Seeking good songs for a song circle in the woods
June 18, 2012 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Seeking song reccommendations for a song circle/singalong in the woods. I want songs that are simple to teach, fun to sing, sound good, and don't make you feel like a 10-year-old at summer camp. Drinking songs, sea shanties, rounds, folk songs, etc.

We may or may not have a guitar at our disposal. I'll be learning the tunes ahead of time and bringing a crib sheet of lyrics and maybe some chords. Songs with a high chorus-to-verse ratio would be best.

I've found some good resources/lists of rounds and sea shanties from past AskMes, but I'd like specific recommendations if you've got any. What songs of this type do you love to sing your heart out to?
posted by rivenwanderer to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Doug Anthony All-Stars' "Broad Lic Nic"
posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: The Newfoundland folk song Lukey's Boat, covered/made famous by the band Great Big Sea, is insanely catchy. Similarly, the songs I find myself singing over and over after listening to Springsteen's "Seegar Sessions" album are "Old Dan Tucker," "Mary Don't You Weep No More", "Pay Me My Money Down" and "Erie Canal".

....If you really wanna get away from the "kid at summer camp" thing, track down as full a list of verses as you can for an 18th Century bawdy song called "My Thing Is My Own." On the face of it, it's a song from the point of view of a sweet maiden who wants to stay a virgin until she's married -- but the lyrics then proceed to use some fantastically delicious double entendres as she proceeds to talk about all the different times she's had to thus defend her honor:
A cunning clockmaker did court me as well,
And promised me riches if I'd ring his bell.
So I looked at his clockwork, and said with a shock,
"Your pendulum's far too small for my clock."
The chorus is easy to remember and sing, and the fun will come from everyone listening to a soloist doing all the double-entendre stuff. (we used it in a show we did once, with the cast doing it live during intermission, and on one night this woman in the audience laughed and laughed at each new double entendre.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:03 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Titanic, although I admit I did learn it at summer camp. But the humor is dark enough for adults.
posted by Surprised By Bees at 10:37 AM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: Oh the Wind and Rain (folk / ballad) is lovely and it's easy for the group to join in on the very frequently repeated chorus.
posted by kitcat at 10:43 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Find yourself a copy of Rise Up Singing. It was made for occasions like the one you describe. Songs run the gamut from kiddie stuff to Simon and Garfunkel to Broadway and everything in between.
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:59 AM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

What Can You Do With a Drunken Sailor!

Many other sea chanties and sea-chanty-inspired songs would, especially Stan Roger's work.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:04 AM on June 18, 2012

Bob Dylan! No, seriously--I learned a bunch of Bob Dylan as a kid without even knowing it by singing things like Blowin in the Wind, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, etc. at Girl Scout Camp.
posted by smirkette at 11:06 AM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: Sea shanty: Barrett's Privateers (can be done totally acappella like this version), lots of bits that repeat.

General Taylor - Great Big Sea

(you really can't go wrong with Canadian Maritime folk)

American Pie - Don McClean

Depending on the age of the crowd, you could have a lot of fun singing some rock/pop songs from the group's prime. For example, having been a teenager in the 90's, I could get a group of my friends singing Counting Crows (Mr. Jones specifically), Soul Asylum, Goo Goo Dolls, and the like with no effort at all. In fact I have done and it was a blast.
posted by dry white toast at 11:08 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shanties? I'll give you shanties.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:45 AM on June 18, 2012

The Smithsonian has reclased under their Folkways label a wonder collection of sea shantys.
posted by TaconibsPHD at 11:59 AM on June 18, 2012

Would suggest getting copies of Rise Up Singing.
posted by Tufa at 12:55 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rolling Stones - Sweet Virginia

I love singing that one round the campfire with my friends, usually repeatedly with some amount of slurring as the night continues. It is surely only a matter of time until my wife brains me over the head with a pan or other heavy object.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:39 PM on June 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the recs so far, keep them coming! As a reminder, I'm looking for *specific* song recommendations :) (I'll do some combing through RUS/online shanty lists too, but I'm interested in what the hive mind sings!)
posted by rivenwanderer at 4:00 PM on June 18, 2012

I'm a big fan of Nick Cave's Murder Ballads. Definitely not summer camp material, but easy to learn quickly and sing along to. (I learned this driving to a family event last Christmas morning.)
posted by chatongriffes at 5:14 PM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: Because now I can link to the videos and I want to because they're awesome:

Lukey's Boat, Great Big Sea (with the Chieftains sitting in this time)
Pay Me My Money Down, Mary Don't You Weep, Old Dan Tucker, and Erie Canal all from Bruce Springsteen and company

....And believe it or not, Heart did a cover of My Thing Is My Own.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:59 PM on June 18, 2012

I's the B'y? (video with lyrics, Great Big Sea again)
posted by kmennie at 6:18 PM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: Sometimes I need to encourage singalongs. I think the key is to use songs that are at least vaguely familiar even if folks don't "know" them. Examples (for a US-/UK- Canadian-based group of people) would include:

Cockles and Mussels
The Wild Rover (I Never Will Play the Wild Rover)
An Irish Lullaby/TooRaLooRaLooRa
Amazing Grace
I've Been Working on the Railroad
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Wild Mountain Thyme
Goodnight, Irene (has to be the closing number)

I can go on, but you get the idea.

(As an FYI, we do Lukey's Boat from time to time, and I love it, but it's kind of a hard song to sing -- gotta hit the "ha"s too hard. I'se the By is much easier, but I'd find a very traditional version to learn it from.)
posted by heigh-hothederryo at 6:49 PM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: If you feel like actually *teaching* songs, two easy shanties -

Haul Away Joe is pretty good and pretty funny. It's best if everyone does the chorus and folks take turns with the verses.

We'll Pay Paddy Doyle for His Boots. Everyone does the "TimmeeeWayAYAYeeeeAyyyyYAH!" And then takes turns with the verses.

Oh! And Gypsy Rover! So old everyone kind of "knows" it.
posted by heigh-hothederryo at 6:53 PM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: You need Rattlin' Bog.

Also, the Beatles' Why Don't We Do It in the Road? is pretty great -- only two lines!
posted by pised at 7:25 PM on June 18, 2012

Up at our camp, the younger folk get a lot of mileage out of The Decemberists "The Mariner's Revenge Song"! Modern sea shanty ahoy! Although memorizing all of the lyrics are quite a task for the lead performer/guitarist, the fun of it makes it totally worth the while.

(Also John Prine. The answer to "What should I sing at camp?" is always, at least a little bit, John Prine.)
posted by troublewithwolves at 8:45 PM on June 18, 2012

See also this thread.
posted by Iridic at 12:05 PM on June 19, 2012

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