Rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
149k votes 10.5k voters 143.3k views 289 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!
list ordered by

1
2,823 2,495
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,414 2,497
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Benjamin Dunn added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
2,270 1,522
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,240 2,177
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

5
1,315 2,139
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
997 1,710
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Timetraveler55 added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

7
1,178 1,914
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
715 1,059
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
842 1,597
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
927 1,573
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
1,089 1,620
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
791 1,374
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
663 1,293
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

14
877 1,227
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

15
543 589
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

16
852 1,618
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
561 912
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
638 1,273
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
336 478
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music

20
455 487
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

21
458 670
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

22
324 127
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

23
621 951
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

24
655 874
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
553 868
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

26
423 633
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
448 421
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

28
671 995
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
496 578
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
234 102
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

31
289 347
Bono is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

32
288 422
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

33
582 769
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

34
399 626
Ranker Video
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
391 357
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
355 512
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

37
655 791
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

38
389 321
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
236 202
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

40
315 371
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

41
256 358
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

42
280 361
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

43
396 512
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

44
351 339
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
262 474
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

46
212 152
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
234 335
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
329 375
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
290 211
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

50
213 333
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Folk music, Folk rock