music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
107.2k votes 7.7k voters 125.6k 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
2,033 1,982
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Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

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2
1,876 1,998
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
1,704 1,241
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Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
907 1,415
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Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

5
964 1,657
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
879 1,680
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Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
616 1,267
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
685 1,226
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

9
746 1,202
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

10
314 255
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

11
619 1,197
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

12
385 681
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

13
548 1,007
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

14
654 1,217
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

15
457 957
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Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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16
537 564
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
couchlock420 added Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

17
451 1,005
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

18
363 654
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

19
586 843
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Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

20
506 761
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TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

21
426 601
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couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

22
497 643
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

23
245 359
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

24
432 623
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

25
398 716
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

26
249 297
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

27
294 486
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

28
405 662
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
234 295
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 Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time The Most Interesting Things You Could Buy for $100K

30
189 197
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

31
247 424
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
278 481
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

33
222 300
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

34
190 293
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

35
188 250
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

36
314 430
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Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

37
164 285
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
207 212
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
226 413
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LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

40
241 402
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KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

41
197 245
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

42
140 233
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
126 102
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

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44
130 169
Donald Fagen is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Donald Fagen Rock music, Jazz fusion, Pop rock

45
153 283
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
101 185
Bono is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

47
186 340
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LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

48
180 230
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
209 268
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
304 412
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Eddie Vedder Grunge, Folk rock, Alternative rock