rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
123.6k votes 8.9k voters 132.6k views 297 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
2,356 2,239
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,100 2,249
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
1,981 1,355
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,122 1,889
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,007 1,669
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
1,052 1,909
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
752 1,496
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
874 1,413
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
703 1,398
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
512 863
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

11
640 1,200
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

12
708 1,034
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

13
753 1,436
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

14
756 1,397
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

Rock Stars Who Have Aged Surprisingly Well

15
298 297
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

16
533 1,097
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

17
349 417
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

18
521 1,112
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
437 740
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

20
328 503
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
502 801
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

The Best Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Her

22
523 741
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

23
305 367
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

24
572 879
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

25
390 482
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

26
329 524
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
449 766
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

28
488 674
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

The Best Rock Songs of 2018

29
232 336
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

30
559 702
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

31
290 414
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

32
276 244
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

33
250 286
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

34
330 539
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
210 326
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

The Top 500 Musical Groups/Artists of All Time

36
276 280
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

37
99 13
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

38
95 31
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

39
169 243
Bono is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

40
183 269
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

41
244 267
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

42
213 386
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

The Best Rock Vocalists

43
188 271
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

44
116 77
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

45
174 242
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

46
137 124
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

47
193 142
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

48
294 443
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

49
255 302
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
260 459
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly