rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
139k votes 9.9k voters 138.3k views 292 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
2,650 2,383
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,287 2,389
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
2,140 1,463
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,229 2,038
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,104 1,815
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
1,165 2,051
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
897 1,613
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
627 968
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
1,003 1,532
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

10
791 1,502
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
856 1,481
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

12
818 1,142
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

13
612 1,196
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

14
718 1,293
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

Celebrities Whose Children Committed Suicide

15
464 506
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

16
806 1,542
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
504 833
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
584 1,206
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
296 417
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

20
411 599
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
226 65
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time

22
576 894
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
395 436
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

24
607 825
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
390 593
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
511 826
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

27
633 954
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

28
386 385
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

The Best Metal Albums of 2018

29
449 544
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
543 736
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
369 597
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

32
241 305
Bono is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

33
248 388
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
621 760
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

35
327 480
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

The Best Legal Drama TV Shows Ever

36
339 331
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

37
171 81
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

38
195 175
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

39
331 296
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

40
287 345
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

41
364 487
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

42
216 330
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

The Best Folk Songs of 2018

43
240 443
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

44
299 314
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
91 97
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

46
218 332
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
210 303
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
168 131
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
298 355
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
285 527
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly