music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
107.8k votes 7.8k voters 125.8k views 276 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
2,042 2,002
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Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time The Best Gay Movies on Netflix

2
1,887 2,015
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
1,721 1,247
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
909 1,432
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Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
968 1,672
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
885 1,697
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
334 258
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

8
619 1,289
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
jrdale1 added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

9
686 1,242
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

10
747 1,217
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

11
619 1,212
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jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

12
388 694
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

13
550 566
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
couchlock420 added Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

14
550 1,021
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Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

15
654 1,231
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

The Best Rock Vocalists Catchiest Viral Internet Songs of All Time

16
458 970
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Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

17
456 1,018
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Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

18
258 298
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

19
511 769
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TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

20
590 849
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Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

21
296 486
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David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

22
431 608
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couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

23
499 645
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
399 719
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

25
363 657
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

26
247 363
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

27
433 626
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Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

28
408 664
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

29
240 296
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

The Best Frontmen in Rock 51 High-Paying, Flexible Jobs

30
192 197
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

31
248 426
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

32
278 482
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KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

33
316 430
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Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

34
189 251
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

35
222 301
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

36
190 294
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

37
164 286
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

38
208 212
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
228 414
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LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

40
202 246
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

41
242 402
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KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

42
140 235
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

43
128 103
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

The Best Female Rock Singers The Best Mitsubishis of All Time

44
107 186
Bono is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

45
155 283
Robert Smith is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
JesusAlonso added Robert Smith New Wave, Gothic rock, Pop music - The Cure

46
130 170
Donald Fagen is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Donald Fagen Rock music, Jazz fusion, Pop rock

47
188 341
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

48
182 231
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

49
209 270
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
306 413
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Pallknowing1 added Eddie Vedder Grunge, Folk rock, Alternative rock