rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
134.3k votes 9.6k voters 136.7k views 297 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
2,574 2,343
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,232 2,353
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
2,103 1,426
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,203 1,995
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,082 1,771
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
1,129 2,006
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
850 1,581
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
963 1,498
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
759 1,479
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
600 933
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

11
783 1,110
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

12
434 478
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

13
690 1,268
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

14
830 1,456
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

Rock Stars Who Have Aged Surprisingly Well

15
792 1,512
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

16
591 1,166
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

17
573 1,177
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

18
282 389
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

19
489 808
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

20
560 864
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
387 574
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.

The Best Horror Movies of 2016

22
591 796
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

23
370 413
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
369 359
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

25
376 568
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
621 927
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

27
495 803
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

28
195 44
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

The Best Rock Songs of 2018

29
434 524
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
527 715
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
359 575
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

32
607 738
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
321 456
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

34
239 368
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

35
220 281
Bono is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

The Best Albums That Didn't Win a Grammy

36
149 62
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

37
320 315
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

38
318 278
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
278 326
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

40
206 308
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
346 468
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

42
234 422
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

The Best Heavy Metal Songs of 2018

43
284 296
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
76 71
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

45
152 108
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

46
175 155
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
210 311
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

48
199 282
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

49
286 333
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
277 508
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly