Top 10 Best Campfire Songs On Guitar

We’ve got ten of the best campfire songs on guitar to spice up your next camping trip!

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • Ten easy-to-play songs
  • An introduction to barre chords like Bm
  • How to play Neil Young’s “Boom-Chuck” strumming pattern
  • How to use a capo to switch to any key you want!

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The Best Campfire Songs On Guitar Are Easy To Play!

One of the best parts of life is sitting around a campfire and singing songs with friends.

Whether it’s around a fire or in a club, music can bring people together in magical ways.

With social media being such a dominant factor in our lives, it’s important to unplug every once in a while and gather some friends for an old-fashioned singalong.

Today we’re going to teach you some of the best songs to sing around an open flame with friends who enjoy music as much as you do.

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

To get you started on your singalong repertoire, we’ve assembled our top 10 campfire songs on guitar for you to practice.

  • We all have personalized playlists, and even the radio has splintered into different genres for different tastes, so it can be tricky to find songs that absolutely everybody knows.
  • In this list, we’ve combined the old and familiar with some songs that are pretty easy to pick up, in case not everyone knows them.

Let’s get you out there sharing your love for music with everyone!

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 1: Neil Young – “Heart Of Gold”

Grab your harmonica-playing friend, or pick yourself up a G harmonica, and fire up this singalong classic!

Heart of Gold is the big hit from Neil Young’s 1972 album Harvest, a great and weird album that taught a whole generation to love entire great and weird albums.

  • This song has everything you need to kick off your set of the best campfire songs on guitar.
  • There’s an easy riff, a small handful of chords, simple lyrics, and a nice melody everyone can sing.
  • “Heart of Gold” has three parts: the intro, the verse chords, and the refrain chords.

Here are all the chords you’ll need:

Em7 (022030)

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

D (xx0232)

Em (022000)

C (x32010)

G (320003)

The intro contains the riff, displayed below.

You can hammer-on the second note to give yourself a bit more of a workout in the fret hand.

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

The intro riff leads right into the chords.

Em7  |D Em|

For this section, you strum it like you sing it (bold = downstroke):

Keeps me searching for a heart of gold.”

Switch to the Em chord when you say the word “gold.”

The bold words above represent downstrokes.

The verse chords, as well as the chords under the harmonica breaks, happen like this, three times apiece.

|Em C|D G|

One nice way to strum the verse chords is with Neil Young’s “boom boom chuck” technique.

For each chord, pick only the root of the chord twice and then strum the chord once.

And the refrain chords, “Keep me searching for a heart of gold, and I’m gettin’ old,” go like this.

Em G C |C G|

If you’d like to refer to a chord and lyric chart, you can find one here.

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 2: Traditional – “You Are My Sunshine”

“You Are My Sunshine” was allegedly written by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell, but the true nature of the song is very murky.

This tune was popularized in the American South in the mid-1940s.

Davis glued his name to it because he sang it all the time while riding a horse named Sunshine during his campaign to be governor of Louisiana.

Here are Johnny and June Carter-Cash singing “You Are My Sunshine.”

  • This song contains only the I, IV, and V chords.
  • To find these chords, pick your I chord and travel up the musical alphabet until you get to IV and V.
  • To learn more about how to find these chords, dive into a major scale lesson with us here

Let’s try this tune in the key of D major.

D (xx0232)

G (320003)

A (x02220)

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

The chord progression for “You Are My Sunshine” is nice and simple, making it one of the best campfire songs on guitar. You won’t need any help remembering it!

The chords are the same over the chorus and the verse, as is the melody.

Here’s the chord progression for “You Are My Sunshine.”

D D G D

G D |D A| D

If you’re bringing a book to the campfire, check out a chord and lyric chart for this tune here.

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

Pro-Tip: Don’t forget to bring your capo with you wherever you go. A capo can save you from having to sing a song in a key that is no good for your vocal range.

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 3: Old Crow Medicine Show – “Wagon Wheel”

Of all the best campfire songs on guitar, “Wagon Wheel” definitely took the longest to write.

  • Bob Dylan wrote the chorus to this song and recorded it for the soundtrack to Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973).
  • Ketch Secor of OId Crow Medicine Show wrote the verses only 25 years later.
  • You can watch them play the entire version of the song here.

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

This is a two-line cycle song. The progression doesn’t change for the verse or the chorus. We suppose if Dylan wrote the progression, you might as well leave it alone!

Here are the chords you need to play “Wagon Wheel,” in the order of their appearance.

G (320003)

D (xx0232)

Em (022000)

C (x32010)

The progression goes like this.

G D Em C

G D C C

If you like, here’s the chord and lyric chart for “Wagon Wheel.”

There’s a suggested strumming rhythm on the chart, but any moderately paced swinging rhythm will work.

This tune makes our list of the best campfire songs on guitar because no matter where you play it, someone will know the words.

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 4: Tom Petty – “Free Fallin’”

Some of the best songs are the ones where everyone knows the words, at least to the chorus.

You can’t go wrong playing “Free Fallin’” with a group of people, as the chorus is easy and extremely singable.

This 1989 hit from Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever was co-written with fellow Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne, who also produced the album.

Here are the chords:

D (xx0232)

Dsus4 (xx0233)

Asus2 (x02230)

Try to match the rhythm of the recording, and play the chords above in this order:

|D Dsus4|Dsus4 D Asus2|

The recording is in the key of F, but Petty used these three chords and a capo on the third fret.

Practice matching the rhythm of the recording – you can hear it best in the intro.

The best campfire songs on guitar are ones where everyone can sing along, and this tune is definitely one of them!

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 5: Crosby, Stills, & Nash – “Teach Your Children”

Now, let’s see how well your friends can harmonize!

This is not only an easy and straightforward tune, but it’s one of the most fun when you have friends who really love to sing (and know how to).

“Teach Your Children” was written by Graham Nash, but it didn’t get recorded until he teamed up with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. This tune lives on their 1970 album, Déja Vu.

Here are the chords you’ll need:

D (xx0232)

G (320003)

A (x02220)

Bm (x24432)

or (xx4432)

The progression most of the way through the song goes like this:

D G D A

When you get to the word “sigh,” wrap it up like this:

Bm |G A|

From there, you’re back to the regular pattern.

This song works really well with a boom-chuck alternating bass strum.

Here’s a chord and lyric chart for “Teach Your Children.”

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 6: Otis Redding – “Dock Of The Bay”

Everybody loves singing this timeless hit. The middle section is especially fun, as it lets us cut loose with the vocals a little bit.

“Dock of the Bay” was written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper.

Redding recorded this song a couple of times, once right before his death. Cropper had taken Redding’s first verse and fleshed it out with details about Redding’s life.

Here are the chords you need for “Dock of the Bay.”

G (320003)

B7 (x21202)

C (x32010)

A (x02220)

D (xx0232)

F (xx3211)

 

You can even begin the song with the subtle little bass line. Here’s how to play it on guitar.

best-campfire-songs-on-guitar

easy-campfire-guitar-songs

The verse chords go like this.

G B7 C A

G B7 C A

G E G E

G A G E

Then there’s the bridge, the part of the song that makes this one of the best campfire songs on guitar!

Here’s the chord progression:

|G D| C |G D| C

|G D|C G| F  D

Take one section at a time to learn the song. Here’s a chord and lyric chart for “Dock of the Bay.” Don’t forget to whistle at the end!

best-guitar-campfire-songs

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 7: Stephen Foster – “Oh, Susannah”

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! This song works well because many people know it, the lyrics are ridiculous, and it’s easy to play.

Here’s “Oh, Susannah,” written somewhere around 1847 by Stephen Foster. This song’s popularity led Foster to be the first professional songwriter in the US.

You can play it in the key of A with these chords:

A (x02220)

E (022100)

D (xx0232)

The progression for the verse goes like this:

A A A E

A A |A E| A

This is the chorus progression, and here’s a chord and lyric chart for “Oh Susannah.”

D D A E

A A |A E| A

If you like your songs to be sadder and more complicated, here’s James Taylor’s version.

fun-campfire-guitar-songs

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 8: Paul McCartney – “Hey Jude”

Of course, your collection of the best campfire songs on guitar wouldn’t be complete without at least one Beatles song. Many campfires have burned into the night powered only by Beatles songs!

This song really needs no introduction.

It does take some explaining, however because there are three parts that need memorizing.

We’re going to play it in the key of D, although the original is in F. You can use these chords with a capo on the third fret.

D (xx0232)

A (x02220)

A7 (x02020)

G (320003)

Bm (xx4432)

C (x32010)

The A part is the easy part. Here is the chord progression:

D A A7 D

G D A7 D

The B part, “Any time you feel the pain,” goes like this:

|G Bm| Em G|  A7 D

Finally, the last section:

D C G D

Here’s a complete chord and lyric chart in D for “Hey Jude.”

best-songs-to-play-at-a-campfire

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 9: Kenny Loggins – “Danny’s Song”

A list of the best campfire songs on guitar is going to include some uptempo songs and some beautiful, mellow gold.

In the second category is “Danny’s Song,” a song circle favorite from Loggins & Messina’s 1971 album Sittin’ In. Anne Murray also had a hit with this song.

Kenny Loggins had a great history of hits through the years. You can check out a list of some of his best work over at Songfacts.

Here are the chords you’ll need:

D (xx0232)

C (x32010)

Bm (x24432)

 

or (xx4432)

E7 (02010)

A (x02220)

Best-Campfire-Songs-On-Guitar

The verse goes through the following chord progression twice:

D C Bm Bm

E7 E7 A A

The chorus has this progression:

G A D Bm

G A D Bm

G A D C

Bm E7 A A

It’s important to take your time when learning songs that use barre chords, as they take a bit of time to wrap your hands around. Remember to practice slow – speed comes later!

Check out this chord and lyric chart for “Danny’s Song.”

Pro Tip: This song is downright magical when played in a fingerstyle fashion, so give it a shot without a pick! Apply one finger to each string to start with in the picking hand, and practice playing arpeggios of the chords above..

For more on fingerstyle patterns, check out this lesson: Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons: 5 Easy Ways to Sound Amazing.

campfire-songs-guitar

Best Campfire Songs On Guitar 10: Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”

Here’s a power ballad everyone knows, and it’s one of the best campfire songs on guitar just because it is so easy and fun to play!

“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” is a straight-up hair band power ballad, and here are all the chords you’ll need:

G (32033)

Best-Campfire-Songs-On-Guitar

Cadd9 (x32013)

D (xx0232)

Best-Campfire-Songs-On-Guitar

Em (022000)

Best-Campfire-Songs-On-Guitar

Here are the verse chords:

G Cadd9 G Cadd9

|G Cadd9|G Cadd9|  D C

The chorus:

G Cadd9 G Cadd9

|G D|C G|  G Cadd9

The bridge:

|Em D|C G|Em D| C

Check out the chord and lyric chart here, with some good strumming suggestions.

guitar-party-songs

Find Your Favorite Songs To Share!

Use our list of the best campfire songs on guitar as a jumping-off point to discover your favorites to play and share with others.

We have plenty of free lessons on this site that include song tutorials, and you can check ultimate-guitar.com for chords and lyrics. Not all chord charts are created equal, so make sure you play through your charts before bringing them out!

Check out some of our other favorite lessons below:

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