Rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
148.7k votes 10.5k voters 143.2k views 289 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
2,818 2,490
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,411 2,491
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
2,263 1,521
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,239 2,171
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

5
1,311 2,134
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
994 1,704
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
1,176 1,909
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
714 1,053
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
839 1,592
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
924 1,568
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
1,086 1,615
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
787 1,369
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
661 1,286
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

14
874 1,222
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

15
541 583
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

16
850 1,613
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
559 906
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
635 1,267
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
453 481
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

20
457 665
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

21
322 125
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

22
334 476
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music

23
620 948
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

24
654 872
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
551 868
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

26
446 421
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

27
419 633
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

28
669 995
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
495 577
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
232 101
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

31
287 421
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

32
287 347
Bono is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

33
580 769
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

34
398 625
Ranker Video
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
390 356
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
654 790
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

37
354 511
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

38
387 321
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
234 202
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

40
314 370
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

41
254 358
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

42
273 361
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

43
350 338
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

44
395 511
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

45
261 473
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

46
210 152
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
233 335
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
328 375
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
289 211
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

50
212 333
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Folk music, Folk rock