The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

Originally By 60k votes 4.7k voters 111k views 263 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
    + 1,407
    - 963
    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
    + 1,195
    - 893

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

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  3. 3
    + 1,035
    - 617
    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
    + 606
    - 790
    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
    + 683
    - 786
    Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

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  6. 6
    + 396
    - 455

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

    ;
  7. 7
    + 521
    - 622
    Pete Townshend is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Randolph
    Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

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  8. 8
    + 660
    - 790
    Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

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  9. 9
    + 515
    - 627

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

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  10. 10
    + 681
    - 776
    Mick Jagger & Keith Richards is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Mark

    ;
  11. 11
    + 470
    - 510

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

    ;
  12. 12
    + 481
    - 417

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

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  13. 13
    + 514
    - 580
    Leonard Cohen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

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  14. 14
    + 450
    - 570
    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

    ;
  15. 15
    + 514
    - 476
    Ray Davies is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  16. 16
    + 368
    - 432

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

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  17. 17
    + 393
    - 382
    John Fogerty is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  18. 18
    + 354
    - 276

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

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  19. 19
    + 319
    - 452
    Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

    ;
  20. 20
    + 244
    - 261


    Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  21. 21
    + 249
    - 310


    Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

    ;
  22. 22
    + 288
    - 339

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

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  23. 23
    + 333
    - 466
    Sting is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    often listed & added by Mark
    Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

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  24. 24
    + 605
    - 579
    Led Zeppelin is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

    ;
  25. 25
    + 276
    - 345

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

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  26. 26
    + 400
    - 382
    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
    - 370
    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
    - 253

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

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  29. 29
    + 182
    - 150


    Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

    ;
  30. 30
    + 169
    - 143


    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  31. 31
    + 344
    - 409

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

    ;
  32. 32
    + 160
    - 206

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

    ;
  33. 33
    + 321
    - 364
    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
    - 183


    Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

    ;
  35. 35
    + 103
    - 133


    Pop music, Vocal music

    ;
  36. 36
    + 271
    - 281
    David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

    ;
  37. 37
    + 315
    - 298

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 253
    - 347
    Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

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  39. 39
    + 97
    - 130

    added by HelenNguyen
    Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  40. 40
    + 135
    - 153


    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  41. 41
    + 221
    - 310
    David Byrne is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

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  42. 42
    + 34
    - 1
    Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    ranked low on reranks & added by Stardustmania
    Peter Lennodo Rock/ Pop Baroque pop/rock

  43. 43
    + 229
    - 274
    Dolly Parton is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Randolph
    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

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  44. 44
    + 229
    - 326

    added by KirkSaw
    Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

    ;
  45. 45
    + 153
    - 237
    Yusuf Islam is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by KirkSaw
    Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed Cat Stevens

    ;
  46. 46
    + 113
    - 113


    Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

    ;
  47. 47
    + 84
    - 140

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

    ;
  48. 48
    + 84
    - 108


    Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

    ;
  49. 49
    + 108
    - 128

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

    ;
  50. 50
    + 92
    - 107

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

    ;
264 +

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