music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
85k votes 6.3k voters 110k views 290 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
+ - 1,691 1,514
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Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

The Sexiest Women in Rock The Funniest British and Irish Comedians of all Time

2
+ - 1,451 1,406
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
+ - 1,319 997
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
+ - 763 985
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Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
+ - 838 1,259
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
+ - 731 1,267
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Elton John and Bernie Taupin

7
+ - 802 1,243
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8
+ - 772 1,288
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

9
+ - 522 919
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
+ - 615 1,081
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Stevie Wonder Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

11
+ - 609 880
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

12
+ - 623 852
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

13
+ - 513 544
Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pink Floyd Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

14
+ - 355 242
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

15
+ - 564 924
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 16 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

16
+ - 480 724
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John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

17
+ - 751 821
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Led Zeppelin Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

18
+ - 312 270
The Who is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
The Who Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

19
+ - 350 535
Fleetwood Mac is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Fleetwood Mac Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

20
+ - 278 373
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

21
+ - 534 927
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Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

22
+ - 103 39
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

23
+ - 397 697
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Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

24
+ - 388 742
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Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

25
+ - 408 635
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U2 Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

26
+ - 345 543
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
+ - 479 593
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Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

28
+ - 344 423
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David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

29
+ - 313 521
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

The Best Rock Vocalists The Worst Things About Group Dinners

30
+ - 443 584
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Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

31
+ - 398 407
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

32
+ - 338 553
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

33
+ - 201 330
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

34
+ - 242 397
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Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

35
+ - 169 198
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

36
+ - 224 280
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
R.E.M. Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

37
+ - 158 188
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

38
+ - 146 205
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

39
+ - 256 374
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David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

40
+ - 178 228
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

41
+ - 371 511
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Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

42
+ - 272 366
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AC/DC Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music - Young/Young/Johnson

43
+ - 150 193
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

The Best Frontmen in Rock The Best Actors of 2014

44
+ - 122 203
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
+ - 259 339
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Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

46
+ - 293 458
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Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog

47
+ - 124 152
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

48
+ - 275 390
Rush is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rush Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

49
+ - 133 144
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

50
+ - 87 86
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music