Great Songwriters: Best Ever


Great Songwriters:

Here’s a list of some of the greatest songwriters of the last 50 years. Their work will continue to inspire others for years to come. Maybe you too can find some inspiration from their songwriting success.  I have made a video  as well featuring some of the greatest songwriters ever.

List of Greatest (Famous) Songwriters:

  • Adam Duritz
  • Alan Bergman
  • Antoine (Fats) Domino Jr.
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim
  • Barry Gibb
  • Barry Manilow
  • Barry Mann
  • Bernie Taupin
  • Billy Joel
  • Bob Merrill
  • Bobby Darin
  • Boudleaux Bryant
  • Bob Crewe
  • Bob Dylan
  • Bob Gaudio
  • Bob Hilliard
  • Bon Jovi
  • Brian Holland
  • Brian Jones
  • Brian Wilson
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Buddy Holly
  • Burt Bacharach
  • Carly Simon
  • Carole King
  • Carole Bayer Sager
  • Carolyn Leigh
  • Charles Aznavour
  • Charles Strouse
  • Chuck Berry
  • Curtis Mayfield
  • Cynthia Weil
  • Dave Bartholomew
  • David Crosby
  • Diane Warren
  • Dolly Parton
  • Don Henly
  • Edward Holland
  • Ellie Greenwich
  • Elvis Costello
  • Eric Clapton
  • Felice Bryant
  • Fred Ebb
  • Freddie Mercury
  • George Harrison
  • Gerry Goffin
  • Glenn Frey
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Hal David
  • Harlan Howard
  • Howard Greenfield
  • James Brown
  • James Taylor
  • J. S. Bach
  • Jeff Barry
  • Jerome “Doc” Pomus
  • Jerry Block
  • Jerry Herman
  • Jerry Leiber

Video Featuring Some Of The Best Songwriters Of All Time (Famous Songwriters)

It’s amazing the debate that this video has given rise to. Some people have disagreed with some of the choices and feel that certain songwriters should have been left out and others chosen instead. You can have your say.

List of great songwriters:

  • Jerry Ross
  • Jim Croce
  • Jim Morrison
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jimmy Buffett
  • Jimmy Page
  • Jimmy Webb
  • John Barry
  • John Bettis
  • John Denver
  • John Kander
  • John Lennon
  • John Prine
  • John Williams
  • Johnny Cash
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Keith Richards
  • Kenneth Gamble
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Lamont Dozier
  • Laura Nyro
  • Lee Adams
  • Leon Huff
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Linda Creed
  • Lionel Richie
  • Little Richard
  • Marilyn Bergman
  • Marvin Hamlisch
  • Matraca Berg
  • Maurice Gibb
  • Michael Jackson
  • Michael Legrand
  • Mick Jagger
  • Mike Stoller
  • Miss Peggy Lee
  • Mort Shuman
  • Neil Diamond
  • Neil Sedaka
  • Nickolas Ashford

More great songwriters:

  • Norman Gimbel
  • Otis Blackwell
  • Otis Redding
  • Paul Anka
  • Paul McCartney
  • Paul Simon
  • Paul Williams
  • Pete Townshend
  • Phil Collins
  • Phil Spector
  • Queen
  • Randy Newman
  • Richard Adler
  • Richard Carpenter
  • Robin Gibb
  • Rod Temperton
  • Roger Miller
  • Roger Waters
  • Roy Orbison
  • Sheldon Harnick
  • Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • Sir Elton John
  • Sir Tim Rice
  • Smokey Robinson
  • Stephen Sondheim
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Sting
  • Suzanne Vega
  • Todd Rundgren
  • Tori Amos
  • Valerie Simpson
  • Van Morrison
  • Willie Nelson

Study the work of some of these great songwriters and see how you can apply various techniques and strategies to your songwriting.

Who are The Best Songwriters Ever? Visitors Share Their Views.

1. Tupac Shakur – One of the Greatest Songwriters

The man was a legend. He created rap. If he isn’t on this list then that is disappointing for music lovers the world over. Does he deserve to have his name right next to those of Dylan’s, Lennon- McCartney’s,and Mitchell’s et al??? HELL YES!!!

2. My opinion – Bruce Springsteen – Great Songwriter

by Anonymous

For me, Bruce Springsteen is the greatest songwriter of all time. The combination of melody, lyric, and arrangements of his songs over such a long period of time make him for me peerless in his craft. The quality of his work has hardly diminished in 40 years.

3. Greatest Songwriters Of All Time – Additions

by Marlo L. Hogue (Mauldin, SC)

The following should be added as well b/c I’m not sure why many of the great African American songwriters were not included since they helped change music in this country as well.

  1. Stevie Wonder
  2. Roberta Flack
  3. Earth Wind and Fire
  4. Marvin Gaye
  5. Lauryn Hill
  6. Bilie Holiday
  7. Ray Charles
  8. Nat King Cole
  9. Not to mention all the great writers and composers for Motown.

4. Taylor Swift! – One of the best songwriters

by Emma (New Zealand)

I reckon Taylor Swift is definitely one of the best songwriters out there. Her songs hold so much meaning, but they’re still super fun to listen to! One of her newest songs, ‘Mean’, helped me and so many other people through tough times and school bullies.

Thanks for sharing your music with the world, Taylor!

Emma xx 😀

(List of Famous Songwriters)

5. The best songwriters of all time are unquestionably:

by Alison (Newcastle, UK)

The best songwriters of all time:

The following ALL contributed hugely to their eras and were all incredibly successful.

  • Paul McCartney & John Lennon
  • Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
  • Diane Warren
  • Holland, Dozier & Holland
  • Brian Wilson
  • Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
  • Norman Whitfield
  • Ashford & Simpson
  • Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
  • Michael Jackson
  • Madonna

6. Cat Stevens (Yusuf)- The best songwriter ever

by Shaeq Sarkisian (Yerevan,Armenia)

Cat Stevens is the best in my opinion. Man, he is so underrated!! He wrote so many uplifting and inspiring songs including masterpieces, Peace Train, Moonshadow, etc. That man always tried to make the world a better place to live in. But unfortunately the guy became infamous when he converted to Islam. It’s such a shame!! I am a Christian myself but me and my family absolutely adore Cat Stevens!!

The guy rocks!!

7. Billy Strayhorn, David Foster, Taylor Swift

by Ellen W. (Philadelphia, PA)

A couple of new names for your list of best songwriters.

William Thomas Strayhorn – Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn doesn’t get enough due and respect for being Duke Ellington’s ultra talented collaborator on such big lasting standards like “Take the A Train,” “Chelsea Bridge,” “Day Dream,” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” Billy wrote “Lush Life” when he was just a teen living in Pittsburgh, PA.

Secondly, 2010 Songwriters’ Hall of Fame Inductee David Foster is a force to be reckoned with. Incredible songwriting and producing talent. He is the songwriter’s songwriter.

Lastly, Taylor Swift has been noted by someone already however I wanted to add that although young, she has an impressive body of work — before 2008, she had already written several hundred songs (over 200).

Comment for Billy Strayhorn, David Foster, Taylor Swift:

Songwriter comparisons by: David

I fail to see how the likes of Taylor Swift (her rise to fame the result of teenage euphoria) can be compared to the genius of a Billy Strayhorn or writers such as Merle Haggard, Hank Williams or Billy Joe Shaver whose music epitomizes the heartaches and dreams of a culture struggling to survive. I write poetry, doesn’t mean it’s good…

Happy trails.

8. Amazing Songwriters 

– by Anonymous

I Think really great songwriters are:

  • John Lennon
  • Kurt Cobain
  • David Crosby
  • Jim Morrison
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Paul Mccartney
  • David Bowie
  • Pete Townshend
  • Bob Dylan
  • Eddie Vedder
  • Neil Young are the best

9.  Greatest Complete (Music & Lyrics) Songwriters Of All Time… They Completely (music & lyrics) came up with at least 5 Classic Compositions that transcend era & style…

by John (Torrance, CA.)

Example: John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Stephen Foster, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Stevie Wonder, Hank Williams, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello, Woody Guthrie, Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, Townes Van Zandt, Jimmie Rodgers, Jim Croce, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Chuck Berry, James Taylor, Stevie Nicks, Prince, Sting, Sam Cooke, Carly Simon, Paul Anka, Kurt Cobain, Ray Davies, Willie Nelson, Fiona Apple, John Fogerty, Pete Townshend, Billy Corgan, Bob Marley, Tim Hardin, Kenny Loggins, Conor Oberst, Dolly Parton, Elliott Smith, Phil Ochs, David Gates, Marvin Gayes, Johnny Cash, Al Green, Barry Gibb, John Denver, Tracy Chapman, Roy Orbison, Sarah McLachlan, & Trent Reznor.

10.  Cat Stevens

by john staymore (baltimore)

C’mon man, you’ve got a guy in there called Mort Shuman who I doubt any of you know and you wouldn’t even mention Cat Stevens. One of the greatest songwriters to live and you’ve got ‘viva las vegas’ higher than him. This is disgraceful.

11. More Great Songwriters

by Oliver (Durban, South Africa)

Don McClain, George Harrison and Bob Marley seem to be missing from this list. I dont know if Eddie Grant and Paul Rogers of Bad Co. write their owns songs – if they do then they should also be included. Neil Young and Joan Baez should also be on this list. I like the way George Harrison structures his lyrics and his use of words. Don McClain is Brilliant! and so is Joan Baez.

12. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam – one of the greatest songwriters

by Christopher (Locust Grove, Va, US)

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam in my opinion is one of the greatest songwriters. He is a modern day Bob Dylan. He has a song that anybody can relate to. He writes about current affairs and what he believes in. People say that Pearl Jam went downhill after the “Ten” album but that is only because then never listened to anything after “Ten”. Pearl Jam has songs for any kind of mood you may be in. Eddie Vedder is very under rated and such an amazing songwriter. He has that ability to reach out and touch you with his words.

13.  Great Songwriters

by Glade Hoffman (Santa Ana, CA)

I don’t see the great songwriters of the past here. I don’t see Jerone Kerns, Roders and Hammistein and Irvine Berlin. Why are they passed over. If you are showcasing great ROCK songwriters call it that. Otherwise how about listing the songwriters who inspired us to write in the 60’s.

14. Great Songwriters – Let us not forget …

by Tom O’Brien (Seattle)

Songwriting has changed a lot, but there are greats from the past like Johnny Mercer, Hoagie Charmichael, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin – even as far back as Stephen Foster that we seem to take for granted or put in some other category. But they could really write so much better than most of the trash out today. Neil Finn from Crowded House is one of my modern day favorites, along with Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills and Nash. I don’t even have to Mention Lennon and McCartney. Lately, I’ve really liked Rufus Wainwright. Always loved Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley. Marshall Crenshaw is a great one, too.

(List of Famous Songwriters)

15. PUNK!!! – Greatest Songwriters

by Wil  (Watford)

Seriously, not many songwriters can top the punks for pure quality of lyrics. GBH, The Exploited, The Clash, Anti Flag, Bad Brains etc.

Check out:

  • Alkaline Trio – Stupid Kid, This Could Be Love, Armageddon
  • Anti Flag – Angry Young And Poor, Confessions Of An Economic Hitman
  • GBH – No Survivors
  • Bad Religion – New Dark Ages, You, Big Bang
  • Rise Against – Saviour, Like The Angels, Life Less Frightening
  • NOFX – Soul Doubt, Linoleum, Dying Degree, Idiots Are Taking Over
  • Bad Brains – Banned In DC

Nothing can top punk. It’s brutally simple, makes you think and the best thing to see live. It’s just this fast, aggressive, beautiful stuff.

16. Bob Dylan, Great Songwriter

by Karen (Stuart, florida)

Dylan’s songs are downright brilliant, and can stand as poetry on their own. Plus he was prolific, and changed the scene of Folk Music/rock and roll.

There are many second tier songwriters who are/were also brilliant, but Dylan stands above them all.

17. My personal list of best songwriters ever

by joris (belgium)

My personal list of best songwriters

Bob Dylan, jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, jim morrisson and the doors, Albert King, Prince, Mark Sandman (morphine), Kurt Cobain, Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine, Tori Amos, Led Zeppelin, Eric Johnson, Lou Reed, stray cats, Fleetwood mac, jeff buckley, Wilson Picket, Johnny guitar watson, buddy guy, billy corgan, mark knopfler, the guy from the band ‘death’, Tool…

I probably forgot some very important ones… like the Beatles,… but there are also a lot of people who’s creativity levels I’m not sure about. But these people in the list did write themselves, and wrote some amazing songs.

But I must say, doing stuff like searching for the origin of a song and the original writer…; the more you seem to find out, the less you seem to know for sure. You find out that albert king for instance wasn’t the original writer for ”crosscut saw”, but no one knows for sure which of the two earlier recordings was the original writer’s. Like before this period, you can’ t really put names on the writers I guess, they go by names like ”delta blues guys” and such…

Who are the best songwriters ever? Continue reading the views of Ultimate Songwriting visitors here.

Share your comments/opinions below on who you think are the greatest songwriters ever.

Why do you think they are the best? You can talk about the great songs they have written, the impact they have had and so on. It’s pretty interesting what visitors have said. Let’s hear your take.

Different Types of Song Writers

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