Rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
149.8k votes 10.5k voters 143.6k views 290 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
2,845 2,520
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,425 2,522
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
2,296 1,527
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,320 2,165
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,242 2,202
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

6
1,006 1,734
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
1,181 1,940
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
718 1,084
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
843 1,622
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
930 1,597
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
1,095 1,641
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
794 1,397
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
668 1,315
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

14
880 1,246
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

15
546 610
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

16
855 1,637
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
563 933
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
640 1,290
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
333 136
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

20
461 499
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

21
463 682
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

22
624 956
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

23
338 488
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music

24
658 877
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
557 871
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
425 636
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
450 424
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

28
671 998
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
242 104
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

30
497 583
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

31
291 424
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

32
583 772
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

33
289 353
Bono is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

34
400 631
Ranker Video
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
393 360
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
657 793
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

37
355 516
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

38
240 205
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

39
391 326
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

40
298 364
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

41
317 374
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

42
256 361
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

43
399 516
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

44
352 342
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
262 477
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

46
214 154
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
237 338
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
329 378
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
291 215
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

50
214 336
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Folk music, Folk rock