Unofficial evolving MetaFilter group sing-along chord-and-lyric songbook
June 15, 2016 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Problem: You're at a campout or other casual gathering with a bunch of MeFites. Some people have guitars and maybe other instruments. People want to have an old-fashioned sing-along. Sadly, nobody knows all the words or all the chords. What are good resources that can be brought together and cherry-picked to create a printable-for-sharing evolving, unofficial, fun songbook for such an event?

Legal issues notwithstanding, this wouldn't be for sale. Looking for more of a suggestion for individual songs that MeFites have enjoyed in similar sing-alongs during their lifetimes and possible sources for lyrics with chords attached for doing simple, short printouts to bring to events for possible melodic and non-melodic enjoyment around a campfire or in a living room.
posted by hippybear to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I am fine of campfires that involve a few battered copies of Rise Up Singing, and sometimes the Taize hymnbook, and if really ambitious, Sacred Harp (although this is a capella, it sure is old fashioned).
posted by notquitemaryann at 3:53 PM on June 15, 2016 [6 favorites]

Obvious sites for me:

- (Springsteen, Bowie Joel)
- Nick Cave

And suggestions from the above: You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go; Thunder Road and Starman; This Year; and People Ain't No Good, respectively
posted by howfar at 4:19 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

The official word for what you want is Fake Book.

If you Google "easy " you might well find something that works for you.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:19 PM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

Fond. Fond of them, not fine.
posted by notquitemaryann at 4:32 PM on June 15, 2016

Rise Up Singing
posted by aniola at 4:51 PM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

I've been voted the sing-a-long organizer for a group of friends that get together once a year. I'm the only one who can play the guitar and read tabulature so that's why I was elected. I start by asking folks what they want to sing and then go search and copy the tabs (with one large caveat that many times the chords are not always over the correct words and sometimes just flat out wrong). I paste the music into a simple text document, correct any misplaced chords and then make a .pdf of it to email to participants to print out. It's pretty time consuming so you might be better off getting a songbook.

The biggest lesson I've learned is that there is a reason most sing-a-long songbooks are simple folk tunes. We all know them and they are in a key that everyone can sing. It depends on the song… Blowin' in the Wind everyone can sing; Tangled up in Blue and most are finished by the first chorus. It's good to remind fellow singers to request songs they can actually sing (although some folks enthusiasm far outweighs their abilities). You'll also want to have a capo handy to transpose those songs that are in too high a key.

I have a couple of .pdfs of songs; mostly Beatles, folk, Dead… that I made for past sing-a-longs that I'd be happy to email you, just memail me.
posted by jabo at 5:44 PM on June 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

Make sure to put lots of songs with la-la-las on your list. People might not even know the chorus of “Ripple” for example, but everybody can sing along with the la-la-la part.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:11 PM on June 15, 2016

Response by poster: Looking for more of a suggestion for individual songs that MeFites have enjoyed in similar sing-alongs during their lifetimes
posted by hippybear at 6:18 PM on June 15, 2016 (link to FAQ) is a great source for lyrics, chords, tabs and all things folk music.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:35 PM on June 15, 2016

This Grateful Dead tab archive can be as simple or complicated as you want it, but it's full of songs all diagrammed in clear detail.
posted by downtohisturtles at 6:59 PM on June 15, 2016

The chords are for ukulele but "The Incredibly Big Little Book of Scouting and Campfire Songs for Ukulele" has lyrics for ALL the songs we used to do a scout summer camp.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:04 PM on June 15, 2016

Why not make your own? Ask people to bring x number of copies of whatever song they want to sing. Then everybody gets a copy of all the songs. Over time you end up with a binder full of music. Everybody gets to sing at least one song they know and like, and everybody gets exposed to new and different music. This approach worked well at a weekly ukulele meetup I used to attend.
posted by bink at 7:06 PM on June 15, 2016

This has been asked a bunch of times before, so you might want to paw through these threads for song ideas.

What Are Some Good Guitar Songs for Camping?
Tips for Leading Singing
Sing, Sing a Song, Keep It SImple
Seeking Good Songs for a Song Circle in the Woods
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Both Jonathan Richman and The Magnetic Fields have fan sites with all of their songs transcribed for guitar. My toddler enjoys them quite a bit.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:19 PM on June 15, 2016

I have the mostly useless talent of being able to figure out absolutely anything on the guitar if I can recall how it sounds, so I have played a LOT of songs round campfires. Here are the ones which get the largest number of people singing along:

Almost anything by Fleetwood Mac, but particularly Dreams
Lets Stay Together by Al Green
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, almost too obvious to mention
More Than Words by Extreme, this one strictly for when people are drunk enough to drop their "omg so cheesy" guard

I know there are more but these are the absolute golden winners for a good singalong in my experience.
posted by greenish at 3:22 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

A few classics that always come up at reunions with my school buddies:

The Boxer (has ob1quixote's 'la-la-la' chorus!)
The Big Rock Candy Mountain
Mercedes Benz
posted by dogsbody at 12:13 PM on June 16, 2016

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