Chances are good that campfire songs predate civilization. After all, archaic humans were making campfires more than a million years before the emergence of modern humans.
Furthermore, our ancestors gained the ability to sing the same way we do more than 530,000 years ago, though that isn’t the same as actually doing so.
The idea of campfire songs being connected to kids is a much more recent phenomenon brought about by the rise of the Scout Movement in the early 20th century. Still, a century and counting are more than enough time for interested individuals to come up with lists of suitable campfire songs for kids.
Here are 20 awesome campfire songs for kids:
20. “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” – Unknown Individual
“We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” is an American folk song of uncertain origin. However, it became the source of inspiration for Michael Rosen’s picture book of the same name, which is a much-beloved classic in its own right. Amusingly, this song tells kids how foolish it would be for them to head out on their own with the intent of hunting bears.
19. “I’m Being Swallowed By a Boa Constrictor” – Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein was a very versatile American artist of the 20th century. He did a bit of everything. Examples included but weren’t limited to drawing, writing, and making music.
Moreover, he produced plenty of works aimed at adults, even though he is often remembered for his works aimed at kids. “I’m Being Swallowed By a Boa Constrictor” is another fire-side classic for kids. Fortunately, it is nowhere near as gruesome as it sounds.
18. “The Campfire Song Song” – Spongebob Squarepants
SpongeBob SquarePants has continued strong for two decades and counting. As a result, its contents have become familiar to a wide range of people with a wide range of backgrounds.
That includes “The Campfire Song Song,” which has found favor a surprising amount of favor as a campfire song in the real world.
17. “Kookaburra” – Marion Sinclair
Kookaburras are tree kingfishers. They are carnivorous for the most part. However, kookaburras have no particular preference for fish, which is true for most tree kingfishers.
These birds are most famous for being iconic representatives of Australia, though they also live in New Guinea. Marion Sinclair wrote “Kookaburra” for a Girl Guides competition in 1932, which was meant to raise money for a new camping ground. The song has been popular throughout the Anglo-sphere ever since.
16. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” – Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth
“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” might not be the most fitting campfire song. Still, it is easy to sing and enjoyable to hear. As such, it is more than deserving of a place on this list.
The funny thing is that neither the composer nor the lyricist had seen a baseball game at the time of the writing. They wouldn’t do so until decades later.
15. “Baby Shark” – Pinkfong
“Baby Shark” is one of the most recent songs on this list. Despite that, it has taken the world by storm. For extra effect, interested individuals should make sure to perform the dance moves, which were meant to be as easy to emulate as possible.
14. “Wonderwall” – Oasis
“Wonderwall” is one of the most memorable hits from the Britpop movement of the mid-1990s. Everyone thought that Liam Gallagher was singing it about his significant other at the time, so much so that he found it awkward to correct the misconception.
It wasn’t until later that he revealed it was about an imaginary friend. Regardless, “Wonderwall” has become a classic, meaning it deserves its position as much as any other song on this list.
13. “Home On the Range” – Daniel E. Kelley and Brewster M. Higley
“Home On the Range” is so old that it comes from the 19th rather than the 20th century. Brewster M. Higley wrote the original words at some point in the early 1870s.
Subsequently, one of his friends set the piece to music. Even then, one can make the argument this isn’t quite “Home On the Range” because the words are similar but not the same.
In any case, this is one of the most famous western songs ever made, so much so that it is sometimes seen as being emblematic of the American West as a whole. “Home On the Range” also has a strong connection to Kansas, seeing as how it became the latter’s state song in 1947.
12. “This Land Is Your Land” – Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” as a rebuttal to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” As the story goes, he heard the song one too many times on the radio, which irked him because he knew very well that plenty of people didn’t necessarily feel very blessed.
That can sound strange, considering the song’s lyrics aren’t what anyone would consider particularly radical. However, it is interesting to note that there were verses written but never recorded, which were much more critical of the world Guthrie saw around him. Some of the artists who have followed in his footsteps have made a point of singing these verses to keep the song’s spirit alive and well.
11. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” is yet another state song. In its case, that state would be West Virginia, which was notable because that choice made John Denver the second individual to have written two state songs. If people are feeling homesick, singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” seems like an appropriate way to voice those sentiments.
10. “Stand By Me” – Ben E. King
Ben E. King had a storied career. As a member of the Drifters, he sang “Save the Last Dance For Me,” which was a number-one hit in the United States. On his own, he sang “Stand By Me,” which broke into the Top 10 first in 1961 and then in 1986. Hundreds of artists have covered the latter. Something that speaks volumes about the impact it has had on American music.
9. “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp)” – Allan Sherman
Allan Sherman was as much a comedian as a musician. This song describes at length all of the horrible things happening at camp before finishing off with a bit explaining why camp is worthwhile.
As such, while it doesn’t see much play on the radio anymore, it remains popular because of campers and other interested individuals. The funniest part is that Sherman based the song on the letters sent by his son while the latter was attending a summer camp.
8. “Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash
Technically, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” is a love song. However, people don’t necessarily pay much attention to lyrics. As a result, “Ring of Fire” makes a surprisingly good campfire song. After all, the title describes a campfire about as well as words can.
7. “Our House” – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was a super-group that has been active on and off from the late 1960s to the mid-2010s. Graham Nash wrote it after he and Joni Mitchell returned home with a vase that the latter had purchased. As such, its source of inspiration was about as ordinary as these things get. That is no slight against the song. If anything, its simplicity is widely considered one of its strongest selling points.
6. “The Sound of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel
“The Sound of Silence” stands as one of Simon & Garfunkel’s most famous songs. That fame is well-earned. It is the song that landed the duo their record deal with Columbia Records.
Simultaneously, it is the song that caused them to disband because of its initial failure and get back together because of its remix’s subsequent rise to the top.
The latter was so successful that Columbia Records winded up labeling Simon & Garfunkel’s second studio album by its name in an attempt to continue riding on that success. Whatever the case, “The Sound of Silence” is a song well-worth singing.
5. “Edelweiss” – Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Broadway has seen rises and falls over time. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II are credited with bringing about a resurgence in the 1940s and 1950s by writing some of the most famous musicals ever penned. “Edelweiss” is a song from The Sound of Music.
Interested individuals might not have seen one of the productions. Even so, chances are good that they have seen Christopher Plummer sing it in the movie adaptation. That word choice is no coincidence because the actual singing was a dub by Bill Lee.
4. “American Pie” – Don McLean
“American Pie” is more meaningful than it might seem on initial consideration. There is a loss of innocence that can be read in its lyrics, which were very much a reflection of Don McLean’s life experiences. That said, many people are perfectly satisfied treating “American Pie” as just another fun song to sing along with.
3. “You Are My Sunshine” – Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell
Of course, “You Are My Sunshine” is one of the moving songs in popular consciousness. That is because it is about as perfect an expression of love as one can find, meaning it has seen much use for that purpose and continues to see much use for that purpose. Even now, “You Are My Sunshine” retains its power to stir the soul and move the heart, thus making it a wonderful choice for singers of any age.
2. “Lean On Me” – Bill Withers
Bill Withers grew up in a West Virginian coal town. Reputedly, he was greatly affected when he moved to Los Angeles, which lacked the strong sense of community that had marked his childhood upbringing.
In response, Withers wrote “Lean On Me” as a statement of how people can come together to overcome things they can’t handle on their own through mutual support. It became a massive hit in 1972.
The song didn’t just go to the top of Billboard’s chart for soul music. No, it also reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for three weeks.
Since then, “Lean On Me” has received acknowledgment from Rolling Stone and other publications as one of the greatest songs to emerge from its era.
Withers’s singing played an enormous part in its success. However, his songwriting also merits mention. After all, Club Nouveau was able to bring it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 a second time in 1987, thus making it one of nine songs to ever manage the feat. Suffice it to say that this serves as indisputable proof of the song’s fundamental soundness.
1. “Yellow Submarine” – The Beatles
“Yellow Submarine” stands out as one of the Beatles’ better-known songs, which is no small feat considering that band’s numerous hits. It was always meant as a song for kids.
Despite this, many people saw deeper meaning in its lyrics, not least because of the band’s involvement in the sociopolitical issues of the time. For instance, some saw it as a metaphor for drugs.
Meanwhile, others focused on its countercultural aspects, which were very much connected with the Beatles’ known opposition to the Vietnam War. Whatever the case, “Yellow Submarine” remains popular as a kids’ song.
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