rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
141.5k votes 10k voters 139.6k views 292 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
2,688 2,398
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,314 2,398
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
2,161 1,480
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,190 2,064
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

5
1,248 2,050
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
924 1,625
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
1,116 1,830
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
650 976
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
804 1,513
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
873 1,491
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
1,020 1,546
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
488 514
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

13
831 1,153
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

14
628 1,206
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

Rock Stars Who Have Aged Surprisingly Well

15
731 1,304
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

16
812 1,552
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
519 841
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
246 72
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

19
304 425
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

20
421 609
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

21
596 1,216
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

The Best Teriyaki Sauce Brands

22
408 445
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

23
587 906
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
617 831
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
396 602
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
520 835
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

27
402 391
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

28
642 962
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

The Best Rock Songs of 2018

29
461 554
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
555 744
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
254 317
Bono is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

32
374 608
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

33
187 85
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

34
256 396
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

35
628 770
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 Greatest Songs by '90s One-Hit Wonders

36
350 337
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

37
332 488
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

38
344 301
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
204 182
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
293 353
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

41
371 496
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

42
223 338
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

The Best Heavy Metal Songs of 2018

43
248 451
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

44
311 320
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
225 340
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

46
93 106
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

47
217 311
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
177 138
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

49
258 192
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

50
305 361
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music