rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
121.8k votes 8.8k voters 132.1k views 298 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
2,324 2,230
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

Celebrities Whose Children Committed Suicide The Worst Rock Bands of All Time

2
2,090 2,233
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
1,966 1,347
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,108 1,879
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
997 1,655
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
1,038 1,899
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
740 1,485
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
862 1,401
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
693 1,388
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
698 1,020
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

11
498 854
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

12
745 1,424
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

13
628 1,190
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

14
743 1,388
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
338 406
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

The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time The Greatest Dystopian Novels

16
283 289
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

17
527 1,085
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

18
513 733
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

19
296 360
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

20
493 793
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

21
318 495
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

22
426 732
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

23
512 1,103
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

24
568 870
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

25
381 475
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

26
320 518
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
481 667
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

28
442 760
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

29
287 407
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

The Best Songs on G-Eazy's Album The Beautiful & Damned 11 People Who Actually Have Internet Meme Tattoos

30
266 240
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

31
226 331
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

32
547 698
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
266 277
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

34
326 533
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
240 285
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

36
205 322
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

37
86 26
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
84 11
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

39
162 238
Bono is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

40
176 266
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
133 116
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

42
233 263
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
182 264
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Greatest Jazz Guitarists of All Time

44
208 382
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

45
185 138
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

46
105 74
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
288 438
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

48
248 298
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
160 240
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

50
196 310
Robert Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
JesusAlonso added Robert Smith New Wave, Gothic rock, Pop music - The Cure