music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
111.1k votes 7.9k voters 126.7k views 281 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
2,080 2,069
Ranker Video
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

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2
1,927 2,078
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
1,785 1,269
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
927 1,496
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Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
995 1,732
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
408 273
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

7
908 1,760
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

8
615 580
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
couchlock420 added Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

9
636 1,356
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
jrdale1 added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

10
759 1,279
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

11
320 311
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

12
630 1,269
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

13
613 903
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Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

14
695 1,304
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

15
560 1,079
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

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16
406 748
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

17
444 632
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

18
517 787
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

19
254 312
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

20
663 1,290
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

21
465 1,022
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

22
418 713
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

23
468 1,042
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

24
369 686
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

25
205 234
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

26
325 440
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

27
232 311
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

28
507 662
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

29
441 638
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

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30
411 733
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

31
284 490
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

32
254 442
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

33
302 499
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

34
251 377
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

35
193 303
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

36
215 218
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

37
200 259
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

38
168 296
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

39
211 255
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

40
146 240
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
153 232
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

42
112 199
Bono is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

43
195 345
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

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44
189 240
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
237 422
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

46
137 108
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

47
251 409
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

48
213 276
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
90 99
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

50
69 57
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music