music The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
112.9k votes 8.1k voters 127.7k views 282 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
2,115 2,111
Ranker Video
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

Rock Stars Who Have Aged Surprisingly Well The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made

2
1,945 2,116
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
1,825 1,282
Ranker Video
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
450 287
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
George Harrison Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

5
935 1,540
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Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
1,007 1,771
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Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

7
926 1,795
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

8
660 587
Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
couchlock420 added Tom Petty Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock

9
357 316
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Petty Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

10
646 1,390
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
jrdale1 added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

11
776 1,309
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
640 1,301
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

13
626 935
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Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

14
700 1,336
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Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

15
567 1,110
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time 15 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

16
417 775
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

17
676 1,313
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

18
454 660
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

19
264 332
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

20
520 812
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

21
470 1,038
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Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

22
425 722
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

23
378 691
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

24
474 1,048
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

25
242 317
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

26
447 642
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

27
262 450
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

28
211 241
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

29
290 495
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time Fun Jobs That Pay Well

30
513 669
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

31
329 448
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

32
415 738
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

33
259 382
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

34
304 507
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
195 308
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

36
225 221
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

37
205 264
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

38
174 300
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

39
197 352
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

40
154 242
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
216 262
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

42
158 240
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

43
116 205
Bono is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

The All-Time Best Rock Bassists The Best New Fall 2015 Comedies

44
195 244
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
220 278
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

46
241 428
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly

47
256 413
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Yusuf Islam Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

48
145 115
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

49
95 102
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

50
73 60
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music