music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
113.3k votes 8.2k voters 127.9k views 279 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
2,131 2,124
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 Best Rock Vocalists

2
1,959 2,126
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
1,837 1,284
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
941 1,548
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
1,015 1,779
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
933 1,806
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
653 1,399
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
780 1,317
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
632 943
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

10
644 1,308
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
704 1,344
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

12
572 1,116
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
424 779
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

14
270 335
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

15
458 664
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

The Best Frontmen in Rock The Best Western Movies Streaming on Hulu

16
678 1,315
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

17
525 814
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

18
245 318
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

19
473 1,039
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

20
428 725
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
215 242
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

22
383 691
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

23
515 669
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

24
332 448
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

25
448 642
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

26
478 1,049
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

27
260 382
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

28
291 495
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

29
262 450
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

Songs Sung By Rock Stars At Other Rock Stars' Funerals Resting Bitch Face: Who Does It Best?

30
416 738
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
305 508
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

32
226 221
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

33
197 308
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

34
206 264
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

35
176 300
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

36
221 262
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

37
155 244
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
197 354
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

39
163 240
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

40
197 244
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

41
223 279
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

42
146 116
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

43
119 205
Bono is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

The Best EDM YouTube Channels The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

44
244 429
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

45
257 414
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

46
97 102
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

47
75 60
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

48
37 9
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

49
132 195
Ian Anderson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Ian Anderson Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

50
131 223
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues