music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
85k votes 6.3k voters 110k views 290 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!

1
+ - 1,696 1,519
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Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time The Funniest Canadian Comics & Actors of All Time

2
+ - 1,455 1,410
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
+ - 1,322 1,001
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
+ - 766 989
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Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
+ - 844 1,262
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
+ - 733 1,272
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Elton John and Bernie Taupin

7
+ - 809 1,244
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8
+ - 774 1,294
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

9
+ - 526 922
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

10
+ - 620 1,084
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Stevie Wonder Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

11
+ - 627 855
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
+ - 611 884
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

13
+ - 517 548
Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pink Floyd Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

14
+ - 358 247
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

15
+ - 566 928
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

The Best Rock Vocalists The Top 500 Musical Groups/Artists of All Time

16
+ - 482 729
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John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

17
+ - 755 824
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Led Zeppelin Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

18
+ - 316 272
The Who is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
The Who Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

19
+ - 284 375
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

20
+ - 352 539
Fleetwood Mac is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Fleetwood Mac Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

21
+ - 538 928
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Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

22
+ - 103 42
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

23
+ - 398 699
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Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

24
+ - 389 743
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Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

25
+ - 409 636
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U2 Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

26
+ - 482 594
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Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

27
+ - 345 545
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

28
+ - 346 424
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David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

29
+ - 314 523
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

The Best Frontmen in Rock The Biggest Turn Ons in a Person

30
+ - 445 585
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Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

31
+ - 398 409
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

32
+ - 339 554
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

33
+ - 243 398
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Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

34
+ - 201 333
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

35
+ - 225 281
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
R.E.M. Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

36
+ - 169 200
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

37
+ - 159 189
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

38
+ - 147 206
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

39
+ - 257 376
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David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

40
+ - 179 230
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

41
+ - 373 513
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Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

42
+ - 272 367
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AC/DC Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music - Young/Young/Johnson

43
+ - 150 195
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

The All-Time Best Rock Bassists The Best Dubstep Artists

44
+ - 124 205
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
+ - 261 339
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Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

46
+ - 293 459
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Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

47
+ - 125 154
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

48
+ - 275 391
Rush is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rush Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

49
+ - 136 146
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

50
+ - 89 88
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music