songs that mention fire, “Our House” talks about lighting a fire in the first line. ]

This is a bright start to a beautiful and warm song, something light-hearted to carry the night along.

“Imagine” by John Lennon

Song year: 1971

Tab

If you are looking for a campfire song to give you a reprieve from the stresses of everyday life “Imagine” might do it for you.

The song is well recognized, and though it is originally played on piano it has been easily adapted to guitar. There is no need to lug around a set of keys for just this moment.

“True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper

Song year: 1986

Tab

If you are looking for another song that laces the ties between everyone together you will not find anything brighter than “True Colors”.

This song thrived at the peak of the eighties, and it continues to spread a message of acceptance.

“Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Frank Sinatra

Song year: 1971

Tab

The song was originally written and recorded by John Denver in 1969, but Frank Sinatra deserved some attention on this list. His perky recording captures the beautiful moment when you have to leave someone you love, even just for a moment in time.

This is a quick-paced song that can pick up a listless night.

“Working Class Hero” by John Lennon

Song year: 1970

Tab

Though this is a heavily political song, Lennon’s criticism strikes a chord with most individuals, and it might be worth visiting with your friends and family. The song has been covered by Greenday, another musical heavyweight with a lot of political opinions.

The song has an easy chord progression to follow, and the song resonates well with those who relate.

“Talkin’ About a Revolution” by Tracy Chapman

Song year: 1988

Tab

On the same lines of Lennon’s political commentary is Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ About a Revolution”. The song starts simple, but it picks up fast.

This one is easy to fall into and play until mood changes.

“Come as You Are” by Nirvana

Song year: 1991

Tab

“Come as You Are” is one of Nirvana’s most popular songs, and it seems to capture the band well in just one song. Though “Come as You Are” is a grunge song, you can still get the same feel on your acoustic guitar.

You may not be able to tackle the solo in the second half of the song, but this is still the perfect time to tackle a rhythmic solo and let the sound settle in everyone without lyrics to tangle it up.

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

Song year: 1992

Tab

It may not be a pretty thing to picture, the fact that everybody hurts, but it certainly a reassuring idea that we are not alone in the pain. This 1992 R.E.M. hit has a simple picking pattern that lets you dig deep into the lyrics.

This is also a great option if you just need some background instrumentals for conversation.

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel

Song year: 1967

Tab

The song was adapted for the 1967 film The Graduate. The original name was going to be “Mrs. Roosevelt”, but it only made sense to change it to fit the female protagonist of The Graduate.

Seduction may not be an appropriate theme for your camping trip, but the song is simple to play and popular. It has a snarky feel, but that just might fit in well with your group.

“There is a Light that Never Goes Out” by The Smiths

Song year: 1986

Tab

The song is a bit darker than it lets on, but that seems to resonate with most audiences. “There is a Light that Never Goes Out” was voted the Greatest Song of All Time in the 1990 edition of SPIN magazine.

It is worth considering that the song glamorizes suicide. While some people may be fine with this, certain audiences would be grateful if you left it out of your songbook for the night.

“She’s Not There” by The Zombies

Song year: 1965

Tab

This song is full of attitude, and the mood transfers well to a fire-based setting. The initial riff lays down easily, and the percussive elements are easily replicated.

By the time the song picks up everyone in your group will be sure to join in, leading to an explosive chorus.

“Grazed Knees” by Snow Patrol

Song year: 2003

Tab

Snow Patrols is a master at handling emotional songs, and “Grazed Knees” is evidence of this. The song can bring about silence in the night, or it can fill one. Either way, spending just a moment in the genius of the song is worth it.

Playing this song under the stars and treetops gives you just a minute to have a main character moment.

“Lost in Hollywood” by System of a Down

Song year: 2005

Tab

This list is a bit biased to softer songs, but “Lost in Hollywood” is a great song that easily bridges the gap between harder rock and something to play to set the mood at a campfire.

The lyrical matter is a bit harder to digest, but this is the type of song that gets stuck in your chest and your mind because of its raw appeal.

“Africa” by Toto

Song year: 1982

Tab

This song may seem a bit kitschy, but it is a beautifully crafted work. The drumline drives it along, and there are plenty of vocal lines for your group to fall into.

Plus, if anyone gets lost along the way they are sure to find their way back to the chorus.

“The Joker” by Steve Miller Band

Song year: 1973

Tab

This is a laid-back song that can easily put a smile on the face of anyone in your group.

Encourage all to get into the chorus, and you can even come up with your terms that match the light-hearted feel of the piece.

“Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Song year: 1969

Tab

Ten out of ten would recommend this if you are camping riverside. “Proud Mary” is a fast-paced piece that many recognize without realizing they recognize it.

The song can easily function as a duet, or you can get everyone in your group involved.

“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John

Song year: 1971

Tab

If you are not feeling the guitar from Elton John’s original arrangement of “Tiny Dancer” you might want to check out Dave Grohl’s live performance on Kilborn.

This proves that you can adapt pretty much any iconic song to an acoustic campfire performance.

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones

Song year: 1969

Tab

This might be a song of remorse and regret, but it is a soulful piece that many will recognize.

The lyrics do point out an upside view on life, that even if you cannot get the things that you want, you can get what you need, and that is something worth more than most credit it for.

“What I Got” by Sublime

Song year: 1996

Tab

Again, not a great campfire song if there are children around, but plenty of Sublime songs have a great ska sound that translates well to an acoustic instrumental.

“What I Got” just happens to be a more appropriate and popular song, making it a top choice for this list.

“Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin

Song year: 1971

Tab

This iconic song was written by Kris Kristofferson for Janis Joplin, but she certainly added her flair to it when recording.

In the second verse, there is mention of a “harpoon”, and you may find some peace in knowing this is a slang term for a harmonica. The song is full of beautiful slang that dates it, but this all adds to the appeal.

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” by Peter, Paul, & Mary

Song year: 1963

Tab

This is another song that originally belonged to Bob Dylan and was soaked up by Peter, Paul, and Mary.

The fold group is considered the most popular one of the 1960s, explaining why they have landed on the list numerous times.

“Long Train Runnin’” by The Doobie Brothers

Song year: 1973

Tab

This hit is sure to pick up a bleak night the moment you put a pick to those strings.

Just keep the original energy The Doobie Brothers pushed out and you will be sure to gather the cooperation of friends and family.

“Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash

Song year: 1955

Tab

Speaking of prison songs, Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is an iconic choice to add to your campfire songbook.

If you are feeling frisky you can switch up the lyrics to include cities or locations familiar to your group.

“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and The Wailers

Song year: 1977

Tab

This simple song is great to lay down and improve the mood of your camping trip. Bob Marley and the Wailers did a fantastic job of constructing a pick me up.

You may not have three little birds by your doorstep to remind you everything will be alright, but you have this song.

“California Dreaming” by The Mamas and the Papas

Song year: 1966

Tab

This song has made a major comeback in recent years, and it is arranged well for your group to echo the lyrics back and forth.

The powerful rhythm pushes the night forward, and the song will haunt you for the rest of the night (in a good way).

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

Song year: 2001

Tab

The tab for this song is guitar, but Israel Kamakawiwoʻole uses a ukulele in the video.

There are many versions of this song that you can choose from, but none beat the optimistic feel of Kamakawiwo’ole’s.

“Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band

Song year: 2005

Tab

This one depends on the crowd, but “Chicken Fried” has the energy and relatability required to make a great campfire song.

It speaks to the simpler pleasures in life, things that we overlook too easily.

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Song year: 1993

Tab

The opening riff of this song is chill-inducing. If you have a friend who can throw in that rich harmonica riff then make sure to have them bring it along.

The song jams perfectly fine on its own, but there is something about that harmonica line that ties it together.

“Riptide” by Vance Joy

Song year: 2013

Tab

This might be the most modern song on the list, but it worked hard to get here. “Riptide” has all the great elements you want from a campfire song, including a strong chorus and a simple chord progression.

It plays well on a ukulele or guitar and has all the makings of some of the classics you have seen on the list. We expect it to hang around for years to come.

Top Campfire Songs For Guitar, Final Thoughts

Most campfire songs are known to be oldies-but-goodies, but you can make a campfire song out of anything that connects campers. Hopefully, this list has given you ideas, but do not let it limit you from playing what speaks to your heart as you sit by the fire.

The best campfire songs are not what is dictated by people on the internet. They are the songs that weave a web between you, your friends, and your family after a day of bonding out in nature. With the help of some easy campfire guitar tabs, you will find a rhythm that suits your group.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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