Top 10 Best Lyricists of All Time

The Top Ten

1 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.

"The harmonicas play
The skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna
Are now all that remain"

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 will always be the first among equals, there are quite a lot of good lyricist and it all comes down to ones preferences

No one pens words the way dylan does

2 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.

While I would say Paul was the best singer, composer and melody writer in the beatles while George was the best guitarist John was the best at lyrics. some of the greatest lyrics ever can be found on his songs on rubber soul, help and the magical mystery tour album and the way he delivered them just gave it that extra edge that made those songs classics

3 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.

Roger Waters is an international treasure whose lyrics resonate from generation to generation. He will be rightfully remembered long after most popular musicians and writers have faded into oblivion.

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.

4 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 more.

It's all about storytelling mixing poetry with one's life and no one in my personal opinion can do it better than Marshall Matthers the Slim Shady...Eminem with his raging ability to rhyme and the versatile complexity of his stories not just serious notes but em's also one murderous clown who makes people laugh and murders them at the same time. I believe in fact I know it there's no one better and more deserving to be at number 1 other than EMINEM. P.s he don't need no top ranking to prove that!

Eminem's the ocean of lyrics, while bob Dylan is the swimming pool.

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

This guys word play & lyricism is out of the world & yet put him on no. 4,there should be another list for him like best lyricism in all the universe because if any other rapper tries to have a beef with him regardless he)/ she be of any universe Eminem is still gonna smash him.

5 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 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.

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

6 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 more.

Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle,
I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle,
I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike.
I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like.
(All this is meant in good humor. I love Freddy Mercury as much as the next guy, but I wouldn't call him the greatest lyricist of all time.) - Atham

Better and much more creative than anybody else in this list.

Okay, what the hell, Bohemian Rhapsody is not lyrically interesting at all. Putting words together that sound poetic but have no meaning is not as hard as it seems. - Idontreallycaretoomuch

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.

7 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 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?

His storytelling ability along with his flow remains unmatched till date.

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.

8 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

I wish I could vote twice. Bob Dylan might beat Paul Simon, but Paul is incredible as well. Check out The Dangling Conversation or Kathy's Song. Just two examples of how Paul can break down emotion to such a raw form and still sound incredibly poetic. Few have been able to express emotion better than this man. - Idontreallycaretoomuch

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

9 Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) Robert Anthony Plant (born 20 August 1948) 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

Are you kidding? I mean sure, led zepplins one of the greatest bands of all time but come on, his lyrics suck

10 Elliott Smith

There are some heavy hitters on this list; Dylan, Lennon, Cobain. But Elliott I feel is the most underrated. If you take the time to examine his art you will find a diamond amongst the cliches.

Elliott didn't just make great lyrics. He orchistrated every aspect of his music. 50 percent of what he did was lyrics. The beauty in him mediphors and the ammount of music he pumped out in a matter of a decade between solo work, in his band Heatmiser or collaborating with other artist. His music is timeless in a way that I can listen to it and still find myself mesmerized by it. It's a picture into a beautiful mind.

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.

The Contenders

11 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

Come together is not nonsensical, it's beautiful description of The Beatles reworked from a campaign song, which makes for two possible readings. It's a nice description of the fab four overall. - JoLeKosovo

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"

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

Definitely should be higher, seriously why is Kirk Cobain ranked higher.

Should rank higher

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"

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

Deserves to be top 5. Up there with Bob Dylan and John/Paul. Insanely stellar lyrics.

Whoa. Never expected him to be that high for an often overlooked singer. But I mean, far from undeserved.

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

Ian Anderson is a genius but you're clearly shoving your ignorance of other genres in our face. Too bad for you. - JoLeKosovo

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!

14 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 .

Plant Lennon, and Dylan are the only people who compare with Paul in lyrics - VeritusEro

I can understand Lennon or Dylan above Paul and other than no one. Paul is a very underrated songwriter. He didi wrote great songs in Beatles career, Get back, Got. A feeling, let it be and full Abbey road medley (Soke songs by John) he is no less than John and Dylan and absolutely above anyone 10 places ahead him

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.

The best form the best!

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

Bob's one phrase or sentence is worth some others' 20 phrases.

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

16 Neil Peart (Rush) Neil Ellwood Peart, (September 12, 1952 - January 7, 2020) was a Canadian musician and writer best known as the drummer and primary lyricist of the rock band Rush. Peart received numerous awards for his musical performances, including an induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983, making more.

Peart is one of the most gifted and literate lyricists in popular music. His prose is packed with clever wordplay and references to other great works of literature. Yet they don't come across as too intellectual - anyone can relate to them.

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.

I would say Tyler Joseph, but for some reason he isn't an option, so Peart is the next best thing.

17 David Bowie David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie (January 8, 1947 - January 10, 2016) was an English singer born in London, the son of a fundraiser and a waitress. He is credited for his experimental and creative musical discography which has won praise and accolades for many critics and fans. 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.

His lyrics painted great pictures and told great stories.

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

18 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 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.

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.

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

Riders On The Storm on its own should be enough to make this man number one. The entire LA Woman album essentially works as a suicide note written in poetic form. The greatest poetic lyricist of all time.

Weird scenes inside the gold mine... - Monsterz

He's the lizard king, he can do anything

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

20 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. 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)

The lyrics to the entire album 'New York' are just superb.

21 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? "

22 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.

The way he describes and narrates things is pretty uncommon, in a good way. Also, he has the ability to incorporate his great lyrics into catchy songs and I find that quite hard to do: not only is he a poet, he is also a talented musician. His songwriting abilities are insanely impressive.

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

Dig into his lyrics. It'll make you wanna listen to a song you've already listed to a hundred times, a hundred times 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.

23 George Harrison George Harrison (1943 - 2001) 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.

24 Nick Cave Nicholas Edward Cave (born 22 September 1957) is an Australian musician, singer-songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional film actor, best known as the frontman of the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Cave's music is generally characterized by emotional intensity, a wide variety more.

Absolute genius! Lyrics flow in a incredibly unique way, songs like 'Brother, my cup is empty', 'Red right hand', and 'Straight to you' show is prowess as a poet, not just as a musician. His lyrics are honest and personal, but also non-repetative so it feels like he is telling you a story each time you here him. Massively underrated in my opinion. Should be in the top 10 easily.

Just listen to the whole 'Murder Ballads'-Album - stories almost equal to E.A. poe. And some of his ballads like 'Straight to you' or 'Into my arms' contain words of incredible beauty. "And I don't believe in the existence of angels, but looking at you I wonder if that's true. But if I did I would summon them together and ask them to watch over you...".

Oh I also forgot to mention that his latest album Skeleton Tree is one of the most if not the most critically acclaimed albums of this year.

Why is Nick Cave so low? This singer songwriter is a genius

25 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.

26 Morrissey Steven Patrick Morrissey (born 22 May, 1959), known as Morrissey, is an English singer, songwriter and author, rose to prominence as the lead singer of The Smiths, an indie rock band - which was active from 1982 to 1987 . Since then, Morrissey has had a solo career making the top ten of the UK singles more.

Okay, I'm a big fan of the Beatles, the Stones, Pink Floyd, the Who and Led Zep. Let's face it, no one can do music like us British. The Americans just copied whatever went on in England, America did start punk with the Ramones though. But it wasn't until the late 80/90s when American developed their own tastes and invented grunge. Meanwhile in Britain, we were shoved with Britpop. Good music but the musicians were too phony. It was like the long haired glam rockers from the 70s (love Bowie by the way)! Indie rock in very much a British thing and one of the few 'real' bands who sung about real things and didn't do what everyone else was doing was the Smiths. Metal is nice and all (also invented by the British: Sabbath and Maiden), but the Smiths' lyrics were way more edgy and Morrissey was king of the 80s. He was a real person who you could talk to. Check out his lyrics on There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, Cementary Gates, Frankly Mr ...more

Surprised and disappointed he is not in the top 5, top 10 at least, along with Cohen. Even more shocking, Alex Turner above Morrissey. Arctic Monkeys are great, I own a couple of their albums and sure, I can't say I haven't swooned over some of his lyrics, but this placement is pretty disgraceful. Nonetheless, Morrissey is, in my mind, the best lyricist.
"In a river the color of lead
Immerse the baby's head
Wrap her up in the News Of The World
Dump her on a doorstep, girl"

How in the world is morrissey not number one. it's the best LYRICISTS of all time not the greatest musicians. tops of too dylan and all but morrissey is something different. he tells a story in the most literate of ways. a true genius and without a doubt the GREATEST LYRICIST OF ALL TIME

WOW. I actually thought he was gonna be top 5.

"I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving
England is mine, it owes me a living
But ask me why, and I'll spit in your eye
Oh, ask me why, and I'll spit in your eye
But we cannot cling to the old dreams anymore
No, we cannot cling to those dreams"

27 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.

Metallica is seemingly either very overrated or very underrated. I feel his lyrics are a strong point to the band. If you haven't heard their lyrics, I recommend Fade To Black, And Justice For All, Until It Sleeps, and The Unforgiven 1

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

28 Adam Duritz

Best poet of the 90s and on. A Dylan of his times.

Amazing writer. Absolutely brilliant.

Love his lyrics.

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.

29 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.
30 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.

Should be among the top 5.

Wow! Just wow! One of the best though now history belongs to the victors of salesmanship.

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.

31 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

32 Axl Rose William Bruce Rose Jr., better known as 'Axl Rose', is an American singer born on February 6, 1962, in Lafayette, Indiana. He Is the founder and lead singer of the hard rock band Guns N' Roses. He is a celebrated but controversial figure in the world of rock.

LOL do you know how this list is a joke because the man that wrote the lyrics
By himself to Guns N' Roses's BIGGEST 3 HITS (still heard on the radio today) Sweet Child O' Mine, November Rain and Welcome To The Jungle is not even in the top 200. Yet The Fall Out Boy Singer,Taylor Swift, and a slew of thugs that have no talent and somehow are popular called rappers are ahead of him. So the guy that wrote the lyrics to Estranged, Breakdown, One In A Million, Rocket Queen, Street Of Dreams, among many, MANY others doesn't make the top 200 but Eddie Vedar makes the top 60? ,The legend that had a big hand in writing Nightrain, Coma, The Garden, You Could Be Mine, Don't Cry but Ozzy makes the list what? (I love Sabbath but Geezer Butler wrote 90% or more of their lyrics) I'd put the man in the top ten but if you don't have him or Izzy in the top 25. The list is a joke.

Chinese democracy was a brilliant album
I loved street of Dreams
"All the love in the world couldn't save you
All the innocence inside"

He should be much much higher on this list This I know. He should be at least in the top 30, Axl Rose has one of the worst childhoods of any famous singer I know. He has a great range, can play the piano very, very well, And he never gave up on his dream of Gn'R. He could of just quit, or not come back after being gone for 10 years. I love Guns'N' Roses whether Slash is on the band or not. Rock on Axl, I hope he's still rocking decades from now, One of the greatest artists out there, in my mind at least. (If you don't agree listen to "November Rain" Or the album "Chinese Democracy") m/

The most underrated lyricist.

33 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.

34 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. 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"..

35 Nas Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, better known by his stage name Nas, is an American rapper and entrepreneur born on September 14, 1973 in New York City. His album, Illmatic, is considered to be one of the best rap albums of all time. He is also considered to be one of the best rappers of all time.

Greatest lyricist in hip hop history, and it would't even be close if not for Rakim. No idea how Eminem and 2pac are rated higher than him... must be name recognition. Dude is like Leonardo DaVinci with a mic the way he paints pictures with his words.

If talking simply lyrics, any genre, nobody comes close to Nas, Rakim and Kool G Rap, kids who suck off Eminem and Pac are ridiculous, if they only heard Nas' discography...

From weed smoking street dweller to thug poet, nobody has dropped as many jewels from words. What come first peace or the paper, before I had piece of paper, peace was in my favor.

How any rapper is ahead of Nas on this list is just insane. With Illmatic Nas wrote the bible of rap, showing others who came after how to paint a picture with you lyrics. Listen to "NY State Of Mind" or "One Mic" and I'll be very surprised if you can't picture what he says"

Chuck 98 and Nas 79? Oh come on people

36 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.

I don't know why she isn't higher up on this list?! Easily one of the best lyricists of all time. "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine" is the most iconic line in rock history.

More a poet than lyricist.

37 Serj Tankian Serj Tankian is a Lebanese-born Armenian-American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, poet, and political activist. He's best known for being the lead singer of the Armenian/American rock band System of a Down. After System of a Down's hiatus in 2006 he began to release more.

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.

38 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.
39 Craig Finn

An amazing package of clever one-liners and a mind boggling narrative touch.

Craig has the catchiest lyrics around his characters are out of real life's

The Dylan of GenX.

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.

40 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 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.

41 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.

42 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.

MJK is by far the best lyricists of the 90s to present day. Great performer and musician!

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.

He writes beautiful songs about his life and emotions as well as songs that reflect on society and religion and his views on them

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.

43 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.

44 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.

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.

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

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.

45 Don McLean Donald McLean III is an American singer-songwriter. He is best known for his 1971 song "American Pie", which was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972 and stayed put at 2 for 3 weeks in the UK.

Besides just American Pie the song, American Pie the album is testament enough to his lyrical craft. Beautifully poetic introspection. Not necessarily Dylan, or even Simon, standard, but so much better than 45

Literally a lyrical genius.

Lists are usually wrong, but the man who wrote American Pie languishing at 65 makes me want to hit all of you rap aficionados in the bollocks.

46 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

47 Kanye West Kanye Omari West is an American rapper, songwriter, and fashion designer. He was born on June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia. After West's parents divorced, him and his single mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. At the age of 10, West temporarily moved to Nanjing, China, because his mother was teaching more.

Why is HE on the list, come on people the guy is so over rated! He said "Rap is the new Rock'N'Roll, And I'm the best of the best." The dude ISN'T a good, never mind great, Lyricists! He writes meaningless lyrics... I can think of 10 better lyricists off the top of my head. (In no specific order. )

10. Nikki Sixx
9. Robert Plant
8. Axl Rose
7. Izzy Stradlin
6. Eddie Vedder
5. Jake E. Lee
4. Billy Joel
3. David Bowie
2. Jim Morrison
1. Jimi Hendrix

Hell even Taylor Swift is better! I mean I don't really like her music, But at least she's talented, And doesn't think she's better than anyone everyone before and after her... (I mean he named one of his albums "Yeezus"... REALLY KANYE?!?!

I'm just wondering if you have actually listened to him before writing this. - JoLeKosovo

48 Dave Mustaine David Scott "Dave" Mustaine (born September 13, 1961) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author. Mustaine is best known as a pioneer in Thrash Metal, being the former lead guitarist of Metallica before his dismissal in 1983, leading to finding and becoming the front man of his own more.

Why is he so low? come on this guy better than Hendrix

49 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 more.

Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City and To Pimp a Butterfly showcase some beautiful lyrical genius. In Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City, he goes thorugh his teen years in Compton and lays down some amazing personal lyrics while keeping a sense of universal morals. In To Pimp a Butterfly, he's just universal, talking about the story and situation of Black people in America from all standpoints. Profoundly human. - JoLeKosovo

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

50 Tom Paxton
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