Music

These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated January 23, 2020 362.5k votes 31.2k voters 431.4k views 844 items

List Rules Vote on whether or not you think the songwriters should be considered the best of all time

If you ask anyone who has ever tried, it's tough to write one song, nevertheless a batch to be considered a songwriter. Add to the mix that the song actually getting recorded and becoming a hit, it's pretty hard to be a great songwriter. Yet that's what make the greatest songwriters different from Average Joe who has tried to pen a song. The best songwriters usually have written multiple hits that not only their most ardent fans know, but also casual listeners.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are considered two the best songwriters. The Beatles were fueled by this legendary duo's prowess and are debatably the greatest band because these two outstanding songwriters.

Similarly to Lennon and McCartney, Bob Dylan is another songwriter who can be considered one of the greatest of all time. Dylan's songwriting introduced powerful imagery and themes that were deeply layered within the context of his writing. His songwriting influenced an entire generation of bands, songwriters and fans, including another member of this list, Bruce Springsteen.

This is the Ultimate List of the greatest songwriters of all time. Everyone on this list is considered one of the best at his or her craft. Vote for the songwriter who you think is the greatest, which shouldn't be too easy with a list like this one.
list ordered by
1
John Lennon & Paul M... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Lennon–McCartney (sometimes McCartney–Lennon) was the songwriting partnership between English musicians John Lennon (1940–1980) and Paul McCartney (born 1942) of the Beatles. It is the best ...more
2
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Rock music, Folk music & Folk rock; Nationality: United States of America
Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's musical career has spanned seven decades with his fame and commercial success beginning as half of ...more

More Paul Simon 

#2 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters The Best Paul Simon Solo Songs of All Timelisted on All U.S. Senators from Illinois

3
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Folk music; Nationality: United States of America
Bob Dylan (born May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, poet, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for more than fifty years. Much of his most ...more

More Bob Dylan 

#306 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #64 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best Bob Dylan Songs

4
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Outsider music; Nationality: United States of America
Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer who co-founded the Beach Boys. After signing with Capitol Records in 1962, Wilson wrote ...more

More Brian Wilson 

#7 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #51 of 185 The All-Time Best Rock Bassists The True Story Behind The Film 'Love And Mercy'

5
Mick Jagger/keith Richar... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
6
John Lennon is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Blues-rock, Pop music & Rock music; Nationality: England
John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon, 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as the rhythm guitarist for ...more

More John Lennon 

#12 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists 28 Facts You Didn't Know About John Lennonlisted on Famous Accordionists

7
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
JasonWitherspoon added Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Experimental rock; Nationality: England
Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as bass player for the Beatles. His ...more

More Paul McCartney 

#1 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #13 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists The Best Paul McCartney Songs

8
Freddie Mercury is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
coldspacemusic added Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Rockabilly; Nationality: United Kingdom
Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter, record producer, and lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. Regarded as one of the ...more

More Freddie Mercury 

#1 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #3 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years 9 Facts That Prove Freddie Mercury Is An Epic Legend For A Reason

9
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Experimental rock; Nationality: United Kingdom
George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the ...more

More George Harrison 

#54 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #99 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best George Harrison Albums of All Time

10
Buddy Holly is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Lubbock sound, Rock music & Rockabilly; Nationality: United States of America
Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Buddy Holly, was an American musician and singer-songwriter who was a central and pioneering figure of ...more

More Buddy Holly 

#87 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #102 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time What Actually Happened The Day The Music Died?

11
Prince is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Hip hop music, Synthpop & New Wave; Nationality: United States of America
Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. With a career spanning four decades, Prince was ...more

More Prince 

#19 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #21 of 639 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time The Best Prince Songs of All Time

12
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
StacyWolfe added Genre: Blues-rock, Heartland rock & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America
Thomas Earl Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017) was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. He was the lead singer of Tom Petty and the ...more

More Tom Petty 

#35 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #262 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive

13
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Opera, Ballet & Art song; Nationality: Holy Roman Empire
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era. Born in ...more

More Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

#7 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive 17 Bizarre, Mind-Blowing Facts and Stories About Mozartlisted on 16 Famous Bodies From History Found In Inconspicuous Places

14
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
wiabux added Genre: Blue-eyed soul, Pop music & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America
William Martin Joel (born May 9, 1949) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist. Commonly nicknamed the "Piano Man" after his first hit and signature song of the same ...more

More Billy Joel 

#70 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters The Best Billy Joel Songs of All Timelisted on Famous Accordionists

15
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Folk music; Nationality: United States of America
Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and actor. With 38 songs in the Top 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, Diamond has sold more ...more

More Neil Diamond 

#40 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #74 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Neil Diamond Albums of All Time

16
George Gershwin is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Opera, Musical theatre & Film score; Nationality: United States of America
George Gershwin (; born Jacob Bruskin Gershowitz, September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American composer and pianist whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his ...more

More George Gershwin 

#415 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #31 of 362 The Best Classical Composers

17
Roger Waters is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
MohammadrezaMomeni added Genre: Folk rock, Progressive rock & Art rock; Nationality: England
George Roger Waters (born 6 September 1943) is an English songwriter, singer, bassist, and composer. In 1965, he co-founded the progressive rock band Pink Floyd. Waters initially served solely ...more

More Roger Waters 

#168 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #8 of 185 The All-Time Best Rock Bassists The Best Roger Waters Albums of All Time

18
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul & Pop music; Nationality: United States of America
Carole King (born Carol Joan Klein, February 9, 1942) is an American singer-songwriter who has been active since 1958, initially as one of the staff songwriters at the Brill Building and later ...more

More Carole King 

#10 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #139 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best Carole King Albums of All Time

19
Simon and Garfunkel is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
jmmikkola added
Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They are best known for achieving commercial and critical success in the ...more

More Simon and Garfunkel 

#17 of 454 The Best Duos of All Time #27 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time The Best Simon And Garfunkel Songs

20
John Denver is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Western music, Pop music & Traditional music; Nationality: United States of America
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, activist, and humanitarian, ...more

More John Denver 

#86 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #100 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best John Denver Albums of All Time

21
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Opera and Classical music; Nationality: Austrian Empire
Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the ...more

More Ludwig van Beethoven 

#33 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #3 of 362 The Best Classical Composers 18 Grim Facts About The Life Of Beethoven You Never Learned As A Kid

22
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
JasonWitherspoon added Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Folk music; Nationality: Canada
Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. (born November 17, 1938) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music. He is credited with helping to ...more

More Gordon Lightfoot 

#171 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #145 of 285 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Best Gordon Lightfoot Albums of All Time

23
John Fogerty is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Americana, Blues-rock & Swamp pop; Nationality: United States of America
John Cameron Fogerty (born May 28, 1945) is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Together with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and his brother Tom Fogerty, he founded the band Creedence ...more

More John Fogerty 

#9 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #107 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best John Fogerty Albums of All Time

24
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
Genre: Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul & Disco; Nationality: Isle of Man
Sir Barry Alan Crompton Gibb, (born 1 September 1946) is a British-American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the group the Bee Gees, ...more

More Barry Gibb 

#27 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #112 of 398 The Best Frontmen in Rock

25
Todd Rundgren is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time
chefsteve added Genre: Blue-eyed soul, Pop music & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America
Todd Harry Rundgren (born June 22, 1948) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and record producer who has performed a diverse range of styles as a solo artist and as a ...more

More Todd Rundgren 

#39 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #219 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists The Best Todd Rundgren Albums of All Time