The Banjo is one of the instruments in the string family. Although it is from Africa, you can play the Banjo in any part of the world. Besides, the Banjo is an interesting instrument, and its players are special.
Are you in search of the best banjo songs of all time? Well, you’re at the right place! We’ll round up 21 Best Banjo Songs of All Time in this article. So whether you’re a beginner or an expert banjo player, we’re sure you’ll find something new and exciting to add to your playlist.
So get ready to learn some new songs and have a great time!
What Is the Easiest Song to Play on the Banjo?
The easiest song to play on the Banjo is’ Cripple Creek’. ‘Cripple Creek’ is a banjo classic with different versions. We believe that all banjo players should learn this at some point in their careers, so why not start with it?
Guess what? The writer of the original song is unknown. However, you can easily learn how to play ‘Cripple Creek.’ The video lessons on how to play the song are available on YouTube!
21 Best Banjo Songs of All Time
Here’s our roundup of the 21 best Banjo Songs of All Time:
Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell- ’Dueling Banjos’
‘Dueling Banjos’ is a worldwide hit. The ‘Dueling Banjos’ scene from the movie ‘Deliverance‘ clearly shows the difference between the Banjo and a guitar. ‘Deliverance’ made the song famous; however, it came with some controversy. The original version of this song was composed by Arthur Smith (‘Guitar Boogie’) titled ‘Feudin Banjos‘. However, the version used in the film ‘Dueling Banjos’ was written by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell.
The Osborne Brothers -‘ Rocky Top’
Although The Osborne Brothers did not write ‘Rocky Top’, they made it famous with their 1967 recording. The song has become so popular that it is one of Tennessee’s ten official state songs. Furthermore, since its first record by the brothers, the song has been covered by dozens of artists from a variety of musical genres all over the world. This song is one of the reasons why The Osborne Brothers were the first bluegrass group to perform at the White House.
Earl Scruggs -‘ Foggy Mountain Breakdown’
If this song sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re thinking of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’. This 1967 film featured ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’, especially in the car chase scenes. Many 5-string banjo players consider ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ to be one of the fastest and most rhythmically challenging pieces they can play on the instrument. So if you think you’ve got what it takes to play the Banjo like Scruggs, why not give this a try?
Buffalo Springfield -‘ Bluebird’
Stephen Stills wrote this song in 1967 while he was still a member of the band Buffalo Springfield. Charlie Chin accompanied him on Banjo and Bobby West on electric bass. The song lasts about 4:28 minutes. ‘Bluebird‘ is the fifth track on Buffalo Springfield’s album, ‘Bluegrass Springfield Again’.
Ralph Stanley -‘ Clinch Mountain Backstep’
Ralph Stanley’s most popular banjo song is ‘Clinch Mountain Backstep’. This banjo song is an example of the crooked tunes that banjo music is known for. Most people would have difficulty hearing the crooked tune in this song because it sounds so natural. However, this song is one of the best banjo songs because of the distinctive fingering and sound.
“Weird Al” Yankovic -‘ Genius in France’
This banjo song is a tribute to the legendary composer, bandleader, and multi-instrumentalist Frank Zappa. The song was approved and encouraged by Frank Zappa’s family. Frank’s son, Dweezil even plays the guitar lick at the beginning of the song. He played the same guitar that his father did in ‘I’m the Slime.’ In addition, Zappa has a habit of incorporating French words into some of his songs.
Steve “N” Seagull -‘ Thunderstruck Cover’
Thunderstruck is an original AC/DC song that’s made popular by Steve’ N’ Seagulls’ banjo version. This band modified the song with spoons, accordion, mandolin, and, of course, the Banjo. They were able to convey the hard-core attitude of the AC/DC song while doing so in a bluegrass style. Also, the music video of this song is quite amusing.
J.D Crowe -‘ Train 45′
Crowe and his band, the New South, recorded ‘Train 45′ for the album’ Bluegrass Holiday’. Crowe’s banjo playing and ability to hone performances defined and redefined what bluegrass music should be. He even has a Bluegrass Star Award, which he received in 2011. This award is for outstanding bluegrass musicians.
Don Reno -‘ Banjo Signal’
Don Reno, the “single string” style creator, wrote this classic bluegrass tune. Various artists have recreated about six versions of ‘Banjo Signal’ over the years. Reno’s original version was recorded in 1954, but the song wasn’t released until 1958. Undoubtedly, this song shows his banjo mastery.
Jim Mills -‘ The Hide Head Blues’
‘The Hide Head Blues‘ is a song by Jim Mills. It is from an album with the same name. Besides, this song will give your pinky finger a good workout if you’re just starting your first tune on the Banjo. At the same time, the tune beautifully showcases the Banjo’s beautiful range.
Punch Brothers -‘ Rye Whiskey’
If you’ve ever wondered what modern bluegrass music sounds like, this is most likely it. ‘Rye Whiskey’ is from the band’s second album, ‘Antifogmatic‘, released in 2010. The Punch Brothers are a group of five people. This band has a distinct sound that expertly blends bluegrass instrumentals and modern classical. ‘Rye Whiskey’ is nothing short of this!
Neil Young -‘ Old Man’
Neil Young’s song ‘Old Man‘ is both beautiful and moving. The song is about relationships and how they evolve as we age. It’s one of the best banjo songs to play if you want something with some emotion behind it. The use of Banjo to drive home the message of this song is beautiful. In addition, it’s a great song to learn the Banjo. So why not hone your skills with this song?
Clarence Ashley -‘ The Cuckoo’
This traditional English folk song has been covered by a variety of musicians in a variety of styles. However, Clarence Ashley, an Appalachian folk musician known for his unique banjo tuning, performed the most notable recorded version of the song. Interestingly, Ashley learned this song from his mother. Isn’t that a true mark of genuine folk music?
Bela Fleck -‘ Big Country’
Without a doubt, anyone who has ever been immersed in the world of Banjo must have come across Bela Fleck. ‘Big Country’ was released in 2007, and this catchy composition is from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones’ album ‘Left of Cool.’ Fleck plays the Banjo, and Big Country is without a doubt one of his most popular songs.
Raymond Fairchild -‘ Whoa Mule’
When it comes to banjo playing, Raymond Fairchild’s a true beast. This is one of the greatest banjo players of all time, with a long history of incredibly powerful picking. ‘Whoa Mule’ is a smash hit that has sold over two million records. In addition, ‘Whoa Mule’ has appeared in several documentaries as well as television shows.
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Earl Scruggs & Lester Flatt -‘ Creepy Creek’
Although, the writer of the original version of this song is unknown. There are many versions of this song, each with slightly different lyrics. Besides, early country musicians frequently recorded the song in the 1900s. Lester Flatt on guitar and Earl Scruggs on Banjo are two of the musicians who helped make this song popular in modern times. Surely, you can’t listen to this song without nodding your head or tapping your foot at least once.
The Doobie Brothers -‘ Listen to the Music’
‘Listen to the Music’, released in 1972, was the Doobie Brothers’ first hit, propelling them to stardom. Patrick Simmons played the banjo solo at the end of this song. In addition, the chorus of this song has been used numerous times for radio jingles, showing how popular it has become.
Led Zeppelin -‘ Gallows Pole’
‘Gallows Pole‘, released in October 1970, is based on a traditional English folk song called ‘The Maid Freed from the Gallows.’ Also, this updated version of the traditional folk song is the only Led Zeppelin song to feature a banjo, and I must say, they nailed it. Besides, Jimmy Page stated that his favorite song on the ‘Led Zeppelin III’ album is ‘Gallows Pole’.
Nelly Furtado – ’Forca’
‘Forca‘, released in June 2004, became the official anthem of the European Football Championships in Portugal that same year. This pop-folk song discusses the power one can obtain as a result of their country’s influence on one’s life. Besides, Bela Fleck’s on the Banjo and his outstanding contribution to the song.
P.S: ‘Forca‘ is a Portuguese word that means ‘strength‘.
Dock Boggs -‘ Pretty Polly’
‘Pretty Polly‘ is a murder ballad and a traditional English folk song. The song tells the story of a young woman who was lured into the forest, murdered, and buried in a shallow grave. Dock Boggs recorded ‘Pretty Polly’ in 1927, at a time when the song was just starting to gain new life as a banjo tune. Dock Boggs left a legacy as an old-time singer, songwriter, and banjo player.
The Dead South -‘ In Hell, I’ll Be in Good Company’
There’s no better way to wrap up our list of 21 Best Banjo Songs of All Time than this song. ‘In Hell, I’ll Be in Good Company’ is a song by The Dead South. The song is about a man who is on his way to Hell, but he isn’t too concerned because he will be in good company. The Dead South is a Canadian bluegrass band that’s fast-rising due to its catchy songs and energetic live performances.
What is the Most Popular Banjo Song?
The most popular banjo song is ‘Dueling Banjos’ by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell. While the song is top-notch, the movie ‘Deliverance‘ plays a vital role in its popularity. In addition, this song has other versions from different artists over the years and is still popular today.
Other popular banjo songs are ‘Forca‘ by Nelly Furtado, ‘Rocky Top‘ by The Osborne Brothers, ‘Cripple Creek‘ by Earl Scruggs & Lester Flatt, and ‘Gallows Pole’ by Led Zeppelin.
Which style of Banjo is the Easiest to Learn?
The 5-string Banjo is the easiest style of Banjo for beginners. It has a standard tuning on the open G. The notes from the 5th string to the 1st are G, D, G, B, D. Bluegrass musicians mainly use the 5-string Banjo. In the Earl Scruggs style, players look for a resonator and tone ring.
Who is the Best Player of the Banjo of All Time?
Hmm! This is quite tricky, but I’d go with Earl Scruggs if I had to choose. After all, he’s been dubbed as “the Beethoven of the banjo” on numerous occasions!
Some of his songs are ‘Foggy Mountain, Breakdown’, ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’, ‘Earl’s Breakdown’, and ‘Pearl Pearl Pearl’ among others.
What Songs can I play on the Banjo?
You can play just any song you want to. The Banjo can play a wide variety of music, including classical, blues, jazz, rock, Broadway show tunes, indie, and pop music.
However, Bluegrass and Old-Time banjo styles are the most popular.
Who is the Fastest Banjo Player?
Béla Fleck is the world’s fastest banjo player. Besides, Béla’s a multiple award-winning banjo player and is well known as one of the world’s best banjo players.
Some of Béa Fleck’s songs are ‘Vertigo’, ‘Sinister Minister’, ‘Help on the Way’, and ‘Zona Mona’.
So, what are the best banjo songs of all time? Well, you have the answer now. We hope you enjoyed our list of 21 Best Banjo Songs of All Time and that it serves as a guide when you need to choose a banjo song. Have fun listening!
If we missed anything on this list, let us know in the comments!