25 Best Songs With Banjo

Whether you’re listening to country, pop, rock, bluegrass, or folk music, you can find a good song with a great banjo part. All genres have memorable banjo riffs.

Look at our list of the best songs with banjo in them. Who knows, maybe you’ll start your own banjo-filled playlist!

“Dueling Banjos” by Eric Weissberg

Song Year: 1972

“Dueling Banjos” is, perhaps, the quintessential banjo song. It was initially composed in the early 1900s but became popular after its appearance in Deliverance (1972). This tune is one of those songs that almost everyone knows.

You can recognize this song by the opening riff alone. By the time the theme is underway, you get the sense that nothing is more banjo-centric in the whole world of music.

“Banjo” by Rascal Flatts

Song Year: 2012

If you’re wondering how to find your way to the true center of the American heartland and the homely places that make the country so appealing, consider this song your roadmap.

According to Rascal Flatts, all you have to do is take a little adventure out of the hustle of city life and drive down all the dirt paths and back roads. Once you hear the banjo ringing in your ears, you know you’ve arrived.

“Freedom Cadence” by Bruce Springsteen

Song Year: 2017

Springsteen wrote this song for a 2017 film centered around thanking veterans for their service in the United States military. The song is based on an old cadence and incorporates the banjo to deliver its powerful message.

Springsteen proves in this tune that a banjo can be patriotic as well as melodic and beautiful. There’s nothing a banjo can’t accomplish.

“The Outsiders” by Needtobreathe

Song Year: 2009

The opening banjo riff starts this song by Needtobreathe on the right foot. It sets the whole tone for the music, about people who live outside of the norms of society and strive to be different.

Opening a song about not fitting in with a delightful banjo song is fitting. All through the tune, you’re reminded of the crux of the song’s theme by the banjo in the background.

“Arkansas Farmboy” by Glen Campbell

Song Year: 2017

Farm kids come from prominent families whose parents work hard and don’t make much money. But they live happy lives together, spend their days outside, and make music together whenever possible.

Arkansas Farmboy is all about hard work, good times, and a loving family always there for you. The banjo gives it the perfect tone to make you feel like you’re on the farm.

“Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty

Song Year: 2002

Rock songs don’t always incorporate bluegrass instruments, but this early-2000s hit from Matchbox Twenty is one notable exception.

The song is about a man mourning his lost love and her perception of him now that they’re not together. He begs her to remember the way things used to be and consider a second try.

Maybe the banjo in the background will help change her mind.

“Love Is a Rose” by Linda Ronstadt

Song Year: 1975

When you’re in love, you have to be careful and gentle. You must care for the love and treat it tenderly, or you risk losing it forever. It’s as beautiful, sweet, and fragile as a flower plucked from its root.

When Linda Ronstadt brings the banjo into heartfelt tunes like this one, it’s easy to see why it has been such a popular instrument for musicians across all genres.

“Cripple Creek” by Earl Scruggs

Song Year: 1960

Cripple Creek is one of those fast-paced, knee-bouncing, thigh-slapping, good times songs that have been covered multiple times and still manage to get your feet moving.

The instrumental from 1960 features a guitar and a banjo playing in unison, harmonizing with one another and blending to make some of the best bluegrass music ever played.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver

Song Year: 1971

If you don’t listen to John Denver’s classic every time you drive into West Virginia, you need to start immediately. It is the state’s anthem, even if not officially.

No song also captures the beauty, wildness, and intrigue of the small state. The inclusion of a soft banjo playing in the background gives it an honest, country feel that makes the song the perfect homage to the mountainous land.

“Listen to the Music” by The Doobie Brothers

Song Year: 1972

The Doobie Brothers produced many immediately recognizable riffs during their time together, especially if you grew up listening to their albums.

The banjo you hear throughout this particular song communicates the carefree, relaxed, straightforward message they’re trying to deliver.

You don’t have to be serious and burdened by the world all the time. Sometimes you just need to listen to the music and let it wash over you, fix your attitude, and get your spirits up.

“Midnight Flyer” by the Eagles

Song Year: 1974

Midnight Flyer speaks through the analogy of a train traveling around the country. The man in the song considers hopping on the train to escape the heartache he’s experienced back home.

The Eagles are on this list more than once, and that’s because they liked using the banjo in their music whenever possible. They were quickly one of the most successful music groups of the 1970s, even dabbling in a relevant country sound.

“Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac

Song Year: 1975

The woman in the tune wants to be dealt with gently and cautiously. She’s been hurt before and doesn’t want that to happen again.

She wants her man to care for her the way a man should and to do all the things that make it so easy to fall in love.

The banjo in this works even though you wouldn’t necessarily expect a banjo to show up. Somehow, it makes the song what it is.

“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

Song Year: 2004

“Wagon Wheel” might be one of our day's most widely-recognized country songs. It’s been covered at least once for being such a young song, and it carries a tune that quickly gets stuck in your head.

The song epitomizes the life of a music man traveling through the wildest reaches of the American countryside. He experiences all the strange and beautiful encounters you might expect, just trying to return to his lady.

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One Comment

  1. I’m Gone – Dolly Parton
    Midnight Moonlight – Old and In the Way
    Smells Like Teen Spirit – Patti Smith
    Slow Turning – John Hiatt
    Old Man – Neil Young
    Going Down That Road Feeling Bad – Mike and Polly Johnson

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