Best Storytelling Songwriters and Teams

This is intended to be people who wrote & recorded several songs that tell good, creative, engaging Stories (a bit more than, for example "I love you a lot"), not necessarily great works of technical musicianship or vocals, though performance and delivery do increase the quality. Looking for somewhat cohesive literal stories here, not magnificent envocation of images and emotion alone. I'm stating the list with those who immediately come to my mind with the hope that others will add many more artists and with the likelihood that I will add more, too. Initially, the exact order isn't as crucial as trying to include some of the best and most prolific, and hopefully some often overlooked artists who recieved a reasonable amount of popularity will be added.

The Top Ten Best Storytelling Songwriters and Teams

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.

Yes, his songs have well written stories. Example- Hurricane, Like A Rolling Stone, The Times They Are Changing. - zxm

Tangled Up In Blue, Lily Rosemary and The Jack Of Hearts, Isis, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll... - Billyv

One of those who drove the genre into mainstream popularity. - Billyv

He is the real Boss of songwriters, narrative or otherwise.

2 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.

"Let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together. I've got some real estate here in my bag. So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner's pies, and walked off to look for America."

You know how long it took me to realize those lyrics don't rhyme? It's a masterpiece. - PetSounds

Classic! Excellent choice to source a quote. This song captures so much. - Billyv

How about the haunting other worldliness of "The Only Living Boy in New York"?

3 Harry Chapin Harry Forster Chapin was an American singer-songwriter, humanitarian, and producer best known for his folk rock and pop rock songs, who achieved worldwide success in the 1970s and became one of the most popular artists and highest paid performers.

"Oh I've got something inside me to drive the princess blind
There's a wild man wizard he's hiding in me,
Illuminating my mind..."

"Sometimes words can serve me well, and sometimes words can go to hell
For all that they do..." - Billyv

You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly
She took off to find the footlights
And I took off to find the sky

Awesome imagery...

4 Jim Croce James Joseph Croce was an American folk and rock singer-songwriter. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and singles. His songs "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle" reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Jim's evocative words brought visions to your mind that made you smile, no matter what the source topic was...writing about his soon-to-be-born son (Time in a Bottle), Big Jim (You don't mess around with Jim), lamenting a lover that wasn't up for real love (Thursday), or reflecting like a 50 year old guy in a 29 year old guy's body (Age)...Croce's lyrics touched your soul. Few songwriters ever had this kind of talent. The music world in 1973 lost a man who would of filled our ear for years with many more beautiful songs. Cherish what he (and Maury) left for us...3 albums of priceless memories and stories.

Every word that Jim sang could be understood. His voice was incredible! Still very popular, even though he died 42 years ago! He is a legend for sure!

All I need to say is: "Time In A Bottle". Pure poetry and storytelling right there. - Britgirl

And such a cool character and persona that's consistently portrayed in his work. - Billyv

I believe that up there will Denver Simon and Dylan, Croce remains a legend in the works of music. - Beatlesboy9

5 David Bowie
6 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.


7 Kris Kristofferson
8 Leonard Cohen
9 Bernie Taupin/Elton John
10 Lou Reed

The Contenders

11 Lennon/McCartney

I prefer this one - Ananya

12 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.

Piano Man, Honesty, For the Longest Time, The Entertainer, The Downeaster Alexa, Matter of Trust, etc. A damn poet. - truckturner

I love Billy Joel's Music. The song Scenes from an Italian Restaurant basically describes me and my love toward music. - Beatlesboy9

No one speaks to me like Billy!

Definitely should be top 5

13 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.

My pleasure, Billy. I also added Billy Joel. ("Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" is a great example of his storytelling capabilities. ) Henley/Frey is a good choice as well, although I didn't add them or any others. - PetSounds

I agree Billy Joel belongs too, just didn't want to be too redundant in my comments. I was a more avid fan of his at one point but my interests drifted away somewhat. I envisioned this list as being potentially quite extensive with 10 choices to start being quite limiting. I'll probably add some more in the future. Obviously we share some strong overlaps in musical taste. Enjoy - Billyv

Thanks for adding one of my all time favorites who didn't even pop to mind when I posted the list - all the brain cylinders aren't always firing! - Billyv

It was either this man or Bob Dylan; both amazing songwriters/ storytellers but I just prefer this man's voice. - Britgirl

14 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.
15 Woody Guthrie
16 Neil Young Neil Percival Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.
17 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.

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, I am the Walrus, Sexy Sadie, Across the Universe, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, Strawberry Fields, No Reply, I'm a Loser, Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, A Day in the Life, For the Benefit of Mr. Kite, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Dear Prudence, Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam, Sun King and.. Imagine.. which tells the story, I suppose, of a shared world vision for some of us.

Yes. Lennon wrote or contributed to writing many solid songs. Many of these do not really fit a storytelling concept that seeks to differentiate from lists of songs with strong lyrics and meaningful and/or poetic imagery - there are other lists for that sort of thing. Your support would be more valid if you limited the focus. Otherwise, we may just as well have a few general lists or your own personal list of favorites. - Billyv

Always number one for me and so many others!

Cry Baby, Cry, The Ballad of John and Yoko, This Boy, Beautiful Boy.. Would vote for him hourly if I could.

I love John. I'm a huge fan and appreciate his work even from as objective of a perspective as I can reach. I'd support his inclusion among the greatest songwriters ever, but he doesn't belong near the top of this list above several of the others. Few of his songs even fit this category and style of writing. Brilliant images, invoked emotion, descriptive portraits, and poignant messages are elements that can be incorporated - they can inspire imagination -but alone they do not "tell a story". - Billyv

18 John Cale John Davies Cale is a Welsh musician, composer, singer, songwriter and record producer who was a founding member of the American rock band the Velvet Underground.
19 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.
20 Phil Ochs
21 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.

Iron Maiden is famous for their storytelling lyrical style. Bruce Dickinson pulls this off beautifully, and Steve Harris writes over 90% of Maiden's songs. His lyrics perfectly match his melodies, and his storytelling transcends lyrics, he can truly create an atmosphere with his music that takes you on a journey. Hands down one of the greatest storytellers in music.

22 Chris Martin Christopher Anthony John "Chris" Martin is an English singer, songwriter and musician. He is best known as the lead singer of rock band Coldplay.

Overrated, and his band is a rip-off of U2, and Radiohead

Love him

23 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.
24 Jackson Browne Clyde Jackson Browne is an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 18 million albums in the United States.
25 Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian, and education philanthropist.

Wrote some of the most beautiful lyrics ever. - truckturner

Thanks for adding all of these, who I also enjoy and respect. - Billyv

Should rate higher

26 Joan Baez Joan Chandos Baez is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist whose contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest or social justice.
27 Iron Maiden Iron Maiden are an English Heavy Metal / Hard Rock band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The most critically acclaimed period for the band was from 1983-1989. With vocalist Bruce Dickinson, bassist Steve Harris, lead guitarist Dave Murray, rhythm more.
28 Mark Knopfler Mark Freuder Knopfler is a British singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and film score composer. He is best known for being the frontman of the British band Dire Straits.

Better than many songwriters out here.

Sultans of Swing, "Rock music overtaking Jazz".
Money for Nothing, "Outrageous lifestyles of rock music. MTV and Glam Metal".
Telegraph Road, "Rise and fall of industry"
Boom Like that, " Ray Kroc and rise of McDonald's"
What it Is, "Edinburgh, Scotland"

Once Upon a Time in the West, "Wild west outlaws".

And many many. Underrated as a songwriter. - zxm

29 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 .
30 Don Henley/Glenn Frey
31 Gustavo Cerati
32 Arlo Guthrie Arlo Davy Guthrie is an American folk singer-songwriter. Like his father, Woody Guthrie, he is known for singing songs of protest against social injustice, and storytelling around a song.

"You can get anything you want...…………."

33 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.

The entire Tommy and Quadrophenia albums are stories - Garjen

34 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.
35 Jagger/Richards
36 Adam Young Adam Randal Young is an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for creating the synthpop/electronica project Owl City. Other important projects he has taken part of are Sky Sailing, Port Blue, Swimming With Dolphins, Seagull Orchestra and Adam Young Scores.
37 Fher Olvera
38 Burl Ives

"Come on let's crawl to the ugly bug ball. What a happy time we'll have there, one and all, at the ugly bug ball."
Quite :). - Britgirl

39 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.

Certainly one of my favourite - Ananya

40 Jimmy Buffett
41 George Jones
42 Chuck Berry
43 King Diamond Kim Bendix Petersen, better known by his stage name King Diamond, is a Danish heavy metal musician. He is known for his extensive vocal range, usually sung in falsetto. King Diamond was originally known as the vocalist for Mercyful Fate, but has become notorious for his horror themed Concept albums more.
44 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.
45 Phil Collins Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins is an English singer-songwriter and musician, who has also worked as a record producer and actor.
46 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.
47 George Young
48 Drive-By Truckers

These guys deserve to be well up there in the ranks of narrative songwriters. A criminally underrated band.

49 Tom T. Hall
50 Laura Nyro Laura Nyro was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession and New York Tendaberry, and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th Dimension recording her songs. more.
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