Top 10 Best Lyricists of All Time

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The Top Ten

1 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and artist who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades.

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!

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.

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.

Anybody that has heard him wouldn't say he's not. He has to a degree shaped our language.

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2 John Lennon John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age 40.

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.

His sheer brilliance,poignancy and creativity is unparalleled by anyone, even Dylan and Paul Simon.

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3 Roger Waters Roger Waters George Roger Waters, is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He is mostly known for being the secondary lead vocalist and bassist of Pink Floyd.

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.

Roger Waters is great! - Userguy44

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4 Eminem Eminem Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is an American rapper, actor and music producer born on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Eminem has sold over 300 million records making him the bestselling hip-hop artist of all time. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of D12 and (with Royce ...read more.

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.

You must know nothing about being an actual lyricist because if you did you simply wouldn't have voted for Eminem! - TheThomasThomas

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

I’ve listened to some of Bob Dylan’s songs and there great. But Eminem’s wordplay, wittiness, and flow are far better.

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5 Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) Kurt Cobain was born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1987, he started the grunge band Nirvana, which became one of the most successful bands ever. He was a talented yet troubled grunge performer. Kurt Cobain became a rock legend in the 1990s with his band. He committed suicide at his ...read more.

Was going to say Lennon but really I appreciate Kurt's artfulness. It's about evocation and hitting the right vibe over story telling which made him so original. Even if dreary, morbid, gross whatever the man was also hilarious with it. A++

Kurt Cobain deserves to be at least in the top 3. Words just came effortlessly to him. He was at ease with connecting ideas and emotions in a way that is relatable to everyone. He invented a new genre for music. The genre grunge took form from his words. Kurt never wanted fane or money. He stayed in cheap hotels and never flaunted his wealth. He was honest and real and that would translat into his lyrics.

It's hard to find one song by Kurt about anything happy. A harsh up bringing, his bipolar, stomach condition, and of course his vast drug experience messed him up. But from that we got true poetry describing pain and sadness like no one ever had or will again.
Rest in peace Kurt, whether it was suicide or murder, you deserved better.

Lyrics just connect on every level

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6 Neil Young Neil Young Neil Percival Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.

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

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

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

The words to 'Thrasher' are pure poetry one single song makes me smile, laugh, cry, think, inspired, even full of 'Wanderlust' and more. Amazing!

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7 Freddie Mercury (Queen) Freddie Mercury (Queen) Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Zanzibari-born British singer of Indian descent, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the British rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave ...read more.

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.

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)

Bohemian Rhapsody... So I have to say more. All that legendary came from that one man's head. Greatest song of all time. He will forever be legendary.

2 words: Bohemian Rhapsody.

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8 Tupac Tupac Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was an American rapper and actor born on June 16, 1971 in East Harlem, New York. Tupac sold over 75 million records worldwide and has been referred to in multiple major publications such as Rolling Stone as one of the greatest music artists of all time. 2Pac was ...read more.

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.

Tupac changed the world, surprised that he's tiger than Eminem when em has kinda lost it in the 2010' and has sold about 100 million records in like 20 years when Tupac sold 75-100 million records in just 5 years. pacs lyrics has changed many peoples thinking about the world and other people. he touched us and its sad how rap has changed under the 2000' its just mumble rap now and none lyrical when back in the days people listen to rap to get the lyrical content if he and biggie never died, I think that the world had looked a lot different.
R.I.P

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9 Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) Robert Anthony Plant is an English musician, singer, and songwriter best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the rock band 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

hi is good

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10 Paul Simon Paul Simon Paul Frederic Simon is an American musician, singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel.

I would vote Bob Dylan, but I see the legend that is Paul Simon is in 11th! Madness. As a student of English Literature I would have to say the lyrics of "I am a rock", "America" and pretty much all the songs on the album Graceland are nothing other than poetry is its purest and most beautiful form. The idea that those above are in the faintest way superior makes me laugh. Paul's lyrics (and music, which is equally untouchable) transcends all those listed above (many of whom have written brilliant lyrics but not lyrics that can evoke the same raw power as those of Paul). Only Bob Dylan can rival this man's brilliance and no other by a country mile. As far as his place at the top of the pile is concerned: "he is a rock. He is an island".

I've been pondering this question for a while now. Just listened to "Cool, Cool River" and "She Moves On", and I'm going with Paul Simon as greatest poet/lyricist of my generation, at least for me. His lyrics mesmerize me.

Love "Cool, Cool River" as well as so many of his more popular works - Billyv

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

Paul Simon is one of those "writer's writers"... None of those shallow, cliche "Oooh I love you baby" lyrics that you typically find in rock or in popular music. His writing can be poetry. It can be story-telling. It can be political. It can be emotional. It can even be funny. He's just a versatile, talented writer.

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The Contenders

11 Leonard Cohen Leonard Cohen Leonard Norman Cohen was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality and personal relationships. Cohen died on November 7, 2016 at the age of 82.

As someone who has listened to all of the artists in the current 20 twenty, and would identify as a fan of most, I can say that Leonard Cohen wins this contest by a landslide. Bob Dylan has had his preachy Christian period, John Lennon and Paul McCartney frequently wrote silly nonsensical crap like Yellow Submarine, Come Together or I Am the Walrus. Robert Plant ripped off a good chunk of "his" lyrics from other artists. Neil Young hasn't released a good album in a long time, meanwhile Leonard Cohen is still going strong, releasing Popular Problems only 2 years back to critical acclaim at the age of 82. Roger Waters was in a mainly instrumental band with less lyrics in their entire discography than someone like Leonard Cohen has on a single album, so how he's even considered when people think of the greatest lyricists is beyond me. (Note to Pink Floyd fans, writing great lyrics isn't the same as writing about political themes. Songs like "Another brick in the wall" ...more

Some poetry in Pink Floyd got me hooked on. Their lyrics many times are too real and relatable. But I haven't listened to much from Cohen, just defending my choice. - ZackStarsky

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.

Any One who have ever listened to Cohen can not vote anyone else over him.

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12 Neil Peart (Rush) Neil Peart (Rush) Neil Ellwood Peart (born September 12, 1952 in Hamilton, Canada) is a Canadian-American musician and author, best known as the drummer and primary lyricist for the rock band Rush. Peart has received numerous awards for his musical performances.

Powerful and moving. Peart has a passion for Sci-Fi, culture, and personal freedom. I would put him in the top 5, next to Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. He's a born Poet.

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"

Poetry

Absolute poet, 10/10 legendary animal

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13 Bob Marley Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim.

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

Life is one big road with lots of signs
So when you riding through the ruts don't you complicate your mind

What more do you want?

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14 Jim Morrison Jim Morrison James Douglas "Jim" Morrison was an American singer, songwriter, and poet best remembered as the lead singer of the Doors.

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.

I voted for Jim Morrison because his lyrics are poetic and also because no one put ray davies from The Kinks on this list! - TheThomasThomas

It is an indictment of our educational system that Morrison is not in top 3

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15 Paul McCartney Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer . With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop and rock music .

The best form the best!

Blackbird, Maybe I'm Amazed, Let Me Roll It, etc...

Why Paul is 15? He need to be at least in top 5. I like Eminem and Kurt, but they are not better than Paul. He is a incredible writer with music career of over 50+ years. Period.

Only Lennon and Dylan could be mentioned with McCartney.

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16 Ian Anderson Ian Anderson Ian Scott Anderson, MBE is a Scottish-born musician, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for his work as the lead vocalist, flautist and acoustic guitarist of British rock band Jethro Tull.

Man Anderson wipes his ass with them poet-wannabe rappers. Ian Anderson is not only a musical genius, lyric-wise he's also great. I bet all these Tupac fanboys can't even understand Thick as a Brick, Aqualung or a Passion Play. Agree with Dylan being number one though

The music is simultaneously direct; aloof; complex and searingly direct. When lyrics appear...they can be appreciated and delighted-in even WITHOUT musical accompaniment...and merely as poetry. AGELESS: still 'discovering' after 30 years!

'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

There's good. There's great. There's masterclass. Ian Anderson is masterclass.

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17 David Bowie David Bowie David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie, was an English singer born in London on January 8, 1947, and was the son of a fundraiser and a waitress. He died in New York on January 10, 2016 at the age of 69, a hero to millions. ...read more.

David Bowie really was an amazing lyricist. His songs evoke such images and show such thought. The way his lyrics flow are amazing, his innovations were delightful, and his lyrics fit the music so well! Maybe Bob Dylan was better at evoking images and maybe Bob Dylan was more innovative, but it was usually at the almost complete sacrifice of actual music.

Stone love - she kneels before the grave
A brave son - who gave his life
To save the slogans
That hovers between the headstone and her eyes
For they penetrate her grieving

New love - a boy and girl are talking
New words - that only they can share in
New words - a love so strong it tears their hearts

To sleep - through the fleeting hours of morning

Just a small part of Bowie's Soul Love.
Always inspired and always setting the scene of his highly original songs.

He's been consistently a fantastic lyricist for almost 50 years and desrves to be a lot higher.

Favorite Lyric:
"We had a friend, a talking man / Who spoke of many powers he had / Not of the best of men, but ours / We used him, we let him use his powers / We let him fill our needs / Now we are strong." - David Bowie, from Cygnet Committee

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18 Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and humanitarian. He is known for his work with the E Street Band. Nicknamed "The Boss", Springsteen is widely known for his brand of poetic lyrics, Americana, working class and sometimes political ...read more.

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

I can honestly say, I truly believe Bruce Springsteen to be a lyricist leagues ahead of both Bob Dylan and John Lennon. The Boss is the only lyricist whose lyrics I can just read as poetry and be totally satisfied.

Honestly don't believe that Lennon or Dylan ever wrote anything of that caliber.

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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19 Elliott 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.

Pure lyrics of a shadow generation shared with gentle voice and everlasting themes of life, death and love. Gone too soon or maybe just in time to be rememberd as one of the greatest music authors.

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20 Alex Turner Alex Turner Alexander David "Alex" Turner is an English musician. He is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and principal songwriter of the English rock band Arctic Monkeys.

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

He has the versatility of being a good observer and storyteller, telling stories in a cheeky, humorous and full of colloquialism as well as being deep and poetic. One of the best lyricist in the last 20 years.

Best song writer of this generation and massively underrated

Alex turners lyrics are only surpassed by Bruce Springsteen and even then it’s close listen “ I just wanted to be one of the strokes now look at the mess you made me make, hitch hiking with a monogrammed suitcase miles away from any half useful imaginary highway. I’m a big name in deep space ask you mates but golden boys in bad shape, I found out the hard way that here ain’t no place for dolls like you and me everybody is floating on a barge down an endless stream of great T.V., 1984, 2019. Maybe I was a little too wild in the 70’s, rocket ship grease down the crack of my knuckles. Karate bandana. Warp speed chic. Hair down to there. Impressive mustache. Love came in a bottle with a twist off cap, let’s all have a swig and do a hot lap.” Tell me a song with better lyrics I’ll wait.

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21 Lou Reed Lou Reed Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He was the guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground, and his solo career spanned five decades. ...read more.

Better than Dylan. Period. He stepped out of the boundaries of social norms to give commentary on things most people were to scared or ignorant to talk about. He was able to write some of the most sad and depressing songs ever written; so true to reality that you can't help but feel depressed. His 90's music was more relevant than any of your whiny Grunge bands, and, in the 60's, he was one of the first people to blatantly talk about drugs in their music. He also, along with the Kinks, talked about the transgender community in his music. I may be one of the few people who thinks Lou is better than Dylan, but ya gotta agree he should immediately after. If you disagree, well, besides the fact that you're wrong, you need to listen to his album, "Berlin."

When I listen to lou reed its like I just melt into the music. the music and lyrics go together perfectly throughout all his songs. Heroin is such a unique and effective song. having said this I did vote for bob Dylan. I think this is why he has 1 % cause most people who appreciate good music and actually listen to the lyrics would appreciate and love both artists but when it comes to voting lyrically speaking bob Dylan would have to be number 1.

Why is Lou Reed all the way down here. I voted for Dylan but Reed had a way of telling truths through his lyrics, terrifying the listeners, and evoking emotions. He is far better than most of the crap at the top, namely Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin is great but its lyrics are not), Eminem (there is nothing deep to his lyrics. period. ), or Freddy Mercury (he had a few good songs but most of it is just insubstantial pomp)

Lou Reed! The best!

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22 Cat Stevens Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian, and education philanthropist.

He's written so many good lyrics, but my favourite is 'If you want to sing out, sing out'. Chorus: "You can do what you want, the opportunity's on, and if you can find a new way, you can do it today, you can make it all true and you can make it undo, you see, it's easy, you only need to know...". Very uplifting and inspiring, as is the movie 'Harold & Maude', in which the song is used as soundtrack.

At times Cat Stevens seems like a less pretentious Bob Dylan, carefully weaving words together to get his message across. "I know we've come a long way, we're changing day to day, but tell me, where will the children play? "

23 Maynard James Keenan Maynard James Keenan Maynard James Keenan, often referred to by his initials MJK, is an American musician, record producer, winemaker, and actor, best known as the vocalist for Grammy Award-winning progressive metal band Tool.

I had never heard anyone use words and voice so masterfully until I stumbled across Maynard Keenan and his many musical endeavours. It felt like it was not just the well selected words and eye-opening phrases that had meaning, but that each and every syllable was purposefully sung in a way that got the most beautiful and effective sound from it that merged effortlessly with the journey that the music was taking - no small feat given how complex Tool's music is for example. Maynard has been my creative hero ever since.

REALLY!
ONE PERSON on this list can come freakin close to Maynard.
That's John Lennon.
I like rush and nirvana more than the beatles, and I can still say that.

Best lyricist of all time, hands down. His lyrics are so complex, yet he makes them make so much sense

"Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion. "
-Maynard James Keenan (Schism)

24 Notorious B.I.G. Notorious B.I.G. Christopher George Latore Wallace, better known by his stage name, The Notorious B.I.G (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls), is consistently ranked as one of the best rappers of all time. The Notorious B.I.G was born May 21, 1972, he was born in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of 24 The Notorious B.I.G was murdered ...read more.

How is even the beatles above him lyric wise?

Should be in top 10 above em and pac

Big is the best lyricist of all time period

25 Thom Yorke Thom Yorke Thomas Edward "Thom" Yorke is an English musician best known as the singer and principal songwriter of the alternative rock band Radiohead.

I've been listening to radiohead for a while now yet the most astonishingly beautiful verse has this genius Thom Yorke has ever written only popped up in my way very recently, it's from the early acoustic version of motion picture soundtrack, here it is:

"Beautiful angel

Pulled apart at birth

Limbless and helpless

I can't even recognize you

I think you're crazy, maybe

I will see you in the next life"

I would love to take a look inside this mans mind. A pure lyrical genius. I have no words to describe quite how beautiful and haunting and poetic his writing is, but I'm sure he would. His writing is so versatile, but I can always tell that it is his. He definitely should be higher on this list, at least top 5. I'm convinced he's an angel sent from above, and I'm not even religious.

His lyrics are the incontrovertible proof that he thinks in music

Why is Alex Turner over Thom Yorke? I can't believe this.

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26 Serj Tankian Serj Tankian Serj Tankian is a Lebanese-born Armenian-American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, poet, and political activist.

Come on if you have to listen to the song again to make sure that that's what he said then he is really good

Serj fuses dead serious topics, delivery, and gravity while maintaining a sense of delightful absurdism in many of the songs he has been responsible for.

27 Mark Knopfler Mark Knopfler Mark Freuder Knopfler is a British singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and film score composer. He is best known for being the frontman of the British band Dire Straits.

It's a tragedy that Mark doesn't get enough credit for his beyond superb guitar skills, but it's quite an evil sin to not put him on even the top 20. Like, seriously? I'll never get over Mark not getting enough credit, because I've NEVER seen him get the credit he deserves, but I'm glad I've come to know his music.

Just listen to sultans of swing or romeo and julliet
Its embarrasing that I have to add this

28 Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix (born November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter . Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated ...read more.

His brilliant lyrics are largely overshadowed by his guitar playing, but Jimi was an absolute genius as far as writing lyrics goes. The man was an absolute poet, and it's a shame most people take his lyrics for granted.

Best guitarist ever, but on a bad day there was always Hendrix to lull me back. He's well above a lot of these guys.

29 Adam 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.

I used to feel so alone and disconnected until I discovered August and Everything After. I can honestly say they saved my life!

I love you Adam xoxoxoxo

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30 George Harrison George Harrison George Harrison was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

George Harrison throughout his career is very much under-rated both in terms of his guitar and his lyrics.. He's a brilliant writer.. Drawing inspiration some of the greats in the field like Dylan & Lennon he's lyrics both in the later Beatles (Within You Without You, Something etc) and his solo career are excellent...

I'd take George over John and Paul ANY day.

31 Joni Mitchell Joni Mitchell Roberta Joan Mitchell, professionally known as Joni Mitchell, is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy.

Joni is a different kind of lyricist. You can tell that she is a painter from listening to her songs and the way she uses lyrics to tell a story within them. Just listen to a beautiful song like the circle game which is simple but paints a beautiful picture about life and how we should keep moving forward. Of course she also has a more more melancholic side, songs like river and case of you really show you the kind of passion that she puts into her lyrics that cut deep into the soul. Joni is quite possibly the best female lyricist of all time.

What a sad and strange world we live in when Eminem comes in at No 2 and Joni is down here.

Joni is genius, her work speaks to generations and she has a great talent of making listeners relate to her situations. She should be much higher. Her authenticity cannot be ignored.

This list is the worst.

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32 James Hetfield James Hetfield James Alan Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963. He is an American musician, singer and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica.

I voted James since Dave Mustaine is for some reason not on this list. Hetfield's lyrics are amazing. Just listen to Metal militia, ride the lighting, for whom the bell tolls, fade to black, escape, creeping death, master of puppets, the thing that should not be, welcome home (sanitarium), disposable heroes, leper messiah, blackened, and justice for all, eye of the beholder, one, the frayed ends of sanity, don't tread on me, or pretty much anything else to see what I mean. Despite that, I strongly suggest Megadeth's lyrics too.

I can say I'm disappointed he's so far down on the liste here... He's a magician. Nobody in this world can beat Bob Dylan (you heard me), but Jaymz is an artist in his own right, with topics ranging from politics 'halls of justice painted green, money talking' to the toll of war on veterans 'darkness, imprisoning me, all that I see - absolute horror. I cannot live, I cannot die, tied myself - body my holding cell' to drugs 'pain monopoly, ritual misery, chomp your breakfast on a mirror' to a mothers love 'mama she has taught me well, told me when I was young - son you life's an open book, don't close it when it's done' so in matter of diversity yet still maintaining his otherworldly lyrical ability, he is just the best. And this is beside the point, but come on who hasn't spent hours listening to his riffs and cleans?

Just look at songs like Fade to black, which describes depression perfectly, or One which lyrics are just intense and give you chills every time you hear the song. James is an amazing lyricist. Maybe not the best, but he belongs in the top 15 at least. And sorry for bad English

"The Thing That Should Not Be "
That song will most definitely make you think twice about going anywhere near the ocean.
Pure evil.

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33 Tim Mcllrath

"Life for you's been less than kind, so take a number, stand in line. We've all been sorry, we've all been hurt but how we survive is what makes us who we are. "

"hiding from the laughter in the closets of our lives, but the door hinges are sqeaking, letting in thin shards of light. And now a hand's extending outward, quiet comfort they invite. Do we dare take what they offer? Do we walk into the light? "

"a hero of war. Is that what they see? Just medals and scars? So damn proud of me? "

"do you still believe in all the things that you stood by before? Are you out there on the front lines or at home keeping score? "

"too much blood has flown from the wrists of the children shamed for those they cose to kiss? Who will rise to stop the blood? "

I could name a million more. This guy is a genius.

34 Gordon Lightfoot Gordon Lightfoot Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music. He is credited with helping to define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s.
35 Kris Kristofferson

"I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday"...
"Freedom's just another word for nothing' left to loose"...

Classic... And both from Bobbie McGee

"And there's nothing' short of dyin' That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of a sleepin' city sidewalk and Sunday mornin' comin' down."

Bless you Kris

36 W. S. Gilbert

WS Gilbert should be top! He was a poetical genius, rather than an ordinary songwriter! Paul Simon is great, but WS Gilbert is in another league to all the rest! - MikeFuller

37 Ryan Adams
38 Zack de la Rocha Zack de la Rocha Zacharias Manuel "Zack" de la Rocha (born January 12, 1970) is an American musician, poet, rapper, and activist best known as the vocalist and lyricist of rap metal band Rage Against the Machine from 1991–2000, and after the band's reunion in 2007 until their last show in 2011. He left Rage Against ...read more.
39 Jesse Lacey

Jesse lacey should be much higher on this list. His lyrics are incredible. Go listen to the devil and god are raging inside me.. you'll see what I'm talking about!

How on earth is Jesse Lacey all the way down here? I can't even pick an example of his best lyrics. Just Google literally any Brand New song.

I wish I could write like Jesse.

He's a Genius. 'enough said.
His lyrics play with words in dark, yet very clever ways that you probably wouldn't have thought about before.

40 Sixto Rodriguez Sixto Rodriguez Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, going only by his surname Rodriguez as his stage name, is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist born on July 10th, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan. ...read more.

Sadly, he is incredibly underrated. Many people who have heard him love his work, though. - gidlr

If you don't Know his work listen the song "Like Janis"..

41 Billy Joel Billy Joel William Martin Joel is an American singer-songwriter, composer and pianist. Commonly nicknamed the "Piano Man", he has been making music since the 1960s, releasing popular albums throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s.

Honesty has such great lyrics. I think billy joel would write an awesome musical. his lyrics go perfectly with the music he writes, he builds so much suspense and really makes you feel what he's saying

Should be #1. I don't know what weird inane criteria you guys are using for voting, but go listen to Vienna, And So it Goes, Honesty, or The Stranger and come back and tell me there are 40 better lyricists than him. I mean really.

Best. Lyricist. Ever. "And they're sharing a drink they call 'loneliness, ' but it's better than drink in' alone."

Greatest songmaker ever (that I have ever heard of). May not be the best lyricist but definitely up there with the big ones.

42 Guy Garvey

Justin Bieber?! Taylor Swift?! Guy Garvey writes POETRY

So I'm there,
Charging around with a juggernaut brow
Overdraft speeches and deadlines to make
Cramming commitments like cats in a sack
Telephone burn and a purposeful gait

When out of a doorway the tentacles stretch
Of a song that I know and the world moves in slow-mo
Straight to my head like the first cigarette of the day

And it's you and it's May
And we're sleeping through the day
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

Do I have time? A man of my calibre?
Stood in the street like a sleepwalking teenager?
No. And I dealt with this years ago
I took a hammer to every memento

But image on image like beads on a rosary
Pull through my head as the music takes hold
And the sickener hits, I could work till I break
But I love the bones of you, that I will never escape

And it's you, and it's May
And we're sleeping through the day
And ...more

Guy Garvey would have topped this list were he better known. He writes epics of the everyday, turning little, mundane vignettes into things of pure, exotic beauty. He is unrivaled.

43 Patti Smith Patti Smith Patricia Lee "Patti" Smith is an American singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist who became a highly influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses. V 1 Comment
44 Bono Bono Paul David Hewson, known by his stage name Bono, is an Irish singer-songwriter, musician, venture capitalist, businessman, and philanthropist. His original nickname was Bono Vox which means "big voice".

At times can be cliche but can paint beautiful pictures with his words. Check out "Running To Stand Still" for Bono at his absolute best.

Listen to 'bad' and 'one;...

45 Phil Anselmo Phil Anselmo Philip Hansen "Phil" Anselmo is an American musician who is best known as the former lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Pantera. He currently is the vocalist of heavy metal bands Down and Superjoint Ritual.
46 Kendrick Lamar Kendrick Lamar Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987) is an American rapper and songwriter. Raised in Compton, California, Lamar embarked on his musical career as a teenager under the stage name K-Dot, releasing a mixtape that garnered local attention and led to his signing with indie record label Top Dawg ...read more.

Kendrick Lamar is the most important artist of his generation because he delivers music from his soul whilst still appealing too young people, This guys delivery is also spot on you can feel the emotion in his voice

47 Regina Spektor Regina Spektor Regina Spektor is a Russian-born, American recording Artist. Born on the 18th of February she is 37 years in age. Best known for her meaningful, and joyful music, her best songs include, 'Samson' (2002), 'Eet' (2009) and 'The Call' (which was apart of the 2008 film 'The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince ...read more.

awesome ~

48 Corey Taylor Corey Taylor Corey Todd Taylor was born in December 8, 1973. He is an American musician, author, and actor best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the Nu-metal band Slipknot and hard rock/alternative metal band Stone Sour.

Lead vocalist of bands, Slipknot and Stone Sour. Corey can get pretty lyrical in all honesty. Slipknot's song Dead Memories, is one of the most melodic Nu Metal songs known to man. He also has great songs with Slipknot, such as Psychosocial, Vermilion Part one and two.

Listen to the lyrical genius that is everything on both parts of House Of Gold And Bones. It's obvious he should be up there with Roger Waters (who should be first)

Best lyricist of this genre.

49 Guy Clark
50 Craig Finn

Right up there with Mr. Bob Dylan. Craigs Lyrics are the best and most dense rock lyrics written in over 30 years. This man is a living legend.

Tied with Bob Dylan in my mind. Every time I listen to a song or an album by the hold steady (And when I listen to a song I almost always listen to a full album) I always notice something new. Every album is a deep and emotionally driven story. It takes time to get used to Craig's voice, but his lyrics are always gold.

A true genius, he can weave stories together referencing poets, song and historical events. Also has the best voice for singing them

Fantastic, visceral storytelling with situations and characters which are amazingly relatable. There is nothing to not like about Finn's work, whether it is solo, LFTR PLLR, and The Hold Steady. The only real shame about his work is that it is not more widely recognized by a larger audience.

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