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32.6k voters

These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time

Updated November 9, 2020 290.0k votes 32.6k voters 444.7k views816 items

List RulesVote 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.
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  • John Lennon & Paul McCartney1
    Lennon–McCartney (sometimes McCartney–Lennon) was the songwriting partnership between English...  more
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  • Paul Simon2
    3,490
    2,817

    Paul Simon

    Rock music, Folk music

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and actor....  more
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  • Bob Dylan3
    5,179
    4,267

    Bob Dylan

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Bob Dylan (born May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, poet, and visual...  more
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  • Paul McCartney4
    2,612
    2,026

    Paul McCartney

    Pop music, Rock music

    NationalityEngland

    Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician,...  more
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  • John Lennon5
    2,865
    2,430

    John Lennon

    Blues-rock, Pop music

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon, 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an...  more
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  • Mick Jagger/keith Richards6
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  • Freddie Mercury7
    1,791
    1,481

    Freddie Mercury

    Rock music, Pop music

    NationalityZanzibar

    Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British...  more
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  • Richard Thompson8
    423
    295

    Richard Thompson

    Rock music, Folk music

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    Richard Thompson (born 3 April 1949) is an English singer, songwriter, and guitarist.He made...  more
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  • Brian Wilson9
    3,878
    3,749

    Brian Wilson

    Pop music, Rock music

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and...  more
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  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart10
    1,677
    1,329

    NationalityHoly Roman Empire

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus...  more
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  • Simon and Garfunkel11
    1,610
    918

    Simon and Garfunkel

    Pop music, Worldbeat
    Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon...  more
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  • Tom Petty12
    1,123
    1,093

    Tom Petty

    Blues-rock, Heartland rock

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Thomas Earl Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017) was an American singer-songwriter,...  more
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  • Page & Plant13
    544
    487

    Page & Plant

    Blues-rock, Folk rock
    Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, both formerly of the English hard rock band Led Zeppelin,...  more
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  • David Gilmour and Roger Waters14
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  • Roger Waters15
    1,208
    1,255

    Roger Waters

    Folk rock, Progressive rock

    NationalityEngland

    George Roger Waters (born 6 September 1943) is an English songwriter, singer, bassist, and...  more
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  • Ludwig van Beethoven16
    1,278
    1,136

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Opera, Classical music

    NationalityAustrian Empire, Germany

    Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17...  more
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  • George Harrison17
    2,918
    3,183

    George Harrison

    Pop music, Rock music

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English musician,...  more
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  • Barry Gibb18
    589
    550

    Barry Gibb

    Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul

    NationalityUnited States of America, United Kingdom

    Sir Barry Alan Crompton Gibb, (born 1 September 1946) is a British-American singer,...  more
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  • Rodgers and Hammerstein19
    Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were an influential, innovative and successful...  more
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  • Prince20
    4,209
    4,398

    Prince

    Hip hop music, Synthpop

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) was an American singer, songwriter,...  more
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  • Don Henley21
    404
    418

    Don Henley

    Pop music, Rock music

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Donald Hugh Henley (born July 22, 1947) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record...  more
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  • Mark Knopfler22
    444
    470

    Mark Knopfler

    Celtic rock, Blues-rock

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Mark Freuder Knopfler ( NOP-flər; born 12 August 1949) is a British singer-songwriter,...  more
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  • Dolly Parton23
    608
    548

    Dolly Parton

    Ballad, Country pop

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Dolly Rebecca Parton (born January 19, 1946) is an American singer, songwriter,...  more
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  • Buddy Holly24
    984
    1,062

    Buddy Holly

    Lubbock sound, Rock music

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Buddy...  more
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  • Johann Sebastian Bach25
    962
    868

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Classical music

    NationalityHoly Roman Empire

    Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and...  more
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