Rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
149.7k 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
2,844 2,518
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,424 2,520
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
2,294 1,526
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,318 2,162
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,241 2,199
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

6
1,005 1,732
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
1,179 1,938
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
718 1,080
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
843 1,618
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
930 1,593
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
1,093 1,639
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
792 1,395
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
667 1,313
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

14
879 1,244
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

15
546 607
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

16
854 1,635
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
563 931
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
640 1,288
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
462 680
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

20
330 134
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

21
460 498
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

22
338 487
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music

23
623 955
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

24
657 876
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
556 870
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
425 635
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
450 423
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

28
671 997
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
240 103
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

30
497 582
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

31
290 423
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

32
583 771
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

33
289 352
Bono is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

34
400 630
Ranker Video
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
393 359
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
657 792
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

37
355 515
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

38
240 204
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

39
391 325
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

40
295 363
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

41
317 373
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

42
256 360
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

43
399 515
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

44
352 341
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
262 476
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

46
213 154
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
237 337
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
329 377
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
291 214
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

50
214 335
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Folk music, Folk rock