music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
89k votes 6.7k voters 122k views 281 items Follow Embed

List Rules The best song writers - must be prolific

Who is the best songwriter alive today? The musician responsible for the lyrics and music that's the most memorable, significant and lasting in all of rock history, who is still with us today. We're talking, over the course of an entire career, the person who has written the most great songs--the best songwriters of the 21st century. A few things to keep in mind: (1) Songwriting teams are acceptable if they truly worked together (for example, Elton John writing music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics). When possible, as in the case of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, separate them and focus on individual songwriting. (2) LIVING songwriters. Living. (3) I think the ratio of "great songs" to "not good songs" is important to consider. If someone has 2 classic albums of great songs and then 5 albums worth of garbage, that impacts the overall view of the career, no matter how good the original work was. Something to keep in mind.

Add your own selections below and vote up the people you feel are worthy of the title of Greatest Living Rock Songwriter. PLUS, if you have Spotify, you can listen to full songs from each of the listed songwriters on our Ranker playlist!
list ordered by

1
+ - 1,798 1,614
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Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

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2
+ - 1,510 1,506
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
+ - 1,411 1,032
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
+ - 791 1,073
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Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
+ - 848 1,319
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6
+ - 779 1,348
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Elton John and Bernie Taupin

7
+ - 868 1,353
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

8
+ - 807 1,382
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

9
+ - 799 885
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Led Zeppelin Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

10
+ - 576 619
Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pink Floyd Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

11
+ - 555 1,000
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

12
+ - 661 931
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

13
+ - 631 953
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

14
+ - 384 313
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

15
+ - 312 413
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

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16
+ - 382 573
Fleetwood Mac is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Fleetwood Mac Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

17
+ - 552 960
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Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

18
+ - 432 664
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U2 Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

19
+ - 585 973
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

20
+ - 495 766
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John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

21
+ - 404 775
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Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

22
+ - 139 79
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

23
+ - 418 726
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Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

24
+ - 497 617
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Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

25
+ - 366 443
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David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

26
+ - 358 566
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

27
+ - 421 424
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

28
+ - 329 538
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

29
+ - 460 600
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Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

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30
+ - 385 530
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Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
+ - 360 570
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

32
+ - 184 211
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

33
+ - 176 204
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

34
+ - 172 203
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

35
+ - 160 218
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

36
+ - 214 349
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

37
+ - 251 413
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Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

38
+ - 265 386
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David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

39
+ - 109 99
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

40
+ - 186 243
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

41
+ - 136 218
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

42
+ - 139 166
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

43
+ - 150 155
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

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44
+ - 271 355
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Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

45
+ - 208 333
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Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

46
+ - 143 141
Bob Segar is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Segar

47
+ - 150 123
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

48
+ - 168 177
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
+ - 205 344
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Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

50
+ - 130 223
Robert Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Robert Smith New Wave, Gothic rock, Pop music - The Cure