music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
105.0k votes 7.5k voters 124.7k views 276 items Embed

List Rules Only individual songwriters of *rock songs* who are still alive. No duos. No bands.

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
2,009 1,914
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Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

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2
1,855 1,934
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Benjamin Dunn added Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
1,643 1,227
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
900 1,348
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Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
953 1,592
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
871 1,615
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
610 1,204
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
jrdale1 added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

8
679 1,164
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

9
733 1,141
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

10
615 1,138
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jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
375 619
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

12
545 944
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Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
454 897
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Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

14
647 1,157
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

15
443 948
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Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time 21 Most Annoyingly Over-Used Movie Trailer Songs

16
253 245
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

17
502 707
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TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

18
493 602
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

19
580 792
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Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

20
239 329
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

21
293 457
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David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

22
359 627
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

23
395 690
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

24
498 553
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
couchlock420 added Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

25
427 602
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Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

26
420 580
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couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

27
393 647
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

28
235 291
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

29
226 288
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time The Worst Qualities in a Woman

30
181 189
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

31
245 413
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

32
275 472
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KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

33
188 284
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

34
218 292
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

35
184 244
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

36
308 422
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Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

37
158 278
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

38
201 207
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
223 407
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LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

40
236 394
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KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

41
190 238
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

42
136 228
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

43
98 176
Bono is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

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44
117 98
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

45
126 166
Donald Fagen is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Donald Fagen Rock music, Jazz fusion, Pop rock

46
149 279
Robert Smith is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
JesusAlonso added Robert Smith New Wave, Gothic rock, Pop music - The Cure

47
183 338
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LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

48
205 263
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
173 227
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

50
298 410
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Pallknowing1 added Eddie Vedder Grunge, Folk rock, Alternative rock