rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
139.7k votes 9.9k voters 138.6k views 292 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
2,660 2,388
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,293 2,392
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
2,143 1,469
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,171 2,054
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

5
1,234 2,041
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
1,106 1,819
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

7
901 1,618
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
632 971
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
793 1,506
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
859 1,485
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
1,008 1,537
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
823 1,146
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

13
616 1,200
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

14
723 1,295
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

Celebrities Whose Children Committed Suicide

15
471 510
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

16
809 1,545
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
508 837
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
590 1,208
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
298 419
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

20
412 602
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

21
578 898
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time

22
229 67
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

23
397 438
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

24
607 828
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
390 596
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
512 829
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

27
633 957
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

28
388 388
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

The Best Metal Albums of 2018

29
451 547
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
544 739
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
369 601
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

32
245 309
Bono is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

33
250 390
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

34
622 763
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

35
328 482
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

The Best Legal Drama TV Shows Ever

36
342 333
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

37
174 82
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

38
335 297
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
196 178
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

40
289 347
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

41
217 332
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

42
364 490
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

The Best Folk Songs of 2018

43
242 447
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

44
301 316
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
92 100
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

46
220 334
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

47
212 307
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
170 133
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

49
299 357
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
189 307
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don McLean Folk music, Folk rock