Summer’s coming, and a good number of my students are headed off to camp, where with any luck they will stay up past bed-time, ride horses, catch fireflies, make friendship bracelets, weave lanyards, cook burnt inedible marshmallows, and sing around a campfire. Maybe some of them will return wanting to learn to play guitar. (Music doesn’t have to be a spectator sport, you know.)
When my students tell me they are going to camp, I find myself asking them about what they are looking forward to. If their parents went to camp, we end up reminiscing, and it doesn’t matter what camp they went to, we all know the same songs. It brings back that incomparable feeling that all it takes for things to be right in the world are a couple of guitars and the high-pitched voices of children.
I lost my camp-era book of songs and guitar chords many moons and moves ago. Here’s a list of songs, although its brevity shows that I’ve gotten to that point where I’m forgetting more than I’m remembering. So please add to it in the “comments” section below.
Today (Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine…)
Blowing in the Wind (How many roads….)
Coral Bells (White coral bells upon a slender stalk…)
Circle Game (Yesterday a child came out….)
Dona Dona (On a wagon, bound for market…)
Where Have all the Flowers Gone (…long time passing….)
Leaving on A Jet Plane (Don’t know when I’ll be back again)
Let it Be (When I find myself in times of trouble…)
500 Miles (Lord I’m one, lord I’m two …etc.)
Day is Done (Tell me why you’re crying, my son)
It’s sad, I think, that there are so few opportunities today where people just get together and sing songs we all know. (Although to be be fair not everyone has the same sentimental attachments: One of my brothers-in-law thinks that the list above is about the most depressing thing he’s ever heard, and he is devoutly hoping that his kids don’t come home with my generation’s repertoire of mournful protest songs, not to mention Dona Dona, which, he points out, is about a dying cow. Chacon son gout.).
But summer nights with guitars and fireflies change things up, make these songs soft and pretty and peaceful. And the very best news: Most of these songs can be played with no more than three or four chords!
I’ll betcha you’ve got some tunes running through your head now, right? Be warned: No promises, but if I can make my mind go in that direction, the next installment is the goofy list: You know: songs like “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” (however it’s spelled…) Don’t say I didn’t warn you…