Entertainment The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
151.8k votes 10.7k voters 144.2k views 290 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!
list ordered by

1
2,886 2,563
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,452 2,566
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Benjamin Dunn added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
2,341 1,541
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,336 2,207
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,254 2,246
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

6
1,020 1,779
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Timetraveler55 added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

7
1,194 1,977
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
730 1,125
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
852 1,662
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
944 1,633
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
1,114 1,674
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
805 1,433
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
903 1,277
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

14
676 1,350
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

15
865 1,667
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

16
559 640
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

17
569 964
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
649 1,318
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
671 888
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

20
350 149
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

21
631 981
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

22
469 703
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

23
568 881
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

24
344 506
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music

25
469 518
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

26
434 642
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
463 431
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

28
684 1,002
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
256 109
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

30
503 591
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

31
298 430
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

32
593 777
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

33
407 634
Ranker Video
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

34
297 360
Bono is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

35
402 364
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
666 797
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

37
253 213
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

38
318 370
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

39
361 521
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

40
398 332
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

41
264 364
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

42
322 378
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

43
408 519
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

44
358 347
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
266 481
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

46
220 158
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
246 341
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
335 382
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
220 342
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Folk music, Folk rock

50
294 222
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music