music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
101k votes 7.4k voters 123k views 245 items Follow 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
+ - 1,989 1,822
Ranker Video v
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time The Best Cartoon Network TV Shows

2
+ - 1,837 1,844
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
+ - 1,573 1,193
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
+ - 890 1,255
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Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
+ - 940 1,500
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
+ - 860 1,522
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
+ - 672 1,073
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

8
+ - 595 1,116
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

9
+ - 718 1,054
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

10
+ - 601 1,057
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Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
+ - 536 860
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John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

12
+ - 362 536
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

13
+ - 639 1,072
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

14
+ - 449 813
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Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

15
+ - 435 863
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Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

The Best Rock Vocalists Incredibly Famous Bands Playing Shows You Would Never Imagine They Would

16
+ - 481 514
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

17
+ - 560 712
Ranker Video v
Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

18
+ - 390 628
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

19
+ - 482 498
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

20
+ - 409 522
Ranker Video v
David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

21
+ - 229 211
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

22
+ - 234 291
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

23
+ - 354 583
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

24
+ - 498 660
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Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

25
+ - 291 422
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David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

26
+ - 419 573
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Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

27
+ - 388 617
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

28
+ - 224 266
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

29
+ - 241 385
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

The Best Frontmen in Rock Fun Jobs That Pay Well

30
+ - 169 165
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

31
+ - 184 255
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

32
+ - 273 448
Ranker Video v
Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

33
+ - 210 265
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

34
+ - 179 218
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

35
+ - 207 267
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

36
+ - 299 399
Ranker Video v
Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

37
+ - 152 254
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

38
+ - 194 185
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
+ - 220 382
Ranker Video v
Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

40
+ - 182 214
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

41
+ - 233 366
Ranker Video v
Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

42
+ - 132 202
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

43
+ - 118 141
Donald Fagen is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Donald Fagen Rock music, Jazz fusion, Pop rock

The All-Time Best Rock Bassists The Best Indie Bands & Artists

44
+ - 203 238
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

45
+ - 146 257
Robert Smith is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Robert Smith New Wave, Gothic rock, Pop music - The Cure

46
+ - 87 151
Bono is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

47
+ - 179 314
Ranker Video v
Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

48
+ - 121 195
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don McLean Folk music, Folk rock

49
+ - 166 205
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

50
+ - 114 160
Ian Anderson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ian Anderson Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock