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Best Source for Drum Play Along Songs – Around the Campfire

Technology allows us to do extraordinary things that we sometimes take for granted. For example, I’m writing this post on an iPhone while lying in a one person tent in the middle of the Icicle Creek Wilderness in Washington state USA.

I am 6 miles from the nearest car and 15 miles from cell coverage (unless I climb 3000 feet up a nearby mountain). My buddies and I rode bikes up a road and have set up our tents in a campground that is usually wall-to-wall people. But because the access road was washed out, cars can’t get through and we are the only ones here.

It is midnight, the stars are out, and my friends and I have just finished another round of what we like to call “Trading Songs Around the Campfire.” Technology has changed the game forever. With the advent of MP3 players, smartphones, and small portable speakers (like the Jambox I’m holding in the picture) that fit into backpacks, we can enjoy music in the middle of the wilderness.

Yes, I know it seems odd, even wrong, to be listening to rock-and-roll in the middle of a pristine environment. But we enjoy the solitude of the outdoors during the day: hiking, fishing and exploring. And at the end of the day, there’s something special about telling stories with friends around a campfire while listening to music.

What does this have to do with drumming? One of the best places I’ve found to get ideas for drum play along songs is around a campfire.

You see, my hiking buddies are not musicians but they love music. Music is a part of their everyday life and they have very strong opinions about what they like and don’t like. And the songs they choose for listening are real gems.

If you’re playing drums in a band that plays popular music, your best friends are your musical target audience. The songs they listen to are ones your band should consider playing or using for inspiration to write your own music.

Whenever we’re together, we always end up trading songs. If we’re hiking we use portable devices. If we’re at someone’s house, we may also use portable devices but plugged into a stereo. We’re more likely, though, to go “old school” and spin vinyl on a turntable.

So here’s how it works: One guy chooses a song from his (or someone else’s) music collection and plays it for the group. When that song is over, the next guy chooses a song and plays it…and so on through the night. We all take turns; there are no winners or losers.

It’s pretty informal; we may skip someone if they’re not ready with a tune (almost never). If we aren’t talking about politics or current events or sports, there will be a story to go along with the song choice.

What songs do we play? Here’s a set list from tonight’s time around the campfire.

Hour 1:
Highway Star by Deep Purple
Bad Motor Scooter by Montrose
Welcome to the Club by Joe Walsh
Times Like These by The Foo Fighters
Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan
The Mighty Quinn by Bob Dylan
Rock and Roll All Nite by KISS
Elected by Alice Cooper
Ballad of Dwight Fry by Alice Cooper
Stranglehold by Ted Nugent
Funk 49 by Joe Walsh
Train Kept A-Rollin by Aerosmith
Big Bottom by Spinal Tap
Hot for Teacher by Van Halen
Spoonman by Soundgarden
Spill The Wine by Eric Burden & War
Ace of Spades by Motorhead
The Jean Genie by David Bowie
My Best Friend’s Girl by The Cars
Satisfaction by Devo
I Can’t Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar

Hour 2:
At this point Scott says “I’m going to take it to a whole nother level” and plays Space Station #9 by Montrose.
Fool for the City by Foghat
Teacher by Jethro Tull
Mr. Limousine Driver by Grand Funk
Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger
Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy
White Wedding by Billy Idol
First I Look at the Purse by The J. Geils Band
Lawyers, Guns & Money by Warren Zevon
(Ain’t Nothin But a) House Party by The J. Geils Band
Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed
One Day at a Time by Joe Walsh
Space Truckin’ by Deep Purple
You Fool No One by Deep Purple
Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits
Saturday’s Alright for Fighting by Elton John
Money for Nothing by Dire Straits
Paranoid by Black Sabbath
Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin
Misty Mountain Hop by Led Zeppelin

Hour 3:
Roundabout by Yes
Strutter by KISS
Journey to the Center of Your Mind by Amboy Dukes
Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent
Going Down for the Last Time by Head East
Mama Kin by Aerosmith
Baba O’Riley by The Who
All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople
Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin
Miss You by The Rolling Stones
Against the Wind by Bob Seger
Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf
Why Can’t This Be Love by Van Halen
La Grange by ZZ Top
Cross-Eyed Mary by Jethro Tull
I Know I’m Losing You by Rod Stewart
Whenever God Shines His Light by Van Morrison

At this point the batteries ran out on our speaker system and everyone was ready to turn in. It was a special night with an awesome soundtrack.

There are stories that the guys told about each one of these songs and why the song meant so much to them. Usually the story was about something they were doing or a special time in their life when they first heard the song. Remember this when you’re choosing your song list and make your song selections with care.

Try picking any one of the songs from this list and playing along on the drums. Any of these tunes are worthy of the time to learn the drum beat and copy the fills. Most, if not all, of these songs can be played by using one of the 6 basic drum beats.