Music

The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters 

Lon Harris
Originally by
180.9k votes 12.7k voters 156.1k views 299 items

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
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock
2
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Benjamin Dunn added
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music
3
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock
4
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added
Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat
5
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Country
6
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Timetraveler55 added
Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music
7
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music
8
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge
9
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added
Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music
10
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added
Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop
11
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock
12
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added
Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock
13
Ranker Video
jdbranded added
Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music
14
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae
15
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music
16
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock
17
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock
18
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added
Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave
19
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added
Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock
20
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added
Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music
21
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music
22
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added
Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock
23
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock
24
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added
Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music
25
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music