Imagine you are at a campfire with your closest friends. Everyone is completing a task, from building a tent, to making a fire, or putting all of the food together.
In this scenario then, what would be your task? Easy my friend, you will be playing music that everyone can sing along to and have a great time. I have compiled a list of the easiest, well-known songs so you can get the party going. Here we go:
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The Eagles – Hotel California
Described by band member Don Henley as “our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles”, Hotel California is one of the all-time best acoustic songs in music history.
This song was recorded in 1976 and released in 1977 and is considered the Eagle’s most successful song in their career. It is in the key of Bm and a capo on the 2nd fret is used.
R.E.M – Losing My Religion
Losing My Religion is American alternative band R.E.M’s most popular song. It was written in 1991 and garnered 7 Grammy nominations for them.
According to the band’s guitarist Peter Buck, the song came about from a practice session he had to begin learning the mandolin. Losing My Religion is in the key of Am and no capo is needed.
If you are liking this list so far you probably will like my other list 35 Famous & Easy Acoustic Guitar Rock Riffs For Beginners
Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication
Californication is a song by American rock band Red Hot Chilli Peppers. It was released on their 7th studio album also named Californication and has remained one of the band’s most popular tunes.
The song talks about the dark side of Hollywood and the overall mentality of success-fame. This song is in the key of Am and no capo will be needed.
Ben E. King – Stand By Me
Stand By Me is a song written in 1961 by singer Ben E. King and songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. This song has had over 400 versions, including one by John Lennon, Florence And The Machine, and Tracy Chapman.
It is in the key of A and features one of the most popular chord progressions: I-vi-IV-V. You will need a capo on the 2nd fret.
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
This song comes out of Pink Floyd’s 9th studio album, which is also titled “Wish you Were Here”. It is one of Pink Floyd’s most known and acclaimed songs and is ideal for campfire situations.
This song is in E minor and holds one of the most studied riffs in rock music. Interesting fact, the intro riff was recorded by David Gilmore with a 12-string guitar.
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Toto – Africa
Written by David Paich and Jeff Pocaro (band members from American rock band Toto), Africa was released in 1982 in Toto’s fourth studio album Toto IV. Paich explained that the song is about a man’s love of a continent, Africa.
This song is in the key of B major and requires some hand strength to do barre chords. Nevertheless, it is a simple song to learn and a popular one as well.
Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer
Livin’ On A Prayer is a rock and roll anthem from the 80s. It is Bon Jovi’s most known composition and is their signature song.
This song was released in 1986 and became their second charted single from their third studio album Slippery When Wet. It is in the key of Em and has a modulation to Gm in the last chorus.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
“Sweet Home Alabama” is a song in the key of G and holds one of the most recognizable country-rock riffs in music history. What most people don’t know is that this song also holds a powerful message against segregation in the Southern United States.
Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant mentioned later that this song was a response to Governor George Wallace’s remarks about keeping segregation in Alabama forever.
Audioslave – Like A Stone
Lead singer Chris Cornell: “It’s a song about concentrating on the afterlife you would hope for, rather than the normal monotheistic approach: You work really hard all your life to be a good person and a moral persona and fair and generous, and then you go to hell anyway.”
Like A Stone is one of American rock band Audioslave’s greatest hits.
If you enjoy playing acoustic and wish to learn more acoustic rock songs, you can check out my post 25 Famous & Easy Acoustic Guitar Rock Songs For Beginners
Extreme – More Than Words
More Than Words is one of the most popular love songs ever written. Written by members of American rock band Extreme, it features Nuno Betancourt on guitar and Gary Cherone on vocals.
This song has very simple chords and it’s easy to learn. The only thing required if you wish to play along to the original track is to tune down your guitar a half-step (Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb)
Green Day – Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Green Day became a rock powerhouse with the release of the acclaimed album American Idiot in 2004.
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams was released as their second single but rapidly became their lead song from said album. It is the second act of a two-song arc that includes their song Holiday.
Green Day described “Holiday” as a party, and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” as the subsequent hangover. It is in the key of Fm and requires a capo on the 1st fret.
Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
Stairway To Heaven can be easily considered the most iconic song in rock and roll history and is a must in this list.
This song was written by legendary British rock band Led Zeppelin in 1971 and released on their 4th studio album Led Zeppelin IV.
It is in the key of Am and features arpeggios and strumming patterns that are great tools to develop overall work on an acoustic guitar.
The Beatles – Hey Jude
Hey Jude is another song from iconic band The Beatles which as time went by, became a sing-along anthem. The song was written by Paul McCartney and was intended to be named Hey Jules.
This song was written for Julian Lennon to help him adapt to his parents’ separation. This song is in the key of F and it’s a great song to get the people singing.
Johnny Cash – Hurt
“Hurt” is a song that was originally written in 1994 by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. With the help of producer Rick Rubin, Johnny Cash released his cover in 2002 and got him commercial and critical acclaim.
His version was one of the last songs he released before his death. Johnny Cash’s version is in E minor with some modulations from A minor and is a great song to practice picking accuracy.
Aerosmith – I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing is one of Aerosmith’s most known songs. It is a power ballad written by Diane Warren, a well-known songwriter who has worked with other artists such as Toni Braxton, Mary J.Blige, and Whitney Houston.
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing was featured in the natural disaster movie Armageddon which helped them get their first number one hit in the USA. This song is in the key of D and some modal chords will happen (such as Bb).
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
Don’t Stop Believin’ started as a chorus idea I had written down and worked out at home. The song was originally inspired by something my father would say to me during my struggles in the music business in Los Angeles.
This song was written by band member Jonathan Cain at a time where he was unsure of whether he would attain success in the music industry. This song is in the key of E and no capo will be required.
Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
One of Queen’s most light and upbeat songs in their repertoire. Crazy Little Thing Called Love is a song written by Freddy Mercury in 1979 and released in 1980 for their album The Game.
A curious fact is that Freddy Mercury played rhythm guitar on their live shows for this song, making it the first song he performed on guitar. This song is in D Mixolydian and there is no need for a capo.
U2 – With Or Without You
Released in 1987 as the third track of Irish rock band U2’s fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree, “With Or Without You” is U2’s second most frequently covered song.
It is in the key of Bm and a capo on the 7th fret is needed.
While there are no acoustic versions from the band itself, this is a very simple song to learn and a great one to add to your repertoire.
Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Hallelujah is a song written in 1984 by Leonard Cohen. This song has been covered by many artists and popularized by American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley.
Hallelujah is a very easy song to learn and it’s a song people will sing along to. It is in the key of Db and a capo on the first fret is required.
Kansas – Dust In The Wind
“Dust in the Wind” is American progressive rock band Kansas’ most popular song. This song was written by band member Kerry Livgren and released on their 1977 album Point of Know Return.
It is written in the key of C and is an excellent song to develop your fingerpicking skills that is still simple in harmonic structure.
Oasis – Wonderwall
This is arguably Oasis’s most popular song of all time. “Wonderwall” was written in 1995 by the band’s lead guitarist and main songwriter Noel Gallagher.
He describes this song as “an imaginary friend who’s gonna come and save you from yourself”. “Wonderwall” is in the key of F#m and you will require a capo to perform this song with much more ease.
Nirvana – Come As You Are
This is the acoustic version of American grunge band Nirvana’s song Come As You Are. It was performed at MTV unplugged and is one of the most popular songs they wrote.
This song is a good one to learn to do riffs on acoustic guitar, as well as strumming and is a song people will surely recognize. Tuning on this one will be different (Drop one step: D-G-C-F-A-D).
Incubus – Drive
Drive a song by American rock band Incubus. It was released in 2000 for their thirds studio album Make Yourself and is their biggest hit and breakthrough single.
According to lead singer, Brandon Boyd, “The lyric is basically about fear, about being driven all your life by it and making decisions from fear”.
This song is in the key of Em and is a great one to expand your acoustic guitar skills.
John Lennon – Imagine
Imagine can be easily considered the most well-known song that holds a powerful message about love, peace and unity. It was written in 1971 by songwriter John Lennon and it is the best-selling single of his solo career.
Lennon later said that much of the lyrical content came from his wife, Yoko Ono. This song is in the key of C and it will surely get people to sing along.
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
Written at a very turbulent time for British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, Dreams is one of their top hits.
Written by female singer Stevie Nicks as a form of expressing the impending end of her 8-year relationship with band member Lindsey Buckingham.
This song is in Am and only uses F-G in a constant loop. A very simple song to learn.
Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
The most widely placed song of the 2000-2009 decade in the UK. “Chasing Cars” is Scottish-Northern Irish band Snow patrol’s most popular song.
Lead singer Gary Lightbody said in an interview with Rolling Stone that this song “is the purest love song that I’ve ever written”. “Chasing Cars” is in the key of A and a capo in the 2nd fret will be needed.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain
Have You Ever Seen The Rain is a song written by John Fogerty, band member of American roots rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival.
It was released as a single for their album Pendulum (1970) and is their most popular song up to date. It is in the key of C and has very simple chords, making this a good song to learn quickly.
The Animals – House Of The Rising Sun
“The House of the Rising Sun” is a traditional folk song made popular by British rock band The Animals, back in 1964. The song speaks about ill times in the city of New Orleans and has become one of the most popular American folk songs.
This song is in the key of Am and uses open chords, which makes it an ideal song for beginners who wish to learn popular tunes.
The Beatles – Let It Be
“Let It Be” is one of the most known songs of all time. Written by legend Paul McCartney, this song speaks of going with the flow of life, making it a great song with a powerful message.
It is a very simple song to learn as well. It is in the key of C and uses all of the basic chords a beginner knows. This one is a top choice for campfire songs.
Bob Marley – Waiting In Vain
Waiting In Vain is one of the most known songs by Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley. This song was recorded by himself and his band The Wailers in 1977 for their most successful album, Exodus.
It is also one of Bob Marley’s most covered songs out there. “Waiting in Vain” is in the key of Ab major and a capo on the first fret is recommended.
Don McLean – American Pie
American Pie is a song by American singer-songwriter Don McLean. It was written in 1971 and speaks about the plane crash in 1959 where rock and roll icons, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper lost their lives.
The day the music died became the unofficial name for that day thanks to this song. This song is in the key of G and no capo is needed.
Radiohead – High And Dry
High And Dry is a song written by English alternative rock band Radiohead. It was released as their first single from their second album The Bends.
Interestingly enough, songwriter Thom Yorke said later on that he was pressured by the record label to release the song, as he felt the song was a very bad one.
This song is in the key of E and features open chords, which gives you interesting sounds that draw away from the basic triads played in other songs.
The Cranberries – Zombie
“Zombie” is a song by Irish alternative rock band The Cranberries. It was released in 1994 and it is a political song that speaks about “the Irish fight for independence that seems to last forever”.
It is in the key of Em and features your most basic chords. The progression is very simple as well, which will help you learn this song in no time.
Stone Temple Pilots – Interstate Love Song
Interstate Love Song is a song written by American rock band Stone Temple Pilots. It was released in 1994 for their second studio album Purple and is one of their most popular songs.
Lead singer Scott Weiland revealed the lyrics of the song talk about honesty, lack of honesty, and my relationship with heroin. Interstate Love Song is in the key of C#m and has some interesting chords that are still fairly easy to play, making this a great song to expand your harmonic knowledge.
Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind
American singer-songwriter and cultural icon Bob Dylan is very well known for the simplicity of his songs and the honesty of his lyrics. He is one of the fathers of folk music and all of his songs are great choices for anyone wishing to focus on their songwriting skills.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” was written in 1962 and released as a single on his album The Freewheelin’. It is in the key of G and a capo on the 7th fret will do the job for you.
Jason Mraz – I’m Yours
I’m Yours became an instant hit when American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz released it in 2008. It is one of the most popular songs people sing in campfire situations and it’s a fairly easy song.
It is in the key of B and a capo on the 4th fret is required. It has one of the most used progressions in pop music (I-V-vi-IV), along with some other chords to make it more interesting.
Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Glam metal band Poison was one of the top leading acts in the 80s. Known for their feel-good songs and rock and roll attitude, it came to be a surprise that their only number one hit song was a power ballad named Every Rose Has Its Thorn.
This song was written by lead singer Bret Michaels at a laundromat in Dallas right after discovering his girlfriend at the time was with another man. This song is in the key of Gb and you will need to tune down your guitar one half-step: Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb.
The Beatles – Yesterday
Yesterday is a song by British band, The Beatles. The Beatles are one of the most recognized bands of all time and have over 20 number one hits in their repertoire.
This song was written by Paul McCartney and credited to both him and John Lennon. It is in the key of F and no capo is required.
Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Follow You Into The Dark
Funnily enough, this song was their lowest-charted single to that point but as time went by, it became their most selling single of all time. This song is a simple, yet beautiful arrangement from lead singer and guitarist Ben Gibbard.
It is on the key of Am and a capo on the 5th fret will be used.
The Doors – Light My Fire
Light My Fire is a song by American rock powerhouse The Doors. It was recorded in 1966 and released a year after. This song was mostly written by guitarist Robby Krieger, along with some help from lead singer Jim Morrison.
The album version is actually 7 minutes long but due to its popularity, a radio-friendly version was made. It is in the key of G and uses some modulation.
4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?
“What’s Up?” is a song written by all-female American rock group 4 Non Blondes. This song was released in 1992 on their debut album and was featured as their second single.
The song was meant to be named “What’s Going On?”, but they decided on using a different title to avoid confusion with Marvin Gaye’s song “What’s Goin On”. This one is in the key of A and you will need a capo on the 2nd fret.
Bon Iver – Skinny Love
American indie folk band, Bon Iver is characterized by simple acoustic rhythms and haunting vocals. Skinny Love is one of their most popular songs and it is an easy one to learn.
It was the first single released from Bon Iver’s 2007 début album For Emma, Forever Ago. It is in the key of Am and uses some open chords that have an interesting sound to them. This makes the song easy yet intricate sounding.
Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
Pumped Up Kicks is the song that gave American indie pop band Foster the People worldwide recognition. This song is not short of controversy, as it talks about a school shooting from the perspective of the shooter.
This subject was gaining traction in the United States and became a catalyst for a more open conversation about the sad issue in America.
This acoustic version is in the key of Bm and a capo in the 7th fret will be required.
There are plenty of other songs that can be adapted to a simple strumming pattern with an acoustic guitar. These are the main songs I’d recommend learning, but you can always look for your favorite one and get your friends singing all night long. Keep on rockin’!
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