Top 10 Best Lyricists of All Time


The Top TenXW

1Bob Dylan

Well I am Shocked, Stunned and Flabbergasted! Well you know Usually I'd not be ANGRY if My First Choice is not On Top! But it's Bob ' Dylan! He is On TOP! He is Number one! Anyone whose Heard it's Alright Ma, Desolation Row, It's All over Now Baby Blue, Visions of Johanna, Blowin' in the Wind, Like a Rolling Stone, Positively 4th Street, Idiot Wind! Well There is no Way this man is not on Top! And until he is I shall boycott the musicians above him, Lucky for me there are only two! And well I don't listen to Tupac... EVER! And I'll just only listen to George Harrison's Beatles songs and give up John's solo career!

Bob Dylan is ten times the lyricist John Lennon ever could be. Dylan's lyrics are full of nuance, wordplay, innovation, allusions, and beauty. He is the closest a songwriter has ever come to poetry. John Lennon is not a poet he is a pop song writer.

You do realize that "pop" stands for popular right? So if someone writes a body of work in their lifetime that captivates and interests millions of people, they're no good, huh? Preposterous.

Greatest lyricist, songwriter, singer and performer of all-time. He has been doing it for over 50 years. Not many can hold a candle to that kind of stamina in the music business. There are artists that wrote great stuff but they either burned out or faded away. The test of time is the greatest test of all.

There is simply no debate. Nobody can touch Dylan. He's in a class by himself.

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2John Lennon

Lennon had more in his locker than anyone else. Dylan was predictable, put random words together. Lennon was much more diverse. Once you start to write a song, poetry disappears, it becomes a song. Lennon had a much more range of writing, the others wrote usually wrote in one style. The Irony to all this was Lennon new he was superior to anyone else. His intellect was so far ahead, no one can match him in this department. His vision, leadership, creative ability was to advance and mostly misunderstood.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney both were the dynamic duo of The Beatles, John and Paul had great talent and creativity. The lyrics written by the Beetles are somewhat simple but at the same time so full of meaning as mentioned. People can relate to those lyrics very deeply, and nothing makes a musician like John Lennon happier than when that happens. It's amazing the things music can do

For those who may not know, Lennon and McCartney were the writers of The Beatles. These men are definitely amazing lyricist. Their amazing song Yesterday, is considered one of today's saddest songs of all time. I want that song played at my funeral. John Lennon also wrote songs independently. One of John's most popular songs was Imagine. That song is one of the most lyrical songs ever.

The very best of all time.

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Eminem is the best lyricist ever, period. Killing rhymes and the beat is not something that Shakespeare could ever do! Never! He is a beast, not only in rapping, but also is rhyming... Let's not forget the flow. He does more than one thing at a time. This is not what poets do! Poets write poems. That's that! Eminem performs miracles. You may say it's obscene, on the other hand, I'll call it being straightforward and outspoken.

Eminem's lyrics are spectacular! His wordplay was, and always has been, revolutionary, the subject matter controversial and has received critical acclaim. His rhymes are unreal; want an example? Listen to Jay-z ft. Eminem - Renegade, Eminem outshines Jay-z (its embarrassing).

guys... yes 2Pac great super etc but wheres Em?
You don't know his song when I'm gone, or not afraid or no love? his lyrics! Em is the best! - jetix

In terms of lyrics, he is the lord...

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4Roger Waters

Every song written by Roger Waters has deep lyrics. There is a story behind all his songs. In terms of lyrics he's sometimes underrated. Come on, people, he wrote Dark Side Of The Moon. What more could you want? He writes about life, insanity, politics, alienation, society, death, time, treason. I'm glad he's in the top ten. He wasn't afraid to write about anything. He also wrote about the war and how it affected him. He's a genius. He also wrote The Wall, Animals, and Wish You Were Here after the true masterpiece, The Dark Side Of The Moon.

Talking about life in "The Dark Side of the Moon", nostalgia on "Wish You Were Here", politic in "The Animals", society in "The Wall", freedom, society and politic in "The Final Cut", human problems in modern life in "Amused to Death" and even more... Made him one of the best lyricists of the all time!

Nobody can write like Roger Waters. He words hold such raw power that most of it is unfathomable to plebs that prefer lesser artists. His songs can make me cry, laugh, scream, and can send shivers down my spine. His is the type of music that you have to listen to alone in a dark room without any external disturbances, because it is just that pure and powerful. He has made some of the most powerful works of art in the history of humankind and deserves to be called the best.

Come on people he deserves to be on top (Pink Floyd lyricist )

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5Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith is a musical genius, his lyrics are heartbreaking, vulnerable and powerful. You can't ignore his amazing talent. Doubtful that anybody will listen to him after seeing this but for anyone that does read this, I think you would appreciate listening to King's Crossing. It's about his life and is absolutely heartbreaking. I'm a big fan of a lot of these lyricsists such as Cobain for his originality and Lennon for just doing what he does best. But in my opinion Elliott should be so much more appreciated for his amazing work.

Um how can he not be on he, he's practically a poet. Beautiful music, Miss Misery, Between the Bars, Twilight when he sings them it's so heartbreaking.

He still is to this day the most real, passionate, fragile, honest musician out there. I am so thankful I came across his music, his music comforts me and makes me realise there was someone out there who just felt and thought the same about a lot of things in life. And that it is ok to feel like that.. Because simply there sometimes is just no other way. How hard you try.. Or fight against it. Especially when you feel so alone and you feel like no one truely really understands how you feel. I love you Elliott thank you for your beautiful music.

You stole my soul

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6Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)

Agreed, John Lennon was a huge inspiration, and a brilliant lyricist. But Kurt Cobain was just defining genius. A much better lyricist than Sir Lennon.

Best ever. He had true pain that fused the tile of his pen into a whispering dagger that made quakes we still feel today

"I wish I was like you,
Easily amused
Find my nest of salt
Everything is my fault
I'll take all the blame
Aqua seafoam shame"

Kurt spoke for a generation of disillusioned youth, and adults alike. He left a legacy that will still be discussed in another 20

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7Neil Young

Dylan is better. Lucinda is better. Springsteen and Elliot Smith are his equals. Everyone else is in the line standing behind Neil.

There will be another one
Who'll hover
Over you beneath the sun
See the things
That never come

When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go
It's over, it's over

" And I'm such a heal for making her feel so bad"

"I guess I'll just call it sickness gone, its hard to say the meaning of this song, an ambulance can only go so fast its easy to get buried in the past when you try to make a good thing last"

His lyrics are simple but the meaning is deep

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Although Rock and many other genres are vocally on another level, it take's true talent to put together lyrics that are said with such speed and annunciation. Rap songs may have up to three times as many words as compared to other genres. Tupac is a true genius, but where's Eminem?

Tupac touched souls with his lyrics, he was not just a rhymer, he had a main theme for every one of his songs.

"Only God can judge me"

He pointed out flaws in society and politics at the time, the negative side of gang violence, racism, discrimination against women, and emphasized the need for change.

Tupac is a poet and a very good one also. Tupac saved my life. I was going through a rough moment, being constantly bullied at school, being yelled by my parents, and basically, for being something I knew I wasn't. Tupac opened up my eyes and made me take a glance at the real world. The first Tupac song I've ever heard was Thungz Mansion, and it spoke to me. I later on purchased his Better Dayz album on iTunes. Rest in peace Tupac, you're truly the best to ever do it.

No one ever portrayed reality in his music than Tupac

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9Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)

Listen to Thank You, The Rain Song, Kashmir, All My Love, I'm Gonna Crawl, etc. The list goes on and on. He didn't just write about sex

Definitely one of the best singers and lyricists ever. He is absolutely amazing!

The best lyricist ever born no one can give meaning to songs the way he does just by making noises

10Freddie Mercury (Queen)

When it comes to songs, and if you need music straight from the heart, no questions asked, you go and ask Freddie... Somewhat

RIP, Freddie

We all love you (I KNOW YOU DO-- YOU BETTER)

Freddie was a real legend. There would be no musician like him that would be as good as him. His lyrics are much better than those who are in the upper list. He should have been in top 3.

NO. Freddie should be number one... John Lennon mostly wrote his songs out of crack... Freddie wrote it from the heart!

Bohemian Rhapsody alone can put him into top 3

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The Newcomers

?Amy Winehouse

Say what you will about her personal life,she is one of the most passionate and gripping lyricists of all time. The best lyrics are formed by those that can utilize song as an outlet for pain and hardship. Cobain, Winehouse are among the best at this. I have no idea why I had to put this up myself.

For you I was a flame
Love is a losing game
Five story fire as you came
Love is a losing game

One I wish I never played
Oh what a mess we made
And now the final frame
Love is a losing game

Played out by the band
Love is a losing hand
More than I could stand
Love is a losing hand

Self professed... profound
Till the chips were down
...know you're a gambling man
Love is a losing hand

Though I battle blind
Love is a fate resigned
Memories mar my mind
Love is a fate resigned

Over futile odds
And laughed at by the gods
And now the final frame
Love is a losing game

The Contenders

11Paul Simon

He creates movies of the mind and allows listeners to. Dream while awake with every story he tells and every note he plays.

Compared to the naïveté of Lennon's lyrics (I love 'Imagine', but it's hardly sophisticated), Paul Simon writes profound and deeply compelling songs. Most of them would genuinely work as poems if they were written out.

Paul Simon is in my top ten best for sure.

12Neil Peart (Rush)

If Neil could sing his lyrics as good as he writes them, a black hole would emerge out of the awesomeness.

"All this machinery making modern music
Can still be open-hearted
Not so coldly charted
It's really just a question of your honesty, yeah
Your honesty
One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity"


Neils lyrics give something that you rarely ever see anymore. He takes complex ideas and intellectual ideas and puts them into rock. No one can top this guy. It's the thinking mans lyrics.

Pretty underrated in my opinion... - MusicalPony

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13Jim Morrison

Lets swim to the moon
Let's climb through the tides
Penetrate the evening
That the city sleeps to hide

People are strange
When you're a strange
Faces look ugly
When your alone
Women seem wicked
When your unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down

Before you slip into unconsciousness
I'd like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss
Another kiss

The days are bright and filled with pain
Enclose me in your gentle reign
The your drove up to insane
Well meet again
Well meet again

Oh tell your freedom lies
The streets are fields that never die
Deliver me from reasons you'd rather cry

'enough said

He should be in the top ten. One of the best song-writers to have ever lived. Just look at songs like the Unknown Soldier and the End.

Definitely one of the best lyricists of all time. Definitely belongs in the top ten.

Those who believe that kurt cobain is a better lyricist than jim morrison need their art spoon fed to them

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14Bob Marley

Bob marley is one of the greatest cultural icon throughout globe. A common man can identify himself in his songs. His lyrics are simple yet have a cutting edge to it. His songs like a medicine for millions out there.

Bob Marley was a brilliant lyricist and possible the best that ever lived. To have ever lived. Music inspired by God and the people.

"The stone that the builder refuse
Will always be the head corner stone. "

"The things people refuse
Are the things they should use. "

- Robert Marley "Corner Stone" (1973)

Perhaps the greatest and most inspiring Lyricist in the past 50 years. Bob Marley... The King of Kings

Bob is number 1, who de cap fit let them wear it

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15Ian Anderson

'thick as a brick' is without doubt one of the most complex and lyrically brilliant albums of all time although in my opinion, Bob Dylan is still the greatest.
Paul S

16Bruce Springsteen

It's so sickening to see so many artist that shouldn't even be in the top 100 be ahead of bruce. This man is the one of the best if not the best lyricist of all time. He tells a story in each word he sings. He connects with everyone everywhere and knows how to reach personally as if you were actually talking with him. An he is quite witty. But it's not the websites fault, just the brain dead idiots that don't know what music is.

How springsteen isn't in the top 5 of this list so far is sickening. The man is a poet and ranks right alongside, lennon and dylan in lyric writing ability. Obviously the idiots who voted have never heard Born to run, Nebraska or The River... Pity them

The boss is a master poet, it's unbelievable the isn't in the top 10 at least. That man brings the poetry to music every time, like in his first two albums, there is proved his ability to write incredible stuff.

Not only a great lyricist but probably the most perfectly rounded musician ever, great voice, great on guitar and the most amazing stage presence I've ever seen, but to top it all off a great song writer! Jungleland is just the most amazing song potentially of all time!

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17Paul McCartney

The best form the best!

18Leonard Cohen

Should be no1. You guys have no idea

I feel like people are voting based on if they're fans of the artist. I mean, I'm a huge fan of Leonard Cohen, but I truly believe I've never known anyone to have as powerful and poetic lyrics as he does.

"Yes and you who must leave everything
That you cannot control
It begins with your family,
But soon it comes round to your soul,
Well I've been where you're hanging,
I think I can see how you're pinned :
When you're not feeling holy
Your loneliness says that you'vre sinned"

Leonard Cohen should be in the top 10 at least. 19 is too low for him. He should switch places with Eminem at no 3.

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19Adam Duritz

He uses his lyrics to create true imagery within the words that he writes. If you listen to a lot of the CC's songs you can picture what is happening. The best is when he is making up parts of the songs live where he just has the freedom to create a word picture and you can feel like you are there. The way that he and Dan (guitarist) work together is just perfect.

Each and every time he sings a song it is unique, there's not such a thing as "he's singing that song again", but "I wonder what he will come up with this time". And there's just no way you will picture "I walk along these hillsides in the summer 'neath the sunshine I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me" or "Now Autumn's fire is ashes on the breeze and it spins away like dust on pearls as winter comes to usher in the evening" and not swoon.

I heard people say the Adam Duritz singing the phone book would be beautiful. I think this is very true, and when he sings live he takes creative freedom with his own songs. Your in for a unique experience ever time you hear him.

Doesn't come much better than AD

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20Alex Turner

Alex turner has been perfectly discribed as "a master of observation." In a band that some British publications called the most important band of our generation he still seems to be constantly underrated. His lyrical abilities have evolved and changed but still seem to be spot on every single time. He started with describing the lives of underage drinkers going out to pubs on "Whatever People Say I Am..." Changed to a brilliant take of life itself on FWN (2nd album) with song like "this house is a circus" in which he breaks down the psychological conflicts that our generation deals with today and also claims that is a reason for the monkey's popularity. On "Humbug" he throws out his previous lyricisms completely and trades em in for a almost heightened reality drug induced poetic style- (listen to potion approaching- a song about a girl giving him a mixture of drugs that makes him fall for her). He cleans up the words and the edges on Suck it and See for more and yet still different ...more

Clever wordplay and cheeky verses. For someone so young this kid has mad talent.

Best song writer of this generation and massively underrated

Alex, you witty bastard.

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List StatsUpdated 29 Nov 2015

2,000 votes
242 listings
6 years, 95 days old

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