rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
117.6k votes 8.6k voters 130.4k views 282 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
2,255 2,187
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

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2
2,033 2,191
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
1,925 1,318
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,073 1,846
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
974 1,619
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
994 1,869
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
705 1,455
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
821 1,377
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
668 1,363
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
670 998
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

11
728 1,399
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

12
606 1,166
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
466 830
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

14
724 1,363
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
308 385
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

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16
296 466
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

17
487 713
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

18
495 1,081
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
502 1,064
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

20
275 342
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

21
469 771
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

22
256 275
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

23
549 856
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

24
409 721
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

25
361 460
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

26
308 505
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
469 653
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

28
278 394
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

29
217 317
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

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30
430 748
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

31
531 681
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

32
317 520
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

33
247 229
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

34
228 270
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

35
191 305
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

36
240 267
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

37
164 253
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

38
206 367
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

39
144 222
Bono is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

40
62 15
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

41
172 250
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

42
217 250
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

43
115 109
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

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44
166 127
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

45
55 6
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

46
236 287
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

47
272 426
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

48
252 440
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

49
86 66
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

50
146 230
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues