rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
133.5k votes 9.5k voters 136.4k 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
2,556 2,336
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,222 2,347
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
2,094 1,422
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,198 1,988
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,076 1,764
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
1,124 2,000
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
837 1,577
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
955 1,493
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
753 1,474
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
590 930
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

11
773 1,105
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

12
424 474
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
684 1,264
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

14
825 1,451
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
788 1,506
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

16
587 1,158
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

17
569 1,171
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

18
277 381
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

19
487 799
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

20
382 569
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
584 790
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

The Best TV Reboots

22
550 859
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
365 353
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

24
361 410
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

25
371 564
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
614 920
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

27
491 798
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
186 41
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
429 521
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
525 709
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
354 568
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

32
601 735
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

33
237 362
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

34
316 452
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

35
214 275
Bono is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

The Greatest Songs by One-Hit Wonders

36
144 57
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
314 274
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

38
314 312
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

39
276 322
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

40
202 304
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
342 465
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

42
75 67
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

The Best Heavy Metal Songs of 2018

43
232 420
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

44
280 294
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
209 307
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

46
148 105
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
170 152
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

48
196 279
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
283 331
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
276 503
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly