I spent this weekend camping by a beautiful stream a bit north of Cle Elum--and although I was partially distracted by taking care of my dog James, who barfed about six times after eating a watermelon rind and riding over the bumpy dirt road that led to our campsite, it was a sunny and relaxing couple of days. The smell of campfire that still lingers in my hair plus this AV Club article that names some of the staff's favorite vacation music--Neil Young's Harvest, Steely Dan's Aja, the Beach Boys' Endless Summer, and Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison are among their picks--got me thinking about the best songs to sing around the old campfire, once you've all drunk all the PBR chilled in the river and someone's gotten out a guitar.
Since we're all probably over the age of 10, let's move past "Kumbaya." Our managing editor Caleb Hannan named the obvious "American Pie," since it hits the nostalgic bone and everyone in the group is guaranteed to know the lyrics. Speaking of that song, I personally like a little Buddy Holly--songs like "Everyday" and "Peggy Sue" are gentle, sweet, and easy to pick along to on the guitar. But I also can't count how many times in college my friends and I got drunk and played/shouted Third Eye Blind's "Motorcycle Drive By." Our staff writer Keegan Hamilton suggested Ben Harper's "Burn One Down." I once camped next to a group of drunken bros who played and sang along to the Kinks' "Lola" about 10 times on repeat until about three in the morning. I didn't actually mind it. And then there's Animal Collective's Campfire Songs, which are aptly named but pretty difficult to recreate with a single acoustic guitar and some tipsy singers.