Entertainment The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
154.6k votes 10.9k voters 145.1k views 296 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
2,960 2,629
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,494 2,643
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
2,424 1,563
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,360 2,283
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,280 2,323
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

6
1,054 1,857
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
1,219 2,047
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
757 1,194
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
827 1,499
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

10
1,149 1,736
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

11
871 1,729
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

12
964 1,701
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

13
923 1,324
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

14
685 1,399
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

15
487 553
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

16
884 1,710
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
378 192
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

18
572 688
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

19
662 1,363
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

20
584 1,003
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

21
607 791
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

22
307 445
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

23
277 117
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

24
688 906
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
648 995
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

26
476 443
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

27
581 893
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

28
355 519
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music

29
480 718
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

30
442 649
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

31
374 525
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

32
698 1,009
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

33
511 600
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

34
276 218
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

35
420 371
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
418 643
Ranker Video
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

37
305 369
Bono is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

38
419 524
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

39
335 379
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

40
682 801
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

41
231 161
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

42
408 336
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

43
331 383
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

44
269 370
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

45
372 353
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

46
270 487
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

47
256 347
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
191 237
Michael Stipe is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
FrankieBruchis added Jangle pop, Pop music, Alternative rock - alternative rock Political commentary

49
344 386
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
263 408
Robert Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
JesusAlonso added New Wave, Gothic rock, Pop music - The Cure