music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
90k 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
+ - 1,802 1,618
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Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

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2
+ - 1,512 1,511
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
+ - 1,413 1,036
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
+ - 793 1,077
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Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
+ - 850 1,323
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6
+ - 779 1,352
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Elton John and Bernie Taupin

7
+ - 871 1,356
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

8
+ - 808 1,385
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

9
+ - 802 889
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Led Zeppelin Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

10
+ - 578 622
Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pink Floyd Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

11
+ - 556 1,004
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
+ - 663 934
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

13
+ - 631 956
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

14
+ - 386 316
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

15
+ - 314 416
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
+ - 384 577
Fleetwood Mac is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Fleetwood Mac Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

17
+ - 554 962
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Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

18
+ - 585 976
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

19
+ - 496 769
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John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

20
+ - 432 668
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U2 Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

21
+ - 404 779
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Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

22
+ - 418 730
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Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

23
+ - 140 83
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

24
+ - 498 620
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Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

25
+ - 368 446
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David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

26
+ - 360 569
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
+ - 424 426
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
+ - 461 603
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Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
+ - 329 542
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time 10 Surprising Reasons Why Humans Have Fingernails

30
+ - 386 534
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Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
+ - 361 574
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
+ - 187 213
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

33
+ - 178 207
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

34
+ - 175 205
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

35
+ - 161 222
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

36
+ - 214 353
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
+ - 251 417
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Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

38
+ - 265 390
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David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

39
+ - 187 246
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

40
+ - 111 103
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

41
+ - 136 222
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

42
+ - 152 158
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

43
+ - 273 358
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Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

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44
+ - 139 169
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

45
+ - 208 336
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Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

46
+ - 145 144
Bob Segar is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Segar

47
+ - 152 126
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

48
+ - 169 180
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
+ - 205 347
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Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

50
+ - 130 226
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