The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

Originally By 59k votes 4.7k voters 111k views 256 items tags f p @

List Criteria: 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!
Collection Photo: user uploaded image
  • 31 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 1,405
    - 947
    Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

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  2. 2
    + 1,192
    - 877

    added by Benjamin Dunn
    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

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  3. 3
    + 1,028
    - 606
    Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

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  4. 4
    + 605
    - 774
    Elton John and Bernie Taupin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Ron Mexico
    Elton John and Bernie Taupin

  5. 5
    + 679
    - 763
    Mick Jagger & Keith Richards is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Mark

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  6. 6
    + 681
    - 771
    Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

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  7. 7
    + 395
    - 441

    added by jrdale1
    Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

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  8. 8
    + 521
    - 609
    Pete Townshend is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Randolph
    Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

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  9. 9
    + 657
    - 779
    Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

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  10. 10
    + 515
    - 616

    added by Ron Mexico
    Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

    ;
  11. 11
    + 470
    - 499

    added by KirkSaw
    Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

    ;
  12. 12
    + 481
    - 404

    ranked low on reranks
    Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

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  13. 13
    + 513
    - 569
    Leonard Cohen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

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  14. 14
    + 449
    - 559
    Van Morrison is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    often listed & added by jdbranded
    Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

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  15. 15
    + 514
    - 464
    Ray Davies is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

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  16. 16
    + 353
    - 265

    ranked low on reranks
    Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

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  17. 17
    + 368
    - 422

    often listed & added by KirkSaw
    Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

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  18. 18
    + 393
    - 371
    John Fogerty is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    ranked low on reranks & added by Ariel Kana
    Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

    ;
  19. 19
    + 319
    - 442
    Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    often listed & added by Ariel Kana
    Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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  20. 20
    + 244
    - 252


    Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  21. 21
    + 605
    - 569
    Led Zeppelin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    ranked low on reranks & added by Randolph
    Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

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  22. 22
    + 249
    - 301


    Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

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  23. 23
    + 288
    - 330

    added by ohnoitsmanasco
    Disco, Pop music, Rock music Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

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  24. 24
    + 333
    - 456
    Sting is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Mark
    Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

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  25. 25
    + 276
    - 335

    often listed & added by ohnoitsmanasco
    Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

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  26. 26
    + 400
    - 373
    Roger Waters is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    ranked low on reranks & added by Pallknowing1
    Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

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  27. 27
    + 386
    - 361
    Peter Gabriel is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    ranked low on reranks & added by TVs Frank
    New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

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  28. 28
    + 200
    - 244

    often listed & added by KirkSaw
    Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

    ;
  29. 29
    + 182
    - 141


    Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

    ;
  30. 30
    + 169
    - 134


    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  31. 31
    + 344
    - 400

    added by Kel Varnsen
    Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

    ;
  32. 32
    + 160
    - 199

    added by Cory85
    Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco The last surviving Bee Gee.

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  33. 33
    + 321
    - 357
    Elvis Costello is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

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  34. 34
    + 167
    - 176


    Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

    ;
  35. 35
    + 25
    - 0
    Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    new! & added by Stardustmania
    Peter Lennodo Rock/ Pop Baroque pop/rock

  36. 36
    + 103
    - 128

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Pop music, Vocal music

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  37. 37
    + 271
    - 275
    David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by couchlock420
    Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

    ;
  38. 38
    + 315
    - 293

    ranked low on reranks & added by couchlock420
    Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

    ;
  39. 39
    + 97
    - 125

    added by HelenNguyen
    Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  40. 40
    + 252
    - 340
    Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Ariel Kana
    Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

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  41. 41
    + 135
    - 148


    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  42. 42
    + 220
    - 305
    David Byrne is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

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  43. 43
    + 228
    - 269
    Dolly Parton is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Randolph
    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

    ;
  44. 44
    + 228
    - 290
    AC/DC is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Clark Benson
    Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music Young/Young/Johnson

    ;
  45. 45
    + 229
    - 321

    added by KirkSaw
    Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

    ;
  46. 46
    + 153
    - 230
    Yusuf Islam is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by KirkSaw
    Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed Cat Stevens

    ;
  47. 47
    + 113
    - 111


    Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

    ;
  48. 48
    + 84
    - 137

    often listed & added by autosurvive
    Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

    ;
  49. 49
    + 84
    - 106


    Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

    ;
  50. 50
    + 92
    - 105

    added by looksharp
    Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

    ;
257 +

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