The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

Originally By 55k votes 4.5k voters 110k 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
  • 29 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 1,373
    - 790
    Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

  2. 2
    + 1,175
    - 717
    Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  3. 3
    + 882
    - 578
    Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

  4. 4
    + 595
    - 619
    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
    + 382
    - 301
    Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  6. 6
    + 459
    - 392
    Carole King is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  7. 7
    + 667
    - 628
    Mick Jagger & Keith Richards is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Mark

    ;
  8. 8
    + 646
    - 665
    Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

  9. 9
    + 671
    - 651
    Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

    ;
  10. 10
    + 512
    - 495
    Pete Townshend is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Randolph
    Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

    ;
  11. 11
    + 506
    - 509

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

  12. 12
    + 442
    - 470
    Van Morrison is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by jdbranded
    Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

    ;
  13. 13
    + 506
    - 381
    Ray Davies is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  14. 14
    + 469
    - 312
    Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  15. 15
    + 360
    - 363

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

    ;
  16. 16
    + 506
    - 484
    Leonard Cohen is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

    ;
  17. 17
    + 387
    - 315
    John Fogerty is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  18. 18
    + 237
    - 206
    Fleetwood Mac is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Fleetwood Mac Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

  19. 19
    + 340
    - 216
    Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  20. 20
    + 314
    - 402
    Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

    ;
  21. 21
    + 280
    - 300

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

    ;
  22. 22
    + 327
    - 429
    Sting is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Mark
    Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

  23. 23
    + 273
    - 308
    Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  24. 24
    + 248
    - 273
    James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  25. 25
    + 195
    - 221

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

    ;
  26. 26
    + 596
    - 541
    Led Zeppelin is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

    ;
  27. 27
    + 178
    - 118
    Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    ranked low on reranks
    Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

  28. 28
    + 398
    - 351
    Roger Waters is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Pallknowing1
    Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

    ;
  29. 29
    + 383
    - 339
    Peter Gabriel is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  30. 30
    + 164
    - 113


    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  31. 31
    + 340
    - 378

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

  32. 32
    + 157
    - 177

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

    ;
  33. 33
    + 166
    - 155
    R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    R.E.M. Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

  34. 34
    + 102
    - 107
    Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

  35. 35
    + 318
    - 337
    Elvis Costello is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

    ;
  36. 36
    + 269
    - 255
    David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    ranked low on reranks & added by couchlock420
    David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

  37. 37
    + 96
    - 107
    Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by HelenNguyen
    Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

  38. 38
    + 133
    - 129


    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  39. 39
    + 311
    - 274
    Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  40. 40
    + 219
    - 289
    David Byrne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

  41. 41
    + 224
    - 254
    Dolly Parton is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by Randolph
    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

    ;
  42. 42
    + 152
    - 211
    Yusuf Islam is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by KirkSaw
    Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed Cat Stevens

    ;
  43. 43
    + 82
    - 118
    John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by autosurvive
    John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

  44. 44
    + 111
    - 96

    ranked low on reranks
    Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

    ;
  45. 45
    + 224
    - 304
    Rush is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by KirkSaw
    Rush Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

  46. 46
    + 247
    - 320
    Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  47. 47
    + 82
    - 89
    Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters


    Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

  48. 48
    + 91
    - 88

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

    ;
  49. 49
    + 107
    - 114
    Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

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

  50. 50
    + 113
    - 156
    Kate Bush is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

    added by KirkSaw
    Kate Bush Synthpop, Pop rock, Alternative rock

257 +

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