Best campfire songs to sing a long! Is there any feeling as cozy as huddling around a bonfire with friends and family, listening to the wood crackle, and watching sparks dart into the night sky?
We don’t think so!
But eventually, you run out of shared nostalgia and ghost stories. At that point, Gary will pull out the acoustic guitar he always seems to have. Then he’ll speak the following words that send shivers up your spine faster than any urban legend.
… Anyway, here’s Wonderwall!
Nobody wants that, and Gary can’t hear your groans because he’s already way too enthusiastically strumming the opening chords. Want to avoid this party-killing scenario? You’d better have some alternatives to shout at Gary before he launches into his ten-minute freestyle guitar solo!
We’ve assembled our sixty favorite campfire sing-along songs for you to consider the next time the logs are roaring. And loved ones have gathered around. Don’t worry – Gary already knows the chords.
- Modern Classics
- 20. ”Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd.
- 19. ”With or Without You,” U2.
- 18. ”All-Star,” Smash Mouth.
- 17. ”Always on My Mind,” Elvis Presley.
- 16. ”You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morisette.
- 15. ”Under Pressure,” David Bowie/Queen.
- 14. ”Everybody Hurts,” REM.
- 13. ”Hotel California,” The Eagles.
- 12. ”Chicken Fried,” Zac Brown Band.
- 11. ”Land Down Under,” Men at Work.
- 10. ”Free Fallin’,” Tom Petty.
- 9. ”Never Gonna Give You Up,” Rick Astley.
- 8. ”Don’t Stop Believin’,” Journey.
- 7. ”Bad Moon Rising,” Creedence Clearwater Revival.
- 6. ”Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond.
- 5. ”Yellow Submarine,” The Beatles.
- 4. Anything by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Sometimes Young.
- 3. “Brown-Eyed Girl,” Van Morrison.
- 2. ”Yellow,” Coldplay.
- 1. ”American Pie,” Don McLean.
- That Old-School Classic Feel
- 20. ”The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Bob Dylan.
- 19. “Yellow Rose of Texas,” Don George.
- 18. “Freight Train,” Elizabeth Cotten.
- 17. ”Sundown,” Gordon Lightfoot.
- 16. ”House of the Rising Sun,” Georgia Turner & Bert Martin.
- 15. ”Day-O,” Harry Belafonte.
- 14. ”Little Boxes,” Malvina Reynolds.
- 13. ”Stand By Me,” Ben E. King.
- 12. “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay,” Otis Redding.
- 11. “Waterboy,” Avery Robinson.
- 10. ”Alice’s Restaurant,” Arlo Guthrie.
- 9. ”If I Had a Hammer,” Pete Seeger.
- 8. ”John Henry,” Guy Johnson.
- 7. ”Pastures of Plenty,” Woody Guthrie.
- 6. ”Scarborough Fair,” Simon & Garfunkel.
- 5. ”This Land Is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie.
- 4. ”Puff the Magic Dragon,” Peter, Paul & Mary.
- 3. ”Blue Moon of Kentucky,” Bill Monroe.
- 2. ”Take Me Home Country Roads,” John Denver.
- 1. ”Lean On Me,” Bill Withers.
- Children’s Favorites
- 20. ”You Are My Sunshine,” Jimmie Davis.
- 19. ”Coconut,” Harry Nilsson.
- 18. ”A Song That Gets On Everybody’s Nerves,” Seamus Kennedy.
- 17. “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” (Author Unknown).
- 16. Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (Camp Granada Song), Allan Sherman.
- 15. “Herman the Worm,” The Learning Station.
- 14. “On Top of Spaghetti,” Tom Glazer.
- 13. “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain,” Carl Sandburg.
- 12. ”Ging Gang Goolie,” Robert Baden-Powell (Probably).
- 11. ”Mahna Mahna,” Piero Umiliani (but popularized by The Muppets).
- 10. “There Ain’t No Bugs on Me,” Jerry Garcia.
- 9. “I Met a Bear,” Carey Morgan.
- 8. “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” Traditional.
- 7. “Ants Go Marching,” Barney & Friends.
- 6. “Boom-Chicka-Boom,” Traditional.
- 5. “The Great Big Moose,” Traditional.
- 4. Spongebob Squarepants theme song.
- 3. ”The Campfire Song Song” Spongebob Squarepants.
- 2. ”Baby Shark,” Modern Traditional.
- 1. “Kumbaya,” Marvin V. Frey.
You don’t want to get caught singing “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” when it’s time for “Mambo # 5.” Well, maybe not “Mambo # 5,” because that earworm will stick with you for a week and a half. But it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on the lyrics to these more recent campfire sing a long faves.
20. ”Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Yell out “Play ‘Free Bird’!” all you want, “Sweet Home Alabama” is the only Skynyrd tune that Gary knows. And that’s perfect. This one’s a better campfire song, anyway. Save “Free Bird” for karaoke night; that one’s more of a solo.
19. ”With or Without You,” U2.
If you lived through the Eighties, it would have taken you a couple of decades for your ears to recover from getting assaulted by this song. At every turn! But now, it makes a welcome and thoughtful addition to the party.
18. ”All-Star,” Smash Mouth.
“Somebody once told me…” that this is all it takes to get this song started. All that glitters is gold!
17. ”Always on My Mind,” Elvis Presley.
Here’s the national anthem for the United States of Regret. Whether singing in the spirit of Elvis’ original or covers by Willie Nelson or Pet Shop Boys, we all know enough of the words to join in.
16. ”You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morisette.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, as the expression goes. We feel that scorn has few better outlets than this song. Don’t know the words? Just ask anyone who’s ever gotten dumped.
15. ”Under Pressure,” David Bowie/Queen.
All Gary needs to know for this Eighties collab classic is the one riff. Wait, Gary doesn’t know that one riff? It’s only seven notes, and three of them are the same! Uch, please improvise, Gary. This one makes a great acapella tune (plus snapping, of course) for everyone: those who can hit Freddie Mercury’s highs and our friends who can pull off Bowie’s lows.
14. ”Everybody Hurts,” REM.
There’s that one guest at the edge of the campfire who’s having a rough time. Let’s give them some empathy and a chance to let it out with this super-relatable tune.
13. ”Hotel California,” The Eagles.
You can practically smell the colitas already. Wait, maybe that’s us–we’ll go downwind.
12. ”Chicken Fried,” Zac Brown Band.
Don’t you love a bit of the chicken-fried lifestyle now and then? This song includes all the standard country tropes: domestic beer, jeans, family, Murica, and a humble rural lifestyle.
11. ”Land Down Under,” Men at Work.
You might not know what it means to “chunder” (puke) or what a vegemite sandwich tastes like (salt squared). Nevertheless, you probably know the words to the chorus. That makes this an excellent sing-along. Also – our fearless leader at Outdoor Happens (seriously, she swims with sharks) lives in Oz and deserves tribute.
10. ”Free Fallin’,” Tom Petty.
She’s a good girl, and there are five things that Tom Petty says she loves. We bet that you can already name at least three of those things.
9. ”Never Gonna Give You Up,” Rick Astley.
Rick Roll the coyotes! Use an acoustic or acapella cover of the song everyone has learned while getting pranked over the last decade and a half. We all know the words!
8. ”Don’t Stop Believin’,” Journey.
Want to know how to hijack a camp sing-along in just ten words? Start singing, “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world…” in your best Steve Perry falsetto. Everybody shall automatically join in – with or without Gary’s guidance on guitar.
7. ”Bad Moon Rising,” Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The moon has just shown its shining face. Could this CCR hit be any more timely?
6. ”Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond.
Bum baa daaaaaa! You know you want to belt out the chorus on this one until they can hear you in the next county.
5. ”Yellow Submarine,” The Beatles.
What better song to build a sense of community than everyone living in cramped quarters? Bonus – singing as well as Ringo isn’t a difficult task.
4. Anything by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Sometimes Young.
You’ll never replicate their golden harmonies, but you can throw a dart at their catalog and sing along with just about anything, whether it’s “Teach Your Children,” “Judy Blue Eyes,” “Our House,” or “Southern Cross.” (Yes, we agree: “Ohio” might turn the party dark.)
3. “Brown-Eyed Girl,” Van Morrison.
The best part of this classic is performing your best impression of the Irish legend while singing.
2. ”Yellow,” Coldplay.
“Look at the stars. Look how they shine for you!” Seems pretty on the nose for a twilit evening, no?
1. ”American Pie,” Don McLean.
This song is about 73 minutes long. There aren’t many who know all the words. But get a group of people who know them, and it’s a magical, transformative experience.
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That Old-School Classic Feel
We get it. Maybe you prefer your sing-alongs to dip a little further back into history. In that case, we’ve got some recommendations for transporting you to the campfires of your misspent youth.
We all know the words to most of these beloved folk tunes. Or at least the chorus. Who needs the pressure of remembering all the words? Make up your own while you’re singing. That’s part of the fun!
20. ”The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Bob Dylan.
Did you say that Stu brought his harmonica to the party? Well, now you’ve got to sing some Dylan.
19. “Yellow Rose of Texas,” Don George.
You may have never seen a yellow rose in the wild or even been to Texas. But chances are you still love singing along to this one. It’s the peppiest song ever about lost love.
18. “Freight Train,” Elizabeth Cotten.
If “Yellow Rose of Texas” is the peppiest song about lost love, then “Freight Train” has got to be the peppiest about death. What’s more remarkable is that Elizabeth had this perspective when she was 11!
17. ”Sundown,” Gordon Lightfoot.
Anything by Canada’s musical ambassador is a win, but “Sundown” seems custom-tailored for this moment.
16. ”House of the Rising Sun,” Georgia Turner & Bert Martin.
You might recall The Animals belting out this tribute to how being a bad influence never quite works out the way we hoped. But you can trace it back to 1930s Appalachia, and the cautionary tale’s mysterious origins dip further into history.
15. ”Day-O,” Harry Belafonte.
Calypso music might be something you associate with summer, but you’ll find it lends itself just as well to spring or fall (but never winter). If someone’s got a pair of bongos in their trunk – and let’s face it, don’t we all? – You’re in business.
14. ”Little Boxes,” Malvina Reynolds.
Surely you remember this one, the opening of the show Weeds? It got covered by Elvis Costello, Regina Spektor, Tomoya Takaishi, and even Billy Bob Thornton in later seasons. Now it’s your turn!
13. ”Stand By Me,” Ben E. King.
We can’t imagine a quicker way to strengthen your bond of friendship than singing this along with your closest mates. Yes, part of that feeling is probably due to the cocktails involved. But the rest is all you.
12. “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay,” Otis Redding.
Go ahead, belt it out, Michael Bolton-style! We pass no judgments here.
11. “Waterboy,” Avery Robinson.
Can you hit the low notes like Paul Robeson? This song will put that to the test. But even if you can’t, who doesn’t love yelling out “Waaaaaterbooooy”?
10. ”Alice’s Restaurant,” Arlo Guthrie.
We’ve dogged Gary a lot throughout this article, and since there are still a lot of songs left on our list, we’re probably going to continue to do so. But there’s one thing we’ve got to say for Gary. He knows all the words to Alice’s Restaurant. He even performs a passable Arlo Guthrie impression while doing the narrative part!
9. ”If I Had a Hammer,” Pete Seeger.
A couple of words can change from one stanza to the next (at least until the end), so anyone can pick up the lyrics as they go.
8. ”John Henry,” Guy Johnson.
Hey, speaking of hammers, do you know who could swing the steel? Ol’ John Henry, one in each hand.
7. ”Pastures of Plenty,” Woody Guthrie.
This folk classic perfectly suits your campfire if your crew is composed of drifters and vagabonds.
6. ”Scarborough Fair,” Simon & Garfunkel.
Admit it! This song goes through your head every time you head to the spice rack. (It happens to us, too.) Why not season your bonfire with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme?
5. ”This Land Is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie.
This simple tune we all learned in grade school helps remind us that we’re world citizens. It works tremendously well if you’re not entirely sure on whose property you’re holding your party. (Lol.)
4. ”Puff the Magic Dragon,” Peter, Paul & Mary.
We all know what this song is all about. And that’s what keeps it off the kid’s list!
3. ”Blue Moon of Kentucky,” Bill Monroe.
Did you see the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? Did you notice how the only time that the two main characters were having a good time together was when they were singing this song? That was no mistake.
2. ”Take Me Home Country Roads,” John Denver.
Sure, John Denver may have been the king of mellow and the darling of AM Gold, but don’t forget this adventurer left our world piloting an experimental aircraft. (Seriously, Google it.) Respect.
1. ”Lean On Me,” Bill Withers.
“Lean on me when you’re not strong. And I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on.” There’s no better sing-along for falling in platonic love with your friends. And a wonderful reminder that we’re all connected.
Well – favorites might be a bit of a stretch. But the kids will likely know the words to these classics, and singing will wear them down faster.
20. ”You Are My Sunshine,” Jimmie Davis.
There’s no shame in admitting you like this one. This classic becomes sweet if Gary remembered his ukulele instead of his guitar.
19. ”Coconut,” Harry Nilsson.
Though the title and artist might sound unfamiliar, trust us, you know this song. “You put the lime in the coconut…” yeah, we thought you knew it. Though it’s not necessarily a children’s song, do you know of a child who doesn’t love it too?
18. ”A Song That Gets On Everybody’s Nerves,” Seamus Kennedy.
Not every song delivers on the title, but this one makes up for all the ones that don’t. It’s just one line – “I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves, and this is how it goes” – repeated until your patience is gone. (It takes us about five times.)
17. “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” (Author Unknown).
For a more classical dose of repetition, this one accomplishes the same effect as “A Song That Gets On Everybody’s Nerves,” but with more lyrics.
16. Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (Camp Granada Song), Allan Sherman.
Though this ditty dates back to 1963, camp counselors have kept their spirit going strong. If your kids have been to camp, they probably know the words.
15. “Herman the Worm,” The Learning Station.
The fun part of this song is that Herman’s unusual diet allows for plenty of creative improvisation and fun possibilities. Did Herman eat the porta-potty? Yup!
14. “On Top of Spaghetti,” Tom Glazer.
How many people even know the words “On Top of Old Smokey” anymore? But we sure remember the words to the satirical version. Just imagine if Weird Al did a song parody. And everyone remembered that one instead of the original!
13. “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain,” Carl Sandburg.
I’m unsure whether we learn this song or we’re all born knowing the lyrics. Either way, once you get started on this one, it’ll gain the momentum of six white horses.
12. ”Ging Gang Goolie,” Robert Baden-Powell (Probably).
Nobody’s 100% confident of the origins of this gibberish song. But since it’s such a traditional scouting tune, nobody’s earnestly fought Baden-Powell’s claims.
11. ”Mahna Mahna,” Piero Umiliani (but popularized by The Muppets).
If you like your nonsense songs slightly more current, this one’s for you. Separate from the “Mahna” solo during the bridge? It’s about the easiest sing-along we know.
10. “There Ain’t No Bugs on Me,” Jerry Garcia.
Any kid with proper hippie parents will have a well-worn copy of Garcia’s ‘93 Not for Kids Only (on vinyl, of course). And will be familiar with this flagship song.
9. “I Met a Bear,” Carey Morgan.
The call-and-response of this one makes it ideal for a crew who doesn’t know many other campfire favorites.
8. “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” Traditional.
Bears? Speak of the devil! Though Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury created a beautiful children’s book (it may even be a bedtime favorite in your home), it comes from a classic European folk song. It’s the perfect song for burning off energy since the parts get acted out, but the intense ending can get everyone wound up again.
7. “Ants Go Marching,” Barney & Friends.
Yep, the source of this children’s campfire classic is the purple dinosaur that everyone loved to hate. But don’t hold it against the poor ants. They’re just doing their job.
6. “Boom-Chicka-Boom,” Traditional.
“I said a boom-chicka-rocka-chicka-rocka-chicka-boom.” The fun of this echoing song with the simple lyrics is singing it in all the different styles (and creating your own).
5. “The Great Big Moose,” Traditional.
Another echoing song perfect for situations where few know the words to other classics. Although, everyone knows the next one.
4. Spongebob Squarepants theme song.
It doesn’t matter what age you are. Do you know who lives in a pineapple under the sea? And to make up for that one is too short!
3. ”The Campfire Song Song” Spongebob Squarepants.
If you’re going to open a can of worms with the Spongebob theme, you must keep the vibe rolling. And this one is custom-tailored for your event.
2. ”Baby Shark,” Modern Traditional.
In 2016, a South Korean company called Pinkfong released their cover of this campfire sing-along, and it still holds the YouTube record of having the most views (over 10 billion). So you can bet any kids around the campfire know this one.
1. “Kumbaya,” Marvin V. Frey.
OK, we know we said right in the title, “Kumbaya No More.” But is there a terrible time to remind kids to have compassion for others? Or adults, for that matter?
Don’t be caught short when Gary pulls out his guitar for the original karaoke – campfire sing-alongs. Brush up on the lyrics to these top 60 tunes to let the wildlife know you’re there for a good time.
Oh, and don’t forget to forward this to your friends so they may dodge Gary’s performance of Wonderwall! Let us know your campfire favorite in the comments section.
Campfire Sources and Campfire Song Inspirations
- Bryan Haines – 55 Best Campfire Songs Ever: Family Friendly Guide. Updated Jun. 9, 2022
- Joey – 55 Best Campfire Songs That Everyone Will Love. Accessed Sep. 13, 2022
- The Best Campfire Songs for Any Camping Trip. Accessed Sep. 15, 2022
- Gina Massaro – 21 Classic and Funny Campfire Songs for Any Camping Trip. Jun. 23, 2022
- NPR – Folk Alley 100 Most Essential Folk Songs. Jun. 19, 2009.