music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
86k votes 6.5k voters 121k views 274 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
+ - 1,748 1,537
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Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

The Sexiest Women in Rock History, Ranked The Very Best Indie Pop Bands & Artists

2
+ - 1,486 1,427
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
+ - 1,337 1,013
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
+ - 780 1,001
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Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
+ - 856 1,278
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
+ - 750 1,280
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Elton John and Bernie Taupin

7
+ - 823 1,254
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8
+ - 788 1,311
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

9
+ - 539 931
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
+ - 543 556
Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pink Floyd Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

11
+ - 641 866
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
+ - 623 891
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

13
+ - 374 253
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

14
+ - 776 829
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Led Zeppelin Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

15
+ - 572 931
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

Rock Stars Who Have Aged Surprisingly Well Rappers with the Coolest Post-Rap Careers

16
+ - 298 379
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

17
+ - 487 736
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John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

18
+ - 362 546
Fleetwood Mac is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Fleetwood Mac Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

19
+ - 125 52
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

20
+ - 544 934
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Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

21
+ - 405 702
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Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

22
+ - 486 598
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Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

23
+ - 393 752
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Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

24
+ - 351 549
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

25
+ - 414 645
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U2 Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

26
+ - 352 427
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David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

27
+ - 320 525
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

28
+ - 450 588
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Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
+ - 408 414
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

The Best Rock Vocalists The Biggest Turn Ons in a Person

30
+ - 377 517
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Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
+ - 347 561
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
+ - 207 336
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

33
+ - 247 400
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Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

34
+ - 176 203
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

35
+ - 166 193
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

36
+ - 152 210
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

37
+ - 260 378
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David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

38
+ - 159 197
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

39
+ - 182 233
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

40
+ - 126 209
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

41
+ - 133 157
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

42
+ - 265 344
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Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

43
+ - 141 148
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

The Best Frontmen in Rock The Best Oreo Flavors

44
+ - 95 92
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

45
+ - 198 326
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Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

46
+ - 145 114
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

47
+ - 162 169
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

48
+ - 134 133
Bob Segar is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Segar

49
+ - 92 112
Ian Anderson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ian Anderson Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

50
+ - 98 152
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music