Most Influential Songwriters of All Time

The musicians who, by the force of their writing, have changed the way we view music and, quite often, life.

The Top Ten Most Influential Songwriters of All Time

1 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.

Johns lyrics are the most poignant, unflinchingly self reflective, other worldly and cutting edge. He is my favorite of all time. closely rivaled by Paul Simon who also writes other worldly songs as well My two choices..."Across the Universe" and "Only Living Boy in New York".

His most influential song is certainly Imagine. Others include In My Life and Strawberry Fields Forever. - PetSounds

Only a delusional Freddie Mercury lover could call John Lennon "overrated". Thank God there are The Beatles towering at #1 to keep Queen fans in their place.

Across The universe, Imagine, And your Bird Can sing, Sexy Sadie, It won't be Long, Nowhere Man, Strawberry Fields, Walrus, All you Need Is Love, Benefit of Mr. Kite, Bungalow bill, Dear Prudence, Revolution, Come Together. What kind of ignorant dunce would moronically label this genius overrated? Pity the fool!

2 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 second most covered artist of all time he inspired and influenced so many people such as Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon his ability to reinvent himself has caused him to produce number one albums in six decades. - liamh1381

The one and only song writer who got a noble price for his work

Actually, after getting past his voice, I am now a big fan of his music. Should have put him higher. - PetSounds

His voice puts off many but often the expression and emotion fit the world weary, battle-scarred nature of his songs. Anyway, glad you saw past that to appreciate his art. Unfortunately it's not accessible for everyone - Billyv

Also very underrated as a singer, 2 great love songs in Lay Lady Lay and Love minus Zero - No limit

3 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 .

In terms of success how could you not choose Paul? Also you have to remember he has written some of the most recorded songs in history including the number 1 recorded song in history with Yesterday. Also his appeal rivals Dylan although Dylan was and is a great songwriter and should be in the top 10 you can surely argue that Paul deserves the number 1 spot.

Lennon or McCartney, The Beatles are the most influential ever!

It was a toss-up between Lennon and McCartney for the top spot. But Paul holds the first two slots on the TheTopTens Best Beatles Songs list with Hey Jude and Let It Be. Not to mention the most covered song of all time in Yesterday. - PetSounds

No Debate, He just simply make my days of life, and maybe your days...

4 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.

I'm more a queen fan in fact, but in songwriting I think bowie would beat them anyway...

What isn't he awesome in I wonder =D

5 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.

Australia's prince of darkness. Has written some of the most beautiful but dark songs ever!

Has produced tons of music able to influence people and men.

One of the most prolific author of the last decades

More than 40 years of creativity!

6 Freddie Mercury 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.

Love, love me do
You know I love you
I'll always be true
So please, love me do
Whoa, love me do
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I'm easy come, easy go
A little high, little low
Anyway the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me, to me...

Is there any question?

Umm, yes there is. What kind of comparison is this, one of Paul and John's weakest works against one of Freddie's greatest?
Just as well I might say:
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
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
Is there any question?
Also, basing this just on their lyrical writing skills is ridiculous. In terms of musicality, Paul beats Freddie any day of the week. - Idontreallycaretoomuch

He was much more creative, experimental than Paul McCartney and John Lennon together. He created a lot of amazing and timeless songs is a lot of genre, not just pop/rock as McCartney and Lennon.

He is underrated as a songwriter, but he was amazing! Never the same, always experimental. Much much better than Paul McCartney.

Much better than Paul McCartney/John Lennon together.

7 Brian Wilson Brian Douglas Wilson is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for being the multi-tasking leader and co-founder of the Beach Boys.

Progressive genius - greatest producer of all time, greatest pop songwriter of all time - could neglect all rules there are to songwriting and come up with incredibly catchy tunes. - Idontreallycaretoomuch

The album Pet Sounds is Brian's greatest contribution to popular music. It includes the beautiful God Only Knows. But his most famous and influential song is, without a doubt, Good Vibrations, slated for release on the cancelled SMiLE project. - PetSounds

The one songwriter who Lennon and McCartney thought they had to try extra hard to keep up with.

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.

As a duo with Art Garfunkel, he crafted materpieces such as The Sound of Silence and Bridge Over Troubled Water. After they split, Simon had a successful solo career. - PetSounds

Beyond brilliant. a true cutting edge pioneer. The most beautiful lyric and music of all time!

Insecure, neurotic genius. Hardly a crap song in his repertiore

9 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.

Totally underrated... Should be top 5!

10 Buddy Holly Buddy Holly, born Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959) was an American musician and singer-songwriter who was a central figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. He was a rising star when a tragic plane crash struck him down at age 22. more.

The Beatles are one of the many groups he influenced, and The Crickets were one of the first true bands in rock 'n' roll. He was with us far too short of a time. - PetSounds

The Contenders

11 Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana and passed away on June 25, 2009. He donated (at least) a remarkable 500,000,000 dollars to charity. Michael is also known as The King of Pop (a title given to him by Elizabeth Taylor) or under more.

Can't say I'm a fan, but there's no denying his influence. - PetSounds

He has definitely changed peoples' lives! - funnyuser

12 John Denver Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, activist and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, starting in the 1970s.

His songs never fail to lift the spirit. Put him on when you're down. He'll raise you up. - PetSounds

Highly underrated. His songs are so poetic and inspirational. - DieGedankenSindFrei

13 Chuck Berry Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. He died on 18 March 2017.

With songs such as Johnny B. Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen, and Rock and Roll Music, he paved the way for rock 'n' roll to grow even bigger. - PetSounds

14 Kurt Cobain 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.

He hits me he hits you he hits most of the world

15 Pete Townshend Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead guitarist and songwriter for the rock band The Who.

Nobody captured teenage angst like Pete Townshend. And he could communicate it succinctly as in a song like "The Kids Are Alright" or "I Can't Explain", or delve deeply into the teenage psyche as he did in the double album Who masterpiece, "Quadrophenia" A lyrical and musical genius. Ask anybody!

No problems with this list

Wrote songs like you wouldn’t believe.

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

He's Canadian gotta go with my countryman! - Curti2594

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

Clearly number one!


18 Elton John Sir Elton Hercules John CBE is an English singer, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date.

To the person who posted 'He didn't write any of his songs'... crawl back under your rock. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, handed them to Elton & within 1/2 hour, Elton had composed the whole song from start to finish, all the arrangements, everything PLUS he plays them on the piano and SINGS them. I heard Elton say in one interview that he composed the music to one of his songs in 10 minutes.

Shows you no NOTHING about Sir Elton John! Bernie Taupin is Elton's lyricist - he has been since Elton started making music. Bernie writes the lyrics and Elton composes the melody in 30 MINUTES! Plus Elton does all the instrumentation for his songs. He's a MUSICAL GENIUS!

And his lyricist, Bernie Taupin.

He didn't write any of his songs

19 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.

There isn't absolutely no way that the lyrics he wrote from Medley to The Final cut will ever be topped by another lyricist in the history of popular music. Especially the lyrics from Dark side of the Moon, which are in great part responsible for the album still selling five thousand copies every week in the US alone.

Listen to the entire the wall and try to tell me this man isn't the best songwriter of all time

Main songwriter for Pink Floyd. He wrote all of the songs for Wish You Were here, Dark Side of The Moon, and The Wall, the latter being a concept album and a DOUBLE album, meaning that it was on 2 CDs.

the greatest

20 Ray Davies Raymond Douglas "Ray" Davies is an English musician. He was the rhythm guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for The Kinks, which he led with his younger brother, Dave.

I don't think people understand his Influence.
See My Friends, the first song with indian sound, You Really Got Me, all the charchters songs...There is no question.

No question. Ray is one of the best.

Why he is so low? shoulb be at least in the top 10

21 John Lydon John Joseph Lydon, also known by his former stage name Johnny Rotten, is an English singer, songwriter, and musician.

Not only did he pen many of the songs that brought Sex Pistols to stardom, he also completely turned music and the basic structure of songwriting on its head with Public Image Limited, MULTIPLE times. With each new release, even up to 2015's What the world needs now... there's always something new and innovative, and his evolution of songwriting from pistols to where he is now, is a transformation that very few musicians have accomplished

22 James Taylor James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
23 Barry Gibb Barry Alan Crompton Gibb is a British singer, songwriter and record producer who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the group Bee Gees, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed groups in the history of popular music.

Dude is so awesome with just the lyrics he has written for others.

24 Carole King Carole King is an American composer and singer-songwriter. She is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the USA, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999. King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making more.
25 Lou Reed
26 Robbie Williams Robert Peter Williams is an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a member of the pop group Take That from 1990 to 1995 and again from 2009 to 2012. He has also had commercial success as a solo artist.

Robbie Williams is crap

27 Tom Waits Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits, born December 7, 1949 is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. more.

Pure genius classic albums under his belt since the 70's

28 Noel Gallagher Noel Thomas David Gallagher is an English musician, singer, songwriter and guitarist. He served as the lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and principal songwriter of the rock band Oasis.

If its influence we are talking about, noel should be high on this list. Think of the people who would not have been successful without noel. Hell, he even had a name for this! 'noel rock' legend and top guy

Number 50? Should be way higher. He wrote 95% of Oasis' songs, and sang 15%. And in those 15%, managed to be just as good as his brother. Noel is a legend and deserves to be way higher.

29 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.

He's definitely as great and talented as Lennon and McCartney!
An underrated talent that deserves to be higher than 28!

30 Jimmy Page James Patrick Page is an English musician, songwriter, and record producer who achieved international success as the guitarist and founder of the rock band Led Zeppelin.
31 Jim Morrison James Douglas "Jim" Morrison was an American singer, songwriter, and poet best remembered as the lead singer of the Doors.
32 Steve Harris Stephen Percy "Steve" Harris is an English musician and songwriter, known as the bassist, occasional keyboardist, backing vocalist, primary songwriter and founder of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden.

He wrote so many great songs solo

33 Taylor Swift Taylor Alison Swift is an American singer-songwriter. more.

Don't be ludicrous! 2D lyrics and auto tuned vocals! - shawnwalker

34 Keith Richards Keith Richards is an English musician—primarily a guitarist—singer, songwriter, best-selling memoirist, and founding member of the rock band The Rolling Stones.
35 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.
36 Gene Clark Harold Eugene "Gene" Clark was an American singer-songwriter and founding member of the folk rock band the Byrds.
37 Dr. Luke
38 Burt Bacharach
39 Billie Joe Armstrong Billie Joe Armstrong is an American musician, singer, songwriter and actor who is best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Green Day, which he co-founded with Mike Dirnt.

His lyrics touches soul...

Listen to
Jesus Of Suburbia
Christie Road
Good Riddance
Or pretty much any green day song. - MojoSpaederman

40 Woody Guthrie Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie was an American singer-songwriter and musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional, and children's songs, along with ballads and improvised works.

Great songwriter who had the courage to fight for justice, freedom and democracy

41 Ian Curtis Ian Kevin Curtis (15 July 1956 – 18 May 1980) was an English musician and singer-songwriter. He is best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the post-punk band Joy Division. more.
42 Robert Plant 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.
43 Hal David
44 Bernie Taupin
45 Mick Jagger Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger is an English singer, songwriter, and actor, best known as the lead vocalist and a co-founder of the Rolling Stones.
46 Moby Moby is an American musician, who has produced inventive new styles to various subgenres of electronic music, inspired by 1950's gospel as much as by modern rock, and musicians from New Order to David Bowie. more.

I was watching for this one, PositronWildhawk. - PetSounds

47 Robert Del Naja
48 Warren Zevon Warren William Zevon was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician. Zevon's most famous compositions include "Werewolves of London", "Lawyers, Guns and Money", "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" and "Johnny Strikes Up the Band", all of which are featured on his third album, Excitable Boy.

Very underrated, all artist from Dylan to Springsteen thought the world of Zevon and his music! The artist artist!

49 John Phillips
50 David Foster David Walter Foster is a Canadian musician, record producer, composer, songwriter, and arranger, who has won 16 Grammys.

AKA "The Hit Man".
Only Lennon/McCartney's compositions have sold more in popular music, because Elvis did not write much, and MJ only wrote a moderate number of his own songs.
Foster is in the neighborhood of 500 million in sales.

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