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
    - 951
    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
    + 1,193
    - 881

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

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  3. 3
    + 1,030
    - 608
    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
    - 778
    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
    - 767
    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
    - 774
    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
    - 444

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

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  8. 8
    + 521
    - 612
    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
    - 782
    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
    - 618

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

    ;
  11. 11
    + 470
    - 502

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

    ;
  12. 12
    + 481
    - 407

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

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  13. 13
    + 513
    - 572
    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
    - 562
    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
    - 467
    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
    - 267

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

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  17. 17
    + 368
    - 424

    added by KirkSaw
    Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

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  18. 18
    + 393
    - 373
    John Fogerty is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  19. 19
    + 319
    - 444
    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
    - 254


    Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  21. 21
    + 605
    - 572
    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
    - 303


    Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

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  23. 23
    + 288
    - 332

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

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  24. 24
    + 333
    - 458
    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
    - 337

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

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  26. 26
    + 400
    - 375
    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
    - 363
    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
    - 246

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

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  29. 29
    + 182
    - 143


    Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

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  30. 30
    + 169
    - 136


    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  31. 31
    + 344
    - 402

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

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  32. 32
    + 27
    - 0
    Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  33. 33
    + 160
    - 201

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

    ;
  34. 34
    + 321
    - 359
    Elvis Costello is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

    ;
  35. 35
    + 167
    - 178


    Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

    ;
  36. 36
    + 103
    - 128


    Pop music, Vocal music

    ;
  37. 37
    + 271
    - 276
    David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  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
    - 342
    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

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  45. 45
    + 229
    - 321

    added by KirkSaw
    Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

    ;
  46. 46
    + 153
    - 232
    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
    - 138

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

    ;
  49. 49
    + 84
    - 107


    Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

    ;
  50. 50
    + 92
    - 106

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

    ;
257 +

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