Songs With Banjo

Whether you’re listening to country, pop, rock, bluegrass, or folk music, you can find a good song with a great banjo part. All genres have memorable banjo riffs.

Look at our list of the best songs with banjo in them. Who knows, maybe you’ll start your own banjo-filled playlist!

“Dueling Banjos” by Eric Weissberg

Song Year: 1972

“Dueling Banjos” is, perhaps, the quintessential banjo song. It was initially composed in the early 1900s but became popular after its appearance in Deliverance (1972). This tune is one of those songs that almost everyone knows.

You can recognize this song by the opening riff alone. By the time the theme is underway, you get the sense that nothing is more banjo-centric in the whole world of music.

“Banjo” by Rascal Flatts

Song Year: 2012

If you’re wondering how to find your way to the true center of the American heartland and the homely places that make the country so appealing, consider this song your roadmap.

According to Rascal Flatts, all you have to do is take a little adventure out of the hustle of city life and drive down all the dirt paths and back roads. Once you hear the banjo ringing in your ears, you know you’ve arrived.

“Freedom Cadence” by Bruce Springsteen

Song Year: 2017

Springsteen wrote this song for a 2017 film centered around thanking veterans for their service in the United States military. The song is based on an old cadence and incorporates the banjo to deliver its powerful message.

Springsteen proves in this tune that a banjo can be patriotic as well as melodic and beautiful. There’s nothing a banjo can’t accomplish.

“The Outsiders” by Needtobreathe

Song Year: 2009

The opening banjo riff starts this song by Needtobreathe on the right foot. It sets the whole tone for the music, about people who live outside of the norms of society and strive to be different.

Opening a song about not fitting in with a delightful banjo song is fitting. All through the tune, you’re reminded of the crux of the song’s theme by the banjo in the background.

“Arkansas Farmboy” by Glen Campbell

Song Year: 2017

Farm kids come from prominent families whose parents work hard and don’t make much money. But they live happy lives together, spend their days outside, and make music together whenever possible.

Arkansas Farmboy is all about hard work, good times, and a loving family always there for you. The banjo gives it the perfect tone to make you feel like you’re on the farm.

“Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty

Song Year: 2002

Rock songs don’t always incorporate bluegrass instruments, but this early-2000s hit from Matchbox Twenty is one notable exception.

The song is about a man mourning his lost love and her perception of him now that they’re not together. He begs her to remember the way things used to be and consider a second try.

Maybe the banjo in the background will help change her mind.

“Love Is a Rose” by Linda Ronstadt

Song Year: 1975

When you’re in love, you have to be careful and gentle. You must care for the love and treat it tenderly, or you risk losing it forever. It’s as beautiful, sweet, and fragile as a flower plucked from its root.

When Linda Ronstadt brings the banjo into heartfelt tunes like this one, it’s easy to see why it has been such a popular instrument for musicians across all genres.

“Cripple Creek” by Earl Scruggs

Song Year: 1960

Cripple Creek is one of those fast-paced, knee-bouncing, thigh-slapping, good times songs that have been covered multiple times and still manage to get your feet moving.

The instrumental from 1960 features a guitar and a banjo playing in unison, harmonizing with one another and blending to make some of the best bluegrass music ever played.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver

Song Year: 1971

If you don’t listen to John Denver’s classic every time you drive into West Virginia, you need to start immediately. It is the state’s anthem, even if not officially.

No song also captures the beauty, wildness, and intrigue of the small state. The inclusion of a soft banjo playing in the background gives it an honest, country feel that makes the song the perfect homage to the mountainous land.

“Listen to the Music” by The Doobie Brothers

Song Year: 1972

The Doobie Brothers produced many immediately recognizable riffs during their time together, especially if you grew up listening to their albums.

The banjo you hear throughout this particular song communicates the carefree, relaxed, straightforward message they’re trying to deliver.

You don’t have to be serious and burdened by the world all the time. Sometimes you just need to listen to the music and let it wash over you, fix your attitude, and get your spirits up.

“Midnight Flyer” by the Eagles

Song Year: 1974

Midnight Flyer speaks through the analogy of a train traveling around the country. The man in the song considers hopping on the train to escape the heartache he’s experienced back home.

The Eagles are on this list more than once, and that’s because they liked using the banjo in their music whenever possible. They were quickly one of the most successful music groups of the 1970s, even dabbling in a relevant country sound.

“Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac

Song Year: 1975

The woman in the tune wants to be dealt with gently and cautiously. She’s been hurt before and doesn’t want that to happen again.

She wants her man to care for her the way a man should and to do all the things that make it so easy to fall in love.

The banjo in this works even though you wouldn’t necessarily expect a banjo to show up. Somehow, it makes the song what it is.

“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

Song Year: 2004

“Wagon Wheel” might be one of our day’s most widely-recognized country songs. It’s been covered at least once for being such a young song, and it carries a tune that quickly gets stuck in your head.

The song epitomizes the life of a music man traveling through the wildest reaches of the American countryside. He experiences all the strange and beautiful encounters you might expect, just trying to return to his lady.

“Daddy Played the Banjo” by Steve Martin

“Daddy Played the Banjo” by Steve Martin

Song Year: 2014

Steve Martin is known for his comedy, movies, and incredible banjo skills. When he combined two of those things, he quickly earned his place as a reputable bluegrass singer with a great sense of humor.

In this song, Steve Martin plays a five-string banjo as he reminisces about his father playing the banjo. He tells the story, probably fictional, against the backdrop of excellent banjo picking.

“Forgetful Heart” by Bob Dylan

Song Year: 2009

Bob Dylan has been writing music for over half a century. Considering how popular he still is despite multiple new generations coming into existence, that’s more than impressive: that’s amazing.

He likes to pair his tunes to the banjo, and this is one of the best examples of that. It’s a genuinely poetic song that seems to paint the picture of someone lamenting the aging of a lover.

With time comes the loss of certain faculties, and Dylan captures that with heartwrenching clarity in this banjo-filled tune.

“Black Bear Road” by C.W. McCall

Song Year: 1975

C.W. McCall excelled at folk songs that told little pieces of American history. “Black Bear Road” is one of those songs that takes you back to the earliest days of the country’s settlement and makes you feel right there in the wilderness.

The children in this song explore the genuine “Black Bear Road” while camping in the mountains. The song is an epic adventure that makes you wish you were there.

“Squeezebox” by The Who

Song Year: 1975

The squeezebox might not be a banjo, but the banjo certainly helps deliver the potency of this particular song: whatever that squeezebox is, it’s keeping the whole neighborhood up with its racket and piercing sounds.

Adding the banjo in the Who’s song helps communicate something unique and exciting. It also brings the other instruments together in a way that no other tool probably could.

“Bluebird” by Buffalo Springfield

Song Year: 1967

The bluebird might not sound like a banjo, but the banjo sure makes this song about birds a little more captivating.

The song is about an observer being captivated by a bluebird that seems to visit them every day.

It’s probably not an actual bluebird, as most songs of this nature like using analogies and illusions. Either way, the sadness in this song comes through loud and clear with that moaning banjo.

“Gallows Pole” by Led Zeppelin

Song Year: 1970

The sounds from Led Zeppelin are some of the wildest and wackiest in music history. They revolutionized a lot of western music in the 1970s and occasionally incorporated the banjo to help.

“Gallows Pole” is a highly recognizable song, and that’s probably because of the banjo. It brings an ineffable quality that’s essential when singing about hangmen and the gallows pole.

“Take It Easy” by the Eagles

Song Year: 1972

“Take It Easy” is the second song from the Eagles to appear on this list, and it’s possibly one of the best-known Eagles songs ever released.

The banjo contributes a lot of the personality to this song about a man driving around, thinking about all the different women in his life.

“I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons

Song Year: 2012

“I Will Wait” is all about how hard it is to maintain good, healthy relationships when your life is already busy and chaotic. The sound of the banjo presents a nice mental image of the craziness.

Mumford and Sons incorporated the banjo into a lot of their songs. Part of what made them such a successful folk-like band was the reliable presence of the banjo.

This particular song features the banjo heavily, making it one of the staple sounds that makes the music so recognizable.

“Mayberry” by Rascal Flatts

Song Year: 2002

Rascal Flatts excels at writing songs that transport you to a place and time that’s simpler, slower, and more relaxed. They sing about the country and small-town life whenever they can, bringing the banjo in to help deliver the message.

In a constantly moving world and getting more fast-paced, sometimes it’s nice to imagine a life that’s a little more like Mayberry.

“Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard

Song Year: 1968

Merle Haggard used the banjo a lot in his music. Part of his recognizable sound was the folksy plucking of the banjo behind all his lyrics.

“Mama Tried” uses the banjo to make this otherwise sad song more upbeat. The song finds a man lamenting the life he’s led and feeling sorry for how hard his mother worked to keep him on the straight and narrow.

But when you hear the banjo in the background, you can’t help but start bouncing your knee and clapping your hands.

“Rye Whiskey” by Punch Brothers

Song Year: 2010

What do you get when you combine a violin, a mandolin, a bass, and a banjo? You get the Punch Brothers, who make some of the best banjo-filled bluegrass music.

When you add lyrics about rye whiskey’s benefits, you get an excellent dancing song that will make you chuckle.

“Devil’s Been Talking” by Needtobreathe

Song Year: 2011

Needtobreathe tries to incorporate the banjo into their music whenever possible, and they do so here with stunning clarity and precision.

The banjo is easily recognizable and lends a certain quality of urgency that makes this song so powerful. This song is one of their best and uses the spectrum of the banjo’s ability.

Top Songs With Banjo, Final Thoughts

Those are the top songs with banjo in them. The banjo shows up in all kinds of music. It’s more than just a country music instrument. The banjo has a universal quality that makes it indispensable.

If you want to learn more about banjo music, check out our list of the best bluegrass songs you can listen to today!

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