• Bryan Donoghue

30 Dark Songs for Dark Nights by the Campfire


a close-up photo of a campfire - orange flames dance above deep red coals with brown logs feeding the flames - somewhere near Booneville in the Mendocino Mountains of California. There may or may not be a beer can off to the left

Somewhere in the Mendocino Mountains, CA - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue



Searching the flames for echoes of love long lost. Searching the coals for redemption for a litany of regrets. Searching the stars above for answers to questions you’ve never had the guts to ask. Searching the bottom of the bottle for those last few drops of whiskey to help you forget. Fire breeds introspection, long pauses filled with self-reflection, and quiet inner contemplation.

There’s much to be said for the sounds of silence at the campsite - nothing to interrupt your thoughts but the crackle of the fire, the night wind rustling through the trees, the occasional critter crunching through the underbrush. There is true beauty in the sounds of nature in the pitch black of night - a quiet symphony of sounds not found in any other setting.


Late at night, very late, when all other campers have retreated to their tents and I’m sitting alone by the fire, just before putting it out for the night - whether it’s deep in the woods or on top of a mountain, on the shores of a lake or in the middle of a desert - there is nothing else in this world I would rather listen to.



There may be a small green ghost floating above a campfire surrounded by benches deep in the Chihuahuan desert in West Texas, somewhere near the Ghost Town of Lobo

Somewhere in the Chihuahuan Desert, West TX - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue



But sometimes…

Sometimes I want more. Sometimes the situation just calls for some music (To be faiiiir - with me, most situations do.) But out in the outdoors - there are certain requirements for suitable songs. They can’t be too upbeat - that doesn’t really fit the mood. They can’t be too heavy - that’s a better fit for the city streets back home. Personally, I’m not much for happy songs, so those are out too. For me, for the campsite, for the fire - give me something dark, something twangy, something moving. A little bit of slide guitar, maybe some banjo or harmonica around the edges, throw in a few boots stomping if you're lucky. Country-ish but not country. Bluesy but not blues. Folksy but not folk. Something that dwells in that gray area somewhere in between. Dark gray.

With that, here are 30 of the deepest, darkest, and absolute best (in my entirely humble and unbiased opinion) songs for camping, in regular rotation at any campfire you’ll find me at throughout the world. For those of you with Spotify, there’s a link here and a player at the bottom to add these as a playlist to your own library. For our readers who prefer YouTube, we've put together a playlist over on the Pathloom YouTube channel of all the linked videos below. Play it on shuffle, there’s no method to this madness.


A special thanks to friends and family I’ve camped with and swapped songs with throughout the years - you’re all an important part of what makes the outdoors so beautiful to me (and sorry, most of you have probably heard most of these before...)
















SPOTIFY PLAYLIST


YOUTUBE PLAYLIST

[PATHLOOM ON YOUTUBE]

*Yes I realize several of these are covers. I like these versions better. Think I'm wrong? Prove it! Got a song that would fit well on this playlist? Share it! Have a playlist of your own you like for camping? Let's hear it! Send in your playlists to blog@pathloom.com and your musical taste could be put on display in an upcoming blog post!



A hollowed out log in the middle of a campfire shoots flames out of the top, creating an inferno of amazing - somewhere in the White Mountains National Forest in Northern New Hampshire

Somewhere in the White Mountains, NH - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue



Check out these other articles by Pathloom which you may enjoy:

The Call of the Road

The Medicinal Value of Camping Alone

The Glory of Yosemite

Very Superstitious: Phoenix In The Fall

The Resilience of the Redwoods: Big Basin’s Rise from the Ashes

Leave No Trace Principles



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