Top 10 Camp Songs

Summer is officially in full swing!

Do you want to know one of my absolute favourite things about summer-time? It’s going to the cabin, or cottage, or camp, or whatever word you use for it! And one of the best thing to do when you’re there is to play music around the campfire!

With that feeling in mind, this week I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite campfire songs, and if you’re heading out of town this weekend, you might just get inspired!

Who really knows why we love these songs the way we do, or why they have become so closely tied to the campfire?

Does it really matter?

Break out the bug spray, tune up your guitar, and let’s settle in for the 10 Best Campfire Songs!

10. Don McLean – “American Pi”

What is it about this nostalgia fueled hit about “The Day the Music Died” that creates such a wonderful sing-along atmosphere? This folk-flavoured tune has been belted out in every situation, from karaoke nights, to talent shows, and more than it’s fair share of campfire sing-alongs.

But as such a recognizable and appreciated song, why is it all the way back at number 10 on our list? It’s pretty simple actually: trying to remember all eight-and-a-half minutes of this giant-sized hit when you’re out in wild can be tricky!

9. Neil Diamond – “Sweet Caroline”

If you’re like me (or most people for that matter), you probably just unconsciously said “bah, bah, bah” as soon as you saw the words “Sweet Caroline.” This Neil Diamond staple is just as comfortable being sung around the campfire as it is being screamed at a Boston Red Socks game (where I first fell in love the “bah, bah, bahs!”). This simple tune is warm, bubbly, wonderfully gooey, and universally loved, which basically makes it a musical s’more!

What keeps this tune going around the campfire? It’s probably the big bouncey group vocals that’s fun for everyone to join in on!

8. Loggins And Messina – “Danny’s Song”

It’s a simple fact that when you’re out in the wild with a guitar, the popular choices tend more towards the adult contemporary genre (you’ll be hard pressed to find someone belting out Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” around the fire). This Loggins and Messina tune fits the bill perfectly thanks to its gentle warmth and stirring chorus.

That being said, be warned, this song has a tendency to send people looking for cell phone reception to “check in” on the outside world.

7. Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

Green Day’s 1997 hit has become a staple for a number of different life events: School dances, graduations, funerals, romantic youtube videos, and of course, campfire sing-alongs. It’s up to you if you want to try to replicated Billy-Joe Armstrong’s trademark snarl while out in the bush, but you definitely have to promise your listeners that you’ll “totally keep in touch when we all go to uni.”

6. Barenaked Ladies – “If I Had $1,000,000”

If there was ever a song written to sing with cold, camp-cooked Kraft Dinner in your mouth, it’s got to be “If I Had $1,000,000.” Of course, it’s not just the obvious KD reference that makes this a camp favourite. It’s also the super relatable lyrics, mid-song inter-play between the members of the band, and just the over-all camp style vibe that makes this song simply irresistible to out-door guitar-wielders.

Just remember, you never have to eat Kraft Dinner, but you always want more!

5. Oasis – “Wonderwall”

We’ve all heard this one around the campfire, and pretty much any outdoor space where someone is playing a guitar. This Oasis megahit about wanting to be saved has been covered over, and over, and over, etc, etc, etc, since it was released in 1995. To be honest, it’s such an outdoor guitar staple that it’s become a joke that it’s the only song many guitarist know how to play.

That being said, it is simple and catchy, which is why its been covered so many times.

I do have a hard time picturing either of the Gallagher brothers actually sitting down in the forest for the four minutes or so it takes to play the song, though.

4. Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”

With all that hairspray, Bret Michaels was probably kept far away from any open flames back in 1989 when this enormous hit was released, but that hasn’t stopped it from being played around countless campfires since then. There’s just something about the rock ballad format that plays well with the camping setting.

3. Van Morrison – “Brown Eyed Girl”

The most popular songs to sing around the campfire tend to fall into the category of “crowd pleaser.” It is, after all, hard to get people singing and dancing to an out-of-print B-side from a band only you and your Swedish pen pal know about. Few songs are as crowd pleasing as Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” especially around a campfire. It probably has something to do with singing “sha la la la la la la la la la la te da” with a bunch of tired and bug-bitten people.

2. Tom Petty – “Free Fallin’”

Even if you’ve never been to L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, you can still enjoy Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin.’” This acoustic power anthem shows up at almost as many campfires as canned beans and sleeping bags. The soaring chorus is the best part for fireside sing-alongs, although it’s also fun to see who can do the best Tom Petty drawl!

1. Ben E. King – “Stand By Me”

Coming in at #1 is the classic “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King. You and your campers may not actually have the vocal chops to do justice to this 1960 pop-soul classic, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of fireside singers over the last 50+ years, and it shouldn’t stop you either! There are all kinds of reasons for why “Stand By Me” has becomes one of the most popular camp songs of all time, but I’m going to boil its wilderness popularity down to two key aspects:

  1. It’s just an amazing song!
  2. The loving theme of friendship and togetherness is perfect for the fire!