rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
134.7k votes 9.6k voters 136.8k 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
2,580 2,347
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,238 2,357
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
2,105 1,432
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,204 2,000
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,084 1,776
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
1,130 2,011
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
854 1,585
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
967 1,501
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
763 1,481
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
600 938
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

11
786 1,114
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

12
437 481
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
692 1,271
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

14
834 1,460
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
794 1,515
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

16
592 1,170
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

17
575 1,181
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

18
285 392
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

19
490 812
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

20
389 578
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
373 415
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

The Best Horror Movies of 2016

22
594 801
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

23
560 870
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
379 571
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

25
370 364
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

26
621 932
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

27
495 808
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
197 47
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

The Best Rock Songs of 2018

29
437 527
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
531 717
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
361 578
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

32
324 460
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

33
607 743
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

34
241 371
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
221 285
Bono is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

The Best Albums That Didn't Win a Grammy

36
152 64
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

37
322 318
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

38
320 281
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
279 330
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

40
208 311
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
349 470
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

42
235 426
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

The Best Heavy Metal Songs of 2018

43
285 300
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

44
78 77
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

45
175 160
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

46
210 316
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

47
153 114
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

48
201 285
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

49
287 337
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
226 176
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music