Top 10 Greatest Songwriters of All Time
Everyone knows Dylan is number one, it doesn't really matter what this website says. Look at the number of other musicians who have done his songs. It's easier to name the ones who haven't! Peter, Paul, and Mary alone did several of his songs. Three of the Byrds' biggest hits were Dylan songs. Jimi Hendrix only did three covers in his career, and two of them (All Along the Watchtower, Like a Rolling Stone) were written by Dylan. There isn't a songwriter in history with an inventory to match his.
Michael Jackson is number one! Are you kidding me! Bob dylan is among the greatest poets of all time not to mention songwriters. No one comes close to him he wrote about ideas and subjects other songwriters didn't want to think about like the song hurricane. What he wrote was the truth which is an ugly thing but he managed to make it beautiful. You are out of your mind if you think anyone deserves to be ahead of him because Dylan is a poet and everything he wrote was perfect.
I am giving up on this site after seeing this. His songs are just songs they are poems that embody the whole word. He was considered the voice of his generation, the same generation that had the civil rights movement and Vietnam. Like a rolling stone is the most important song in the history of modern music. The reason he is so low has to be people don't know who he is anymore and because of that, to quote dr farnsworth "I don't want to live on this planet anymore"
The guy has influenced practically every songwriter from Lennon to Jack White, and US presidents have even made references to his lyrics in their very inauguration speeches. Not only did he teach the world that good songs don't have to be about broken hearts by writing lyrics that actually seem relevant, he also wrote some of the finest melodies ever in his unique, yet down-to-earth style. This guy should be number one, for ever!
On what OBJECTIVE criteria would Lennon or McCartney not be #1?... Record sales, # 1 hits? Just what? Since there is NO objective criteria on which they wouldn't be listed as #, there must be some other reason. I suggest it is this: since they are the obvious choice for # 1, it's always good to create controversy by picking someone else, as if this voter has some divine insight into songwriting that the rest of us mere mortals who actually vote with their wallets don't have. Since Lennon, Lennon/McCartney sold about 500 MILLION more records that Dylan sold, you do the math on who the better songwriter is.
Clever ploy by whoever put this list together, to "split" the Lennon-McCartney votes. This allows someone much less deserving to possibly be at the #1 spot, although either John or Paul should be at the top regardless. It is nice that George Harrison is at least recognized by the list though. Simply put; Lennon-McCartney songs have outsold and out-charted everybody else on this list COMBINED. Paul McCartney himself is the most successful musician of all time, period.
A great song is one I want to hear again and again. Period. Lennon's songs are such. So are McCartney's. The other songwriters on this list can't compete on this measure. They simply don't have the number of great songs
that Lennon has written. Don't let a mag like Rolling Stone push this garbage down your throat that Dylan was the best. With songs like Come Together, I am the Walrus, Instant Karma, A Day in the Life, there is no one who's been as creative as Lennon.
It appears that the vote-splitting is exactly what has happened, but if you combine Lennon/McCartney's percentages they become #1.
Freddie Mercury should in no way, shape, or form, be anywhere near the top ten of this list, though the list itself is poorly done.
Why would anyone split up Jagger/Richards, and where are Holland/Dozier/Holland?
He's so good, I am envious. I mean Yesterday in a dream, Let It Be in a dreams, Hey Jude, whilst driving to Julian Lennon, Here, There and Everywhere whilst waiting for John to wake up from bed, Mull of Kintyre, a love song about where he was living, Yellow Submarine, from a place between sleep and dream, Live and Let Die after being asked to write a song, I could go on and on and on.
He's just so effortless and he has perfect physical structure of songs in his mind. Each of his albums is the equivalent of another persons greatest hits, and he averages about one album per year since 20 years old.
I once read an internet article proposing that for a songwriter to achieve legendary status, he/ she has had to write 3 well known songs. So for example, Dolly Parton has, I will always love you, Jolene, and Nine to Five. Paul Simon (in Simon and Garfunkel), The Sound of Silence, Bridge Over Troubled Water and The Boxer. Those songwriters could be considered a legend, or more ...more
First of all, Paul McCartney is the most successful songwriter in history. His collaborations with John Lennon and solo work has sold more than all the others on this list combined, and yes that DOES include MJ, Freddie Mercury and all the rest put together. Each person's musical taste is their own, and they are entitled to it, but when you throw in Paul's singing career with The Beatles, wings, and solo, he is BY FAT the most successful musician in history.
McCartney no.5 and Dylan number 1..Wow! Quick,... name 2 songs penned by Dylan that were number one, then name 2 songs penned by McCartney that were number one. Oh, that's right... Dylan never wrote 2 number one songs. He wrote one in a 50+ year career. Impressive. McCartney penned about 30 number one songs..and Dylan's the better songwriter? Makes perfect sense to me. Look, the guys who make up lists like this are the equivalent of a short order cook evaluating surgeons. Stay in your lane.
Only 6st place? Please, are you kidding me...It feels like people voted for MJ just because he was maybe more known by name, though everyone knows that Paul was much more talented. His song writing will always be at the top. By writing songs like :yesterday, eleanor rigby, hey jude, let it be and much more. Even now he's still as sucessful as he was before. He deserves at least 3rd or even 2nd place.
One of the greatest songwriters of our generation, and easily one of the best ever! In terms of recognition, his captivating stage presence and dancing, I think, overshadows his gift for both singing and songwriting - gifts that make him one of my top favourite songwriters.
Michael Jackson not only wrote some of the best lyrics (which created universal anthems), but he also executed them with his unmatched signing talent in great triumph that is still felt today and forever
The reason why he is the best songwriter is very simple: he wrote loads of songs that have a connection with him and ALL of his fans. They are all the better taken forward to the epicenter of Michael's creations. Moreover, in terms of quantity, Michael has still so many songs sleeping in vaults that will show in the future that he was still the King Of Songwriting. Wait for songs like "Breed", "ays in Gloucestershire" or "World Of Candy"!
Michael's unreleased songs better than others' greatest hits... Sorry, but MJ is God of music. He wrote gentle, painful, love songs, pop, rock, soul, gospel, charity songs pefectly. These songs make you happy, make you cry, give you faith and force. Messages open your eyes, mind and heart and touch your soul.
He wrote many many important songs: We are the world, Earth song, They don't care about us, Black or white, Heal the world, On the line, Keep the faith
Michael's own solo written and produced tracks were always instant hits. Don't Stop til You Get Enough, You Rock My World, and Black Or White are just some examples of his greatness. Michael has written a few tacky songs, but of course never released them on an album and only gave us his best!
Unknown by many, Pals lyrics and melodies are a work of creative genius. The pop success of 'Take on me' left many believing a-ha were no more than a pop band, but later albums, and even other tracks from a-ha's debut album "Hunting High and Low" demonstrated that there was more to this composer than met the eye.
9 a-ha albums, 5 Savoy albums and a number of collaborations later, Pal Waaktaar-Savoy is a consummate writer, capable of setting a phrase or refrain in such a way as to twist emotion downwards, or send it soaring.
He is, most definitely, my number 1 song writer.
Absolutely no one better at evoking emotions with lyrics and music. Two other outstanding musicians completing a ha and having Morten Harket's voice to work with.. no singer better at interpreting the music written for him. Pal has written a lot of different styles of music but everything he does has such an original sound, never losing sight of the melody or meaning of the song. This song writer is a great observer of the 'human condition' and always writes with such insight and sincerity.
Love your work and attention to detail… a hallmark of a ha 's timeless music…. truly beautiful and inspiring.
Keep writing… you have a gift millions of people have enjoyed and continue to appreciate.
When I listen to Pål's songs, mostly sung by Morten Harket (wow! ), I can only be in awe of his amazing talent. How he paints pictures with lyrics and then frames them in soaring melodies. It just touches the deepest part of my soul... and I wonder what his soul looks like being able to come up with so many GREAT songs! They will never ever ever bore me!
Every song leaves you feeling, thinking something different and I never got bored of listening. I hope Pal shares lots more of his gift & talent with his fans through his music. I for one will never stop listening!
I don't take this list seriously just because of the fact that some guy from a-ha is number 1. Then there are other people in the top ten who either don't deserve to be there or no one knows. Then you have legendary songwriters that are so low on this list like Pete Townshend (55? ). All-in-all, if you're doing legitimate research on great songwriters, don't pay much attention to this list.
Whaaat? Even rolling stone doesn't count him as a songwriter. This list is more like "my favorite singers" or "best singers" but not best songwriters. The only thing he could write is " I AM THE GOD " come on even a 5 year old kid could write something around his lyrics. I love his voice and he is my favorite 'singer ' but not a songwriter. And I can't explain to my self my mickael jackson is num 2 but bob dylan is num 3 :/
Guilt stains on my pillow
Blood on my terraces
Torsos in my closet
Shadows from my past
Life is real
Life is real
Life is real, so real
Sleeping is my leisure
Waking up in a minefield
Dream is just a pleasure dome
Love is a roulette wheel
Life is real
Life is real
Life is real, oh yeah
Success is my breathing space
I brought it on myself
I will price it
I will cash it
I can take it or leave it
Loneliness is my hiding place
What more can I say
I have swallowed the bitter pill
I can taste it, I can taste it
Life is real
Life is real
Life is real
Music will be my mistress
Loving like a whore
Lennon is a genius
Living in every pore
These are lyrics Freddie wrote and sung beautifully in the song Life is Real, which was made as a tribute to the late John Lennon in 1882, two years after Lennon's death. Sadly, the song was released on their least selling album, and it didn't ...more
Freddie was amazing songwriter: Bohemian Rhapsody, Don't stop me now, Love of my life, Death on two legs, Innuendo, Crazy little thing called love, It's a hard life, Mr. Bad guy, Love me like there's no tomorrow, Princes of the universe...and a lot more.
Maybe for some it takes a while to realise what the words he transformed in songs mean, but when you get their meaning, they make you cry every time you listen to them. Sang or not. Some dispute his genius, but there's nothing to argue about. He just wrote a part from what humans feel. Just that simple, to get people crying or at least be moved by some words. Come on guys, check that ballads' meaning, you'll get what I'm blabbering here. You'll not lose your time, just gain something instead
Awesome lyrics, beautiful melodies. Creates so much emotion with his songs. His music ranges from classical to hard rock.
I love all of his compositions! He is a genius! He was born to do music and to give us emoitions through music!
Best at writing at any type of song E. G ballad or heavy or even classical.
Yes, let's run through the list of people who have done her songs. Aretha (Natural Woman), Dave Mason (Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow), James Taylor (You've Got a Friend, among others), Grand Funk Railroad (Locomotion), Steve Lawrence (Go Away Little Girl), the Monkees (Pleasant Valley Sunday), the Beatles (Chains), the Shirelles (Love Me Tomorrow), etc, etc, etc. I challenge anyone to come up with a list of songs written by anyone above her (save for Dylan and the Beatles) that can equal Carole King.
This list is a joke! I can't even believe the names I am seeing on this list! Has anyone on here ever heard of Bob Dylan? Townes Van Zandt? Leonard Cohen? Paul Simon?... I can understand why you would have Carole King, Billy Joel, Freddie Mercury, and Michael Jackson on here, and I do like Keane, but this is really a joke. Go back to elementary school for a few more years and try again!
A guy from Bon Jovi and a guy from Keane are ahead of this woman?
She wrote Tapestry for gods sake! Just think of all the legends who have sung her songs, Aretha Franklin etc.
It is disgusting that Pete Townshend is ranked 59 on this list. He is easily in the top ten for the list of greatest songwriters in the history of popular music. He pretty much wrote every Who song, including every song for their two rock operas. And then I see the nobodies that are ahead of him on this list. These nobodies wish that at the end of their careers they can have a hint of relevance in music history, whereas Pete will never come close to being forgotten. In my unbiased opinion, The Who are the third greatest band of all time, right after The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, and, although the other three members are very important as well, if Townshend wasn't a key member of that band, they might not even be on the list of the 50 greatest bands of all time. That's how important his songwriting was to the band. A genius of a songwriter and a genius of a musician. Seriously, come on people! Wake up!
It's mind-boggling how Pete Townshend isn't in the Top 10. Pinball Wizard, Behind Blue Eyes, the entire album Quadrophenia, the entire album Tommy, etc. There's no excuse for not voting for him.
Townshend is the best. The first person in rock to combine abandon with intellect and make it work in spectacular fashion. And his solo work equals his greatness with the group, a rare feat indeed. Music and lyrics are of the same incredible standard and his performance prowess seals the deal. Only Hendrix can stand on similar ground.
Pete is definitely one of the greatest songwriters of our time! Have none of you ever heard, "Blue, Red, and Grey? " That song helped me cope with depression and anxiety, he -saved- my life. Pete is a bloody genius and I hope that one day the world can truly appreciate this lovely man.
On the Top Tens list of singer/songwriters, which is much more legit than this bogus list, he is deservedly in the top ten, at number six.
Paul Simon is a lyrical genius, providing tunes such as Slip Slidin' Away, and has some amazing arrangements. I am shocked to see how low he is on this list.
The sound of Silence, america, the dangling converstion, I am a rock, Flowers never band with the rain fall... Enough Said.
In my opinion, Paul Simon deserves to be in the TOP TEN.
Great melodies and good lyrics.
He deserves to be number one. Of course, there's the monumental 'Stairway to Heaven, ' but apart from that, there are other, far lesser known songs like Achilles Last Stand and Carouselambra (they're really really poetic). There's also the breadth of his songwriting, ranging from outpourings of longing such as 'Ten Years Gone, ' to songs like Black Dog and Trampled Underfoot, which are rife with innuendos. And then, of course, there are Led Zep's ten minute epics
I can't believe he isn't higher! Listen to the lyrics of their later works. Kashmir, 10 years gone, Carouselambra, All of my Love, Achillies Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, NO Quarter, he was and is a god dang poet! All of those songs have a deep hidden meaning and when you find out what they actually mean it hits you just how incredible he really was. he's a man out of time, and really deserves more credit for his deep poetic lyrics.
I really can't sum up all my feelings for this great songwriter, he is deep in an emotional way, his music touches the most intimate vibes of the human kind, no matter what age, language, gender you are, you will feel related to his writing. His melodies are in a way melodic and catchy, they are sometimes dramatic and intense, the melodies speak for themselves. There is no song of Tim that I don't enjoy.
He talks about so many things, not only love and lost, the path of the human being growing old, the modern world issues, how people change, how you loose friends, how your loved one has become a stranger to you. I love Tim in so many ways that I can't describe, his lyrics have changed my life for the better, they took me from the darkest places and showed me some light. Tim, you are magnificent!
I run out of words every time I have to talk about this amazing lyricist. He has a god-given gift with words, he's a total workaholic that loves music and you can sense that in his songs. He knows exactly how to go straight to your heart writing songs that describe your own feelings in a way not even yourself could do. His lyrics are very deep and dark but they always have a sense of hope that warms your heart. He's a real genius, he often locks himself in his studio to write non stop for 12 hours not because he has to, but because he feels the need to. I was lucky enough to have the chance to tell him in person that he's the best songwriter in the entire world, he just smiled shyly not really believing my words, but I'm glad there're thousands of us that know for sure he is.
Tim has the power to say the most complicated emotions in the simplest of words! He has the gift of moving hearts with his words. It there is one person who really knows about human emotions and human condition, that's him. He might not be that well known because he is not into the whole rockstar culture and the high life, but he's got the ability to move thousands of people with his lyrics and that's why from a 14 year old to a 50 year old weeps at his lyrics at concerts and behind their closed doors. Tim Rice Oxley is a modern maestro... Or as we say MaesT. R.O... He truely deserves to be on the list of the best lyricist of this century!
Tim is a great songwriter in all aspects. His melodies are very touchy and emotional, he can express his feelings in the harmonies of his songs, his musical arrangements are very well-worked, and his lyrics are so deep and honest, I guess he can touch every human's soul when he writes a song. I'm very proud of being his fan, he is one of the only musicians who can save the music of this generation. His art is so beautiful and so human, he is an inspiration for me and for a lot of other young songwriters, you know, he's our maestro.
It just seems wrong to have Joni Mitchell sandwiched between someone named Tamer Hosny and someone named Nick Cave.
Hands down Number One. Better material than over rated Dylan.
I'm shocked, no one voted for this dashingly brilliant guy. He is the most inspirational artists of the 20th century, TONES of today's bands just owe him - music, style (hey, J-Rock luvers, visual key was his invention))) - EVERYTHING. At least he deserves this for Ashes to Ashes)))
Cobain is the perfect songwriter. He took rock music back to it's roots and performed with pure rock spirit Hendrix' style. He had a way to use words in a very powerful, deep way. If Bukowsky had been a rock'n rolla, he would've done something similar.
With "Smells like teen spirit" he somehow managed to bring rock music back to the mainstream, while creating the ultimate pop song wich, ironically, is a sharp critic to pop culture and vain entertainment. He could write a classic song and at the same time revolutionize a music scene. If he'd still be alive, he'd be as top as Lennon and McCartney in pop music history.
He is one of the most tragic stories in music history. He was mentally and musically gifted and the fact he could overcome a bad childhood to show that is credit. If he lived longer I am confident he would be in the top three. Much more humble than the likes of McCartney. His surreal but heavy sounds spoke to many
Kurt was a troubled guy, but because of that it made him one of the greatest song writers of all time. In dave Grohls words "he could take something that would take me an hour to explain and put it in two words". It's sad to see him so far down here at 31.
Part of his genius was his ability to write great songs with meaning and an edge. The voice of his generation (whether he liked it or not).
Billy Joel has more talent in his pinky then many artists considered to be great by today's standards and NOBODY can tell a story through their songs like billy Joel. I am a teenager in high school and I listen to Billy Joel daily. My other recommendation is Elton John.
My favorite songs that he made, are Piano Man, The Entertainer, Angry Young Man, Running on ice, My Life, Honesty, New York State of Mind, And Say Goodbye to Hollywood; Billy Joel should be # 3 on the list. he's AWESOME!
One of the greatest song writers of all time. He is the only singer I feel like that has truly written his life in his songs. Each song is like a scene or moment of his life. Just amazing.
He is really good at writing songs.
How in the world can Richie Sambora be among the top ten songwriters of all time? He's not even the best songwriter in his band, and while his band is OK, they're not even top ten material themselves. He's a decent guitar player, but nowhere near top ten. All I can guess is a bunch of high school girls are voting for him cus he's cute or something. I'm pretty much mystified by this one.
No, we don't all know that Sambora is the greatest guitar player of all time, and if you check the list of Top Ten guitarists of all time, you'll find he's not even in the top ten. Nor is he a great songwriter. I mean, I can write on this page that I am president of the United States. That doesn't make it true.
Just another over rated non entity who has contributed nothing to modern music. Looks silly too with that dumb cowboy hat that he wore for years.
Richie is so awesome! Not only has he contributed to a majority of Bon Jovi's songs, but his solo stuff is amazing!
In my opinion second only to Bob Dylan. Neil Young is absolutely amazing when it comes to songwriting. No one stands for rock n' roll more than this guy. Shame people don't recognize him that much nowadays
Neil young is the best songwriter and singer that I know of. What kind of person would put him at so low? His voice and songs are wonderful. He should be in the top ten.
Neil Young behind Nick Jonas and Taylor Swift? Wow, I guess he's lucky he beat out Bieber. Seriously, how many of you people voting on this site have reached puberty?
Trapped on an island with only one artists' complete catalog to listen to for the rest of your life, it HAS to be Neil Young. Says the 63 year old guy.
Just fantastic! Every word, every sound, and every rhyme flow naturally! He is outstanding at what he does!
Sorry to read about his son, that's terrible...
Writing a song? It's a limiting term!
A deep energy ready to explode!
He wrote some of the greatest songs of all time.
He may not be able to shred on the guitar, but James is the most gifted all-around metal musician of all time
So wheres ronnie james dio?
He writes poetry
Leonard has written one of the most covered songs in recent years, Hallelujah. Think about that.
Better than anyone else on this list. Should be on the top.
Mr. Cohen created songs for 6 decades. He tops them all.
While normally I would vote for Lennon, McCartney, or Dylan, Brian is simply too low. His songs are incredibly complex and beautiful. Just listen to Pet Sounds and Smile. He's a genius who unfortunately went under the radar before he put out his magnum opus because he was a depressed mentally ill man who was being taken advantage of.
Brian is number one of a small group of true geniuses in "pop-music", judged from pure musicality. With Paul McCartney in second place or maybe in a shared top position. The scales tip slighly in Brian's favour, in my opinion, due to his great to excellent work in recent, mature years. Though moderately successful, his work since 1988's "Brian Wilson" has been sadly by-passed by much of the public. He deserves better, a grand revival.
Brian's specialty is writing albums like Pet Sounds or SMiLE, but, those albums are made up of great songs. Surf's Up, Heroes and Villains, God Only Knows, Don't Worriy Baby? This guy should be right up there with Lennon, McCartney, and Dylan.
Music today wouldn't be the same without him. One of the few real game changers in music history.
24TH? DISGRACE. Roger Waters is literally the greatest songwriter of all time. Maybe tied with Bob Dylan and John Lennon. He made some of the greatest albums of all time with Pink Floyd, with so many dark meanings behind each album. He's even anti-semitic, and I'm Jewish, but I don't care. This man is an absolute genius. Just the songs Time, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Mother, Hey You, and Brain Damage/Eclipse alone should bring him into the Top 3.
I think this list would be quite different if everybody voting took some time to listen to the writing of Waters. There are a lot of great song writers out there, but Roger has a very unique way of making power- and meaningful lyrics which blends in perfectly with the music resulting in the best constructed songs of all time. Furthermore his solo career and work with Floyd consists of albums, which are to be considered as a combined product of music and not just separat songs. These factors makes Roger Waters the best song writer ever.
24th? This dude went from Walk with me Sydney to Dark Side of the Moon. His work is definitely to the same caliber as Bob Dylan & Lennon-McCartney. His lyrics explore mental health, war, loneliness & corruption. He pushed the boundaries of what a concept album can be & simultaneously sold an insane amount of LPs which shows how commercial his work is while also keeping it sophisticated & profound.
! How is Roger Waters at 18? He wrote some of the most brilliant yet sad songs of all time. Nothing has never affected me so emotionally like this before. I your not voting for Roger Waters, listen to The Wall and you will understand the true brilliance of his song writing.