Rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
145.1k votes 10.2k voters 141.6k views 291 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!

1
2,756 2,425
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,369 2,420
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
2,188 1,505
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,214 2,100
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

5
1,282 2,071
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
964 1,647
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Timetraveler55 added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

7
1,146 1,852
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
685 998
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
822 1,536
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
896 1,512
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
1,050 1,567
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
764 1,317
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
858 1,172
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

14
516 533
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

Child Actors Who Tragically Died Young

15
644 1,229
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

16
833 1,570
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
542 857
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
292 85
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

19
617 1,229
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

20
319 442
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

21
432 454
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time

22
438 630
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

23
604 926
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

24
637 847
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
410 617
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
536 850
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
425 405
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

28
655 979
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

The Best Metal Albums Of 2018

29
478 563
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
569 758
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
212 93
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

32
274 412
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

33
269 332
Bono is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

34
385 620
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
369 349
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

The Most Anticipated Fall 2015 Video Games

36
638 784
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

37
342 502
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

38
370 310
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
220 192
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

40
302 364
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

41
240 350
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

42
383 503
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

The 10 Most Expensive Albums Ever Made

43
330 331
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

44
253 466
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

45
241 351
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
194 145
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
226 322
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
316 369
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
93 122
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

50
205 322
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don McLean Folk music, Folk rock