Rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
150k votes 10.6k voters 143.7k views 290 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
2,850 2,525
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,429 2,528
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
2,304 1,527
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,321 2,171
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,242 2,208
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

6
1,009 1,738
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
1,183 1,945
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
718 1,089
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
843 1,627
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
930 1,602
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
1,097 1,645
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
795 1,402
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
669 1,318
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

14
883 1,249
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

15
546 614
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

16
859 1,640
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
564 935
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
640 1,293
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
340 488
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music

20
463 500
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

21
336 138
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

22
625 957
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

23
464 684
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

24
660 877
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
558 871
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
452 424
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

27
425 637
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

28
674 999
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
243 105
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

30
497 585
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

31
292 425
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

32
586 773
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

33
290 354
Bono is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

34
401 631
Ranker Video
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
395 360
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
657 793
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

37
242 205
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

38
356 516
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

39
392 326
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

40
300 365
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

41
318 374
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

42
257 362
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

43
401 517
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

44
352 343
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
262 477
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

46
216 154
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
238 338
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
330 379
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
292 215
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music

50
215 337
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Folk music, Folk rock