rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
143.8k votes 10.2k voters 140.8k views 291 items

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!

1
2,732 2,416
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,354 2,411
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
2,182 1,497
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,206 2,087
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

5
1,272 2,062
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
953 1,641
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
jrdale1 added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

7
1,139 1,843
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
677 989
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
818 1,527
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
888 1,507
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
1,040 1,562
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
852 1,163
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

13
507 528
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

14
756 1,312
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

Rock Stars Who Have Aged Surprisingly Well

15
641 1,221
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

16
830 1,563
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
535 853
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
279 82
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

19
613 1,224
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

20
313 437
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

21
422 451
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers

22
430 625
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

23
599 919
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

24
631 842
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
533 845
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

26
406 613
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
417 401
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

28
651 973
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

The Best Rock Songs of 2018

29
470 561
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
206 88
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

31
566 752
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

32
265 326
Bono is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

33
269 407
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

34
383 615
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
637 778
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

The Top 500 Musical Groups/Artists of All Time

36
364 345
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

37
340 497
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

38
363 307
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
212 191
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

40
299 361
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

41
237 346
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

42
380 501
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

The Best Heavy Metal Songs of 2018

43
325 329
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

44
253 462
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

45
191 142
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

46
238 349
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

47
226 318
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
93 118
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

49
315 365
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
269 202
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music