The two must-haves that make an evening around a campfire complete are marshmallows and music!
But what are the best campfire guitar songs to learn?
A guitar might not be a camping essential for everyone but there is something magic about singing around open flames under the night sky.
When it comes to picking campfire guitar songs, you have to keep it simple. Acoustic guitar songs that everybody knows the words to.
Of course, this means you might have to veer away from your preferred genre to keep things inclusive.
So be prepared to see some pretty tame suggestions.
The key is easy-to-remember words and simple melodies. But you don’t want it to be boring…
So we have assembled a list of well-known, easy-to-sing-along-with tunes for a firelit evening with friends that won’t send them off to their tents too early.
1. “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
A good place to start with a campfire singsong is Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”.
The chord progression is as old as time, so even if the words escape a few of your comrades they’ll be able to hum along with the familiar tune.
It is a versatile song, in a comfy key for most singers regardless of their experience, and what better-fitting lyrics for the occasion in the opening lines?
“When the night has come and the land is dark…”
Perfect for a night in the woods.
2. “Let It Be” by The Beatles
To be fair we could probably pick just about any Beatles song as a campfire guitar song to learn.
The infamous four are so well-known and their songs are sublimely simple.
“Yellow Submarine” would be a top choice but it can feel a little infantile.
So it depends on the company that you have!
If it is a chilled campfire experience you are after, then it doesn’t get much better than “Let It Be”.
3. “Hey Jude” by The Beatles
If “Let It Be” doesn’t suit your crowd then “Hey Jude” is another great singalong option from the Beatles repertoire.
The tune is one that practically everyone knows, Beatles fan or not, and the high notes are not unreachable.
It isn’t difficult to get to grips with as far as guitar playing is concerned.
Neither is it boring to play; with a beautiful 7sus4 glimmering in the mix.
Those first two words will be all you need to encourage the majority to join in with you!
4. “American Pie” by Don McLean
There is something so nostalgic about Don McLean’s “American Pie” that hits the hearts of fans deeply.
The song is centered around the evolution of music and simpler times of years gone by.
One caveat is that it has a lot of lyrics in the verses to try to keep up with.
But the chorus bounces in and out repetitively.
Everyone knows the words to that part!
The chords are easy peasy so it is a breeze to play.
Being so long it will fill time around a campfire with your singers getting louder each time they hit the hook!
Your audience will know their cue instinctively…“They started singing…”
5. “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
Another equally tempting track that people can’t help but sing along to is “Sweet Caroline”.
Let’s be honest your crowd will probably sing the brass section parts as well!
Neil Diamond wrote this one as a dedication to John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline Kennedy.
The rhythm is upbeat and it is a real people-pleaser with easy lyrics making it a perfect choice for a campfire guitar song to learn.
If you don’t already know it get yourself a tab and go for it!
6. “Wonderwall” by Oasis
Four nonchalant chords with an unmistakable strum pattern make this campfire guitar song suggestion instantly identifiable.
We dare your campfire buddies not to sing along with this Brit-pop staple, “Wonderwall“.
Gallagher is not known for his impressive vocal talents.
He is known for his attitude, so you don’t need to have made skills to pull this one off!
He himself loathed this one because of its popularity, but it will remain one of those songs that has a place in the hearts of many.
7. “Hotel California” by the Eagles
“Hotel California” was the track that switched the Eagles from being a country/pop group into real rock and roll contenders.
The laidback track is popular to this day for tv and movie placements its sales figures are pretty impressive!
The arpeggiated chord sequence is more interesting to play around a campfire and the intro will be all your company needs as a prompt.
The lyrics cleverly make a commentary on the hedonism of America.
Unless you have lived under a rock, you probably know most of them by heart already.
Fun Fact; This one was almost called “Mexican Reggae”!
8. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Like The Beatles, there are plenty of Bob Marley tracks that would make a good campfire guitar song.
His reggae style is perfect for creating a relaxing vibe at a get-together.
While the possibilities are plenty, we think “Three Little Birds” with its sweet melody line and lyrics that ooze positivity is a solid choice.
“Don’t worry ’bout a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright”
It is one of those campfire songs that are just about as uplifting as it gets!
9. “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas and the Papas
The best campfire songs are the ones with the memorable chorus.
There are a few choruses more memorable than this one.
Traditional campfire songs, like those we sang at scouts, have that call-and-answer element or can be sung in the round.
“California Dreamin'” has those echoing lines that make it very reminiscent of a summer camp camping song.
So even if your pals are a little rusty on the words they’ll be able to follow your lead quite literally!
10. “Aint No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
This one is a beautiful acoustic guitar song, and as miserable as the lyrical content is it is surprisingly groovy to play around with.
Your camping companions may not be able to match the silky soulful vocals of Bill Withers but they are bound to know the words to this classic.
It can get fun when you hit the repetitive “I know, I know” section as nobody (we wager not even Bill) ever seems certain of how many to sing!
11. “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is the king of acoustic campfire songs, just about everything he has ever written wouldn’t be out of place outdoors with the embers glowing.
We have chosen “Blowin’ in the Wind”.
The wordsmith can pack quite a few lyrics into some of his songs. But this one is simple.
Dylan was never much of a singer, so his melodies are simple enough that anyone can have a go free from and fear of not hitting the notes.
12. “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
Songs with non-lexical vocables are much easier to memorize.
Some of us don’t have a memory for everything but we all remember a chorus full of doo-bee-doo’s or “la-la-la’s.
Queue Van Morrisons’ 1967 hit “Brown Eyed Girl” with its delightful “sha la la la la ti da”.
It has a great rhythm and a fun chord progression and is upbeat enough to get people up on their feet around the fire even.
All the ingredients for a great sing-along campfire song to learn on guitar.
13. “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals
This one is another oldie but a goodie.
Like many of the tracks we have looked at it has been used time and again in TV and movies so everyone knows it regardless of the generational gap.
The song’s origins go way back.
It is actually a traditional folk song that is also known as the “Risin Sun Blues”.
But the most famous version, without a doubt, is the 1964 release by The Animals.
It is fun to get louder each time around as it builds with “the ruin” of the “poor soul” singing it!
14. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
If you’re hanging around a campfire then you are likely taking in the scenery so what better than a campfire song that sings about the countryside itself?
John Denver painted some wholesome imagery with the lyrics of this song as he pays tribute to the West Virginian landscape.
You would be hard pushed to find somebody who doesn’t know the chorus to “Take Me Home Country Roads” whether they are American or not!
The arpeggios are beautiful to plod through and you will have people clapping from the start.
15. “With Or Without You” by U2
This one might not be an obvious choice.
For starters, it isn’t acoustic!
But with the right group of friends, it makes a great campfire song.
You can really belt out that chorus.
The three-note phrase that jumps an octave has something about it that makes people want to sing at the top of their lungs.
Lyrically speaking it doesn’t get much simpler and it’s easy to play in a strip-backed acoustic style.
16. “Good Riddance” (Time of Your Life) by Green Day
If you want an easy-to-play campfire song then “Good Riddance” is a leftfield choice.
Green Day dominated the 90s but none of their songs are as well-known as “Good Riddance”.
It was significantly distinct from the rest of the group’s repertoire of songs.
It features a mellow acoustic guitar and lyrics that are considerably more contemplative.
It is hard to resist singing that poignant end line that gives the song its alternative title;
“I hope you have the Time Of Your Life”
17. “Riptide” by Vance Joy
There is something irresistible about “Riptide” that makes you need to sing along.
Even if it is only with those beautiful “oohs”.
The urgent rhythm that bubbles beneath the verses rings out around a campfire joyously.
The verses might be a little on the wordy side unless you were the generation that grew up when this one peaked in 2013.
It was incidentally the longest-charting (107 weeks) song in the Australian charts at the time beating Lady Gaga.
18. “Dancing in the Moonlight” by Toploader
It might not jump straight to mind as a campfire song for guitar with its iconic organ intro and electronic sounds but an acoustic arrangement will get a party started.
This 4x-Platinum hit by Toploader is a super-well-known choice.
You have the bonus that the original came out in the 1970s.
So it will be recognized by a huge demographic.
The lyrics are perfect for the situation and if you play this happy animated song right then you will have everybody “dancing in the moonlight” or campfire light at the very least!
19. “Better Together” by Jack Johnson
So this one breaks one of the campfire rules.
It has quite a few lyrics squeezed into its verses.
They are tricky to get your tongue around unless you know them well.
But they are what gives the song its appeal.
The lyrics trickle top-speed over that lulling, lilting happy downward chord progression.
The chorus is far easier, so your friends can join you with the important bits.
If you want something to play on the guitar around the campfire that isn’t boring to play then it is a top choice.
20. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Judy Garland gave us a stunning original at such a young age that we all recognize from the movie “The Wizard of Oz”.
But, for many, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version is iconic.
The beloved and humble Hawaiian musician is known as the Voice of Hawaii.
The popularity of this one sadly skyrocketed right before his death at just 38 years old.
Those beautiful breathy “oohs” in the introduction and his melody changes are great to sing along with.
It is fun to play the ukelele track on an acoustic guitar and it’s an optimistic upbeat song despite the sad circumstances surrounding the artist’s battle with his health.
Best Campfire Guitar Songs to Learn – Final Thoughts
If you learn all of the campfire guitar songs that we have shortlisted you will have a repertoire that has something for everyone.
They are songs that everyone loves to sing along to regardless of their singing abilities- be warned.
With an acoustic guitar and a fire blazing; you can turn a camping trip into a memorable night.
We have tried to keep things simple but interesting with our selection of the best campfire songs to learn and we hope you have some fun with our choices.
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