rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
117.2k votes 8.5k voters 130.1k views 282 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
2,242 2,182
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

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2
2,026 2,187
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
1,918 1,316
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,067 1,841
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
970 1,615
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
989 1,863
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
700 1,450
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
818 1,372
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
666 1,357
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
667 993
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

11
724 1,395
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

12
603 1,161
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
462 824
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

14
721 1,358
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

15
304 380
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

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16
484 707
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

17
290 462
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

18
465 767
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

19
252 271
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

20
499 1,060
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

21
271 339
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

22
546 853
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

23
491 1,078
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

24
407 719
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

25
358 460
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

26
306 505
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
467 653
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

28
275 394
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

29
215 316
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

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30
428 747
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
529 680
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

32
246 229
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

33
316 520
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

34
190 305
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
223 270
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

36
237 267
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

37
163 253
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

38
206 367
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

39
142 221
Bono is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

40
172 250
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

41
60 15
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

42
216 250
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

43
114 109
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

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44
166 127
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

45
233 287
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

46
271 426
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

47
251 440
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

48
84 66
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

49
51 6
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

50
144 230
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues