Music

The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters 

Lon Harris
Originally by
Updated May 4, 2020 203.2k votes 14k voters 164.5k views 269 items

List Rules Only individual songwriters of *rock songs* who are still alive. No duos. No bands.

Update: Follow Ranker's official New Rock 2020 playlist on Spotify!

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
2
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
3
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
4
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Brian May is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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John Prine is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Bono is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Michael Stipe is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
FrankieBruchis added
alternative rock Political commentary

More Michael Stipe 

#193 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #632 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #91 of 231 The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time

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Tracy Chapman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
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Joe Walsh is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters