The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

Originally By 75k votes 5.7k voters 116k views 290 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
  • 43 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 1,537
    - 1,379
    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
    + 1,311
    - 1,298

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

    ;
  3. 3
    + 1,243
    - 880
    Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    ranked low on reranks
    Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

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  4. 4
    + 762
    - 1,153
    Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

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  5. 5
    + 637
    - 928
    Pete Townshend is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Randolph
    Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

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  6. 6
    + 721
    - 1,169
    Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

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  7. 7
    + 744
    - 1,138
    Mick Jagger & Keith Richards is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Mark

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  8. 8
    + 663
    - 1,165
    Elton John and Bernie Taupin is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Ron Mexico
    Elton John and Bernie Taupin

  9. 9
    + 565
    - 980

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

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  10. 10
    + 459
    - 812

    often listed & added by jrdale1
    Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  11. 11
    + 556
    - 787
    Ray Davies is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  12. 12
    + 402
    - 730

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

    ;
  13. 13
    + 542
    - 764


    Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

    ;
  14. 14
    + 441
    - 635
    John Fogerty is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Ariel Kana
    Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

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  15. 15
    + 511
    - 846

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

    ;
  16. 16
    + 217
    - 138

    ranked low on reranks & added by looksharp
    Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

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  17. 17
    + 493
    - 846
    Van Morrison is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  18. 18
    + 224
    - 297


    Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

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  19. 19
    + 294
    - 460


    Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  20. 20
    + 416
    - 470

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

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  21. 21
    + 359
    - 667
    Sting is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Mark
    Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

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  22. 22
    + 368
    - 560

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

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  23. 23
    + 357
    - 635
    Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Ariel Kana
    Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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  24. 24
    + 314
    - 493

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

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  25. 25
    + 669
    - 753
    Led Zeppelin is listed (or ranked) 25 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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  26. 26
    + 430
    - 532
    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
    + 281
    - 471

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

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  28. 28
    + 415
    - 537
    Peter Gabriel is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by TVs Frank
    New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  29. 29
    + 300
    - 382
    David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  30. 30
    + 351
    - 363

    added by couchlock420
    Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

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  31. 31
    + 211
    - 244


    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  32. 32
    + 307
    - 506

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

    ;
  33. 33
    + 218
    - 371

    added by KirkSaw
    Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

    ;
  34. 34
    + 176
    - 306

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

    ;
  35. 35
    + 349
    - 472
    Elvis Costello is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

    ;
  36. 36
    + 234
    - 349
    David Byrne is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

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  37. 37
    + 134
    - 160


    Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

    ;
  38. 38
    + 191
    - 246


    Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

    ;
  39. 39
    + 153
    - 194


    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  40. 40
    + 133
    - 163

    added by autosurvive
    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

    ;
  41. 41
    + 249
    - 329
    AC/DC is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  42. 42
    + 120
    - 182


    Pop music, Vocal music

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  43. 43
    + 37
    - 22


    Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

    ;
  44. 44
    + 243
    - 316
    Dolly Parton is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Randolph
    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

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  45. 45
    + 115
    - 176

    added by HelenNguyen
    Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  46. 46
    + 98
    - 180

    added by autosurvive
    Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

    ;
  47. 47
    + 269
    - 432
    Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  48. 48
    + 247
    - 364

    added by KirkSaw
    Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

    ;
  49. 49
    + 100
    - 135


    Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

    ;
  50. 50
    + 166
    - 296
    Yusuf Islam is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    often listed & added by KirkSaw
    Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed Cat Stevens

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291 +

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