Songs to Sing at Your Campfire
Up to this point we have talked about campfire songs that are fun, or involve movement. In this article I would like to talk about songs to end your campfire with. When most people think of campfire songs, they think of songs that will get the group laughing and having a good time. Depending on the group, you may want to have the whole campfire singing experience to be that way. However, there are times when you might want to end in a more gentle mood. Perhaps you want to quiet things down as the kids head to their sleeping bags.
For whatever reason, here are some of the softer campfire songs to end your campfire with. The first three are basically your ballad type love songs. The fourth is a lullaby. I'm not sure what to call the last one. It is Taps, and I would consider it a lullaby also.
The Water Is Wide: This is probably the oldest song in The Great American Campfire Songbook. It dates back to the 1600s from England or Scotland. Even though it has it's roots in the British Isles, it has been a popular song in most english speaking countries. One of my favorite versions is a recording done by James Taylor. The song talks about love, in it's honeymoon stage is "handsome and fine." But as it grows older, if not tended to, can become "old, waxes cold and fades away as the morning dew." It attests to the fact that to keep love alive takes nurturing and work, but is all worth it. Here are the lyrics: The water is wide, I cannot cross o'er. And neither have I wings to fly. Give me a boat that can carry two, And both shall row, my love and I. O love is handsome and love is fine And love's a jewel when it is new But leave it alone, it grows so cold And fades away like morning dew. There is a ship, and she sails the seas. She's loaded deep, as deep can be. but not as deep as the love I'm in, I know not if I sink or swim.
Shenandoah: Shenandoah tells the story of a roving trader who is in love with the daughter of an Indian chief. Shenandoah could refer to the name of the Indian chief, or it could refer to the Shenandoah River. It is thought that in the early 1800s, the flatboatmen on the Missouri River sang this song as they went up and down the river. This is another beautiful melody that's been around for almost 200 years. Here are the lyrics: Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you Away, you rolling river. Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you, Away, I'm bound away, 'cross the wide Missouri. The white man loved an Indian maiden, away, you rolling river. With notions his canoe was laden, away, I'm bound away, 'cross the wide Missouri. Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter, away, you rolling river. For her I've crossed the stormy water, away, I'm bound away, 'cross the wide Missouri. Farewell, my dear, I'm bound to leave you, away, you rolling river. Oh, Shenandoah, I'll not deceive you, away, I'm bound away, 'cross the wide Missouri.
Red River Valley: Also known as the "Cowboy Love Song", this song, in its beginnings, had several different names. Sherman Valley, Laurel Valley, and Mohawk Valley are just a few of the names this melody went by. It is believed that the Red River Valley this song mentions is the northern Red River Valley in Manitoba, Canada. I have heard some of my uncles talk about when they left their home in Montana to move to Idaho. Just before they left, back in the late 1930s, several of their friends sang this just before they left. It can be a sad or happy song, depending on the situation.
I hope it's a happy one for you. Here are the lyrics. From this valley they say you are going We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile. For they say you are taking the sunshine That has brightened our pathway awhile. CHORUS Come and sit by my side if you love Do not hasten to bid me adieu. But remember the red river valley And the one who loves you so true. Won't you think of the valley you're leaving Oh, how lonely, how sad it will be. Oh, think of the fond heart you're breaking And the grief you are causing to me. CHORUS
Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra: This song dates back to 1914, written by James Royce Shannon. It is a classic Irish song, made popular by Bing Crosby in 1944. I first heard this song performed by Kenny Loggins on his album "Return to Pooh Corner." If this song doesn't put the kids to sleep, well, maybe the next one, Taps, will. Here are the lyrics: Too ra loo ra loo ra; too ra loo ra lai. Too ra loo ra loo ra; hush, now don't you cry. Too ra loo ra loo ra; too ra loo ra lai. Too ra loo ra loo ra; that's an Irish lullaby.
Taps: I did not realize this song had lyrics to it until just recently. This is what buglers and trumpeters play at funerals for veterans. It is also played at night, in the military, when it is time for lights out. It is also called Butterfield's Lullaby, named after Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, who wrote this bugle call in July of 1862 at Harrison's Landing, Virginia. Within a few months, both Confederate and Union forces were using the melody for "lights out." It also goes by the name, "Day is Done." This is a great closer for scouting ceremonies as the scouts are getting ready for bed. Give a try at one of your scouting jamborees, or even a family campout. Here are the lyrics: Fading light dims the sight And a star gems the sky gleaming bright. From afar drawing nigh, falls the night. Day is done, gone the sun From the hills, from the lake, from the sky All is well, safely rest; God is nigh. Then goodnight, peaceful night; Till the light of the dawn shineth bright. God is near, do not fear, Friend, goodnight.
I hope you enjoy these songs. You can find the music and the guitar chords for these songs in The Great American Campfire Songbook. Remember to have fun at your next campfire singalong interesting.