Top 20 Greatest Songwriters

These are what I believe are the greatest songwriters that ever lived.
June 27, 2007
Alright, I haven't done any Top 10 lists in a while, so here we go. Seeing that this site is lacking music articles, I thought that maybe I'd do one. For my first music article, I'm going to do one based on all who I believe are the Top 20 greatest songwriters of all time. I was going to do Top 10, but there are too many great ones that I had to do 20. Now let's begin the countdown!

#20 - Jeff Lynne
Coming in at #20 is none other than Jeff Lynne. He was the lead frontman of Electric Light Orchestra and a very good friend of George Harrison's. His ability to write songs is pretty amazing wether it be a rock n roll song or something like "Evil Woman" or "Livin' Thing". When combining orchestrations or synthesizers into such brilliant songs, there seems to be like no limit to the stuff you can do. Even though Lynne hasn't done much since he left ELO and the Traveling Wilburys, his songwriting still stands out.

#19 - Tom Scholz
We would never have had the band, Boston, had it not been for the founder, Tom Scholz. Although Scholz is a very slow worker, the songs he has written are very powerful and mind-blowing. While he doesn't particularly sing leads, his guitar-playing is undeniably unique!

#18 - David Bowie
David Bowie is the King and Queen of Glam Rock. (That's supposed to be a joke; please don't take it seriously.) Bowie has given us quite a number of masterpieces like "Space Oddity", "Changes", "Suffragette City", "Rebel Rebel", "Young Americans", "Fame", "Golden Years", "Under Pressure" and "Let's Dance". When you listen to some of his lesser-known hits, you may notice that he has a quirky songwriting style, but that's what makes his music so great. Even though he has been jumping from style to style over the years, he's still the David Bowie we've loved all these years.

#17 - Robert Plant
When it comes to hard rocking songs, Robert Plant is a great songwriter. I put this guy on my list because I'm sure a lot of classic rock fans would kill me if I didn't mention someone like him. As the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, he started off leading a blues band, which later evolved into one of the greatest rock bands of the 70's. We really would never have had Rock N Roll had it not been for the blues! Even though Robert Plant wasn't quite as successful during his solo career, you can't go wrong with him. I mean, come on! It's freaking Led Zeppelin!

#16 - Sting
The bass player and lead singer of the Police. After the band broke up in the mid 80's, Sting was the only member who had a successful solo career. He really puts some effort into his songwriting while mixing it in with his ambient styles. When you listen to this guy's music, you'll feel like you're in another world. Now that the Police have reunited, I wonder what kind of stuff Sting will be doing next.

#15 - Pete Townsend
A famous guitar player from a wildly popular British rock band. Townsend has written some amazing songs over the years. The lyrics from "Behind Blue Eyes" are amongst my favorite lyrics of all time. Even though he and Roger Daltry are without John Entwistle (an insane bass player) and Keith Moon (one of the greatest drummers that ever lived), their band is still kicking in. I suggest getting one of the Who's best albums and listening to the lyrics to get a good idea of how powerful Townsend's songs are written.

#14 - Neil Peart
The drummer of Rush is debatably the greatest drummer of all time; he's also the genius songwriter of the band. Yes, believe it or not, the songs that Geddy Lee sings were written by Neil Peart, and again, it's so amazing how well-written the songs are. That and the band's powerful music make Rush one of my favorite bands of all time.

#13 - Dennis DeYoung
Each member of Styx (excluding the rhythm section) has their own style of songwriting, and the band's original leader, Dennis DeYoung, is the best songwriter of the three. While JY likes to rock out and Tommy Shaw likes to take things seriously, Dennis has written many beautiful ballads and unforgettable hits. It's sad that he's no longer in the band, but I wish him the best of luck with whatever he's doing at the moment.

#12 - John Mellencamp
Sometimes referred to as Johnny Cougar. During the 70's, he was one of the most unsuccessful people in the music business, but he made a huge comeback in the early 80's, and "Jack and Diane" stands out as a favorite to many. Mellencamp is a very serious songwriter, and he really knows how to make a hit song.

#11 - Carole King
There seem to be more males in the music business than there are females, and of all the females in the industry, the only one I can think of who is a brilliant songwriter is Carole King. During the 60's, she has written songs for The Monkees, Aretha Franklin, and more. We got to hear her voice for the first time in the early 70's when she released her solo album, "Tapestry". That album blew everyone away with strong hits like "I Feel the Earth Move", "So Far Away" and "You've Got a Friend". I seriously believe that Carol is indeed one of the greatest songwriters of all time, and that's why she made my list.

#10 - Bernie Taupin
We've made it to the top 10! This one, I guess you could consider a tie. Bernie Taupin is most known for being the poet who works alongside Elton John. Yes, they do make a great team, but Bernie didn't have much luck working solo. All of Elton John's songs are Bernie's poetry mixed in with Elton's music. Bernie Taupin is such a genius poet, and I probably would never have discovered him had it not been for Elton John.

#9 - Brian Wilson
Most known as the leader of the Beach Boys, which consisted of Brian Wilson, his two brothers, his cousin, and a friend of theirs. Of the Wilson brothers (Brian, Carl and Dennis), Brian was the oldest and most intellegent of the three. Most of his songs are typical beach-lovers songs, but the way he arranges them with the harmonies and all is just amazing. The team, Jan and Dean, are often mistaken for the Beach Boys, and it's mostly because Brian Wilson has written some of their songs. Even though it's almost been 50 years since he launched his career, he's still around while his brothers are resting in peace.

#8 - George Harrison
Being the "quiet one", George didn't get as much spotlight as John and Paul during his time with the Beatles. While he didn't write as many songs as the other two did, he still remains my favorite Beatle, mainly because he was the most spiritual Beatle. When the Beatles broke up, he broke out of his shell by releasing the outstanding "All Things Must Pass". Most people aren't as familiar with his other albums; he went on several hiatus's during his solo career, but really, if you listen to his stuff, he's just as good as all the other great songwriters out there. Some of his stuff was good, and some of it was not so good. His final album, "Brainwashed", was his first new album after a 15 year hiatus and another one of his finest, but sadly, he died before it was finished. All I'm going to say now is may he rest in peace.

#7 - Van Morrison
Yet another great songwriter. He has come a long way since his work with Them in the mid 60's. Looking at his discography, it seems that Van Morrison has made more albums than any other artist on the planet. It's like impossible to slow this guy down! Giving us such brilliant songs like "Domino", "Have I Told You Lately", "Wild Night", "Bright Side of the Road", "Moondance", and of course, "Brown Eyed Girl", he deserves a spot on my list.

#6 - Chuck Berry
There is no way I'd leave this guy off my list! Chuck Berry is indeed one of the greatest songwriters in Rock N Roll history, for he has written some of the biggest rock and roll songs of all time. During the 50's, 60's, 70's, and even the 80's, 90's and today, people have done covers of his songs. For the uninitiated, the songs he has written include "Johnny B. Goode", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Rock and Roll Music", and that's just a small portion of his songs. Who knew that such an icon would live for such a very long time?

#5 - John Lennon
During his music career, John Lennon has definately matured a lot. He knew that he had the freedom of speech, and that's why he made such songs like "Imagine". Other than that, his songs are mostly either about love, hard times, or are based off of children's stories. Yes, John Lennon has been an idol to many for over 40 years, but sadly, just as the 80's were beginning, he was murdered outside of his own home. Why would anyone want to kill off someone like this?

#4 - Bruce Springsteen
I know, some of you may be shocked that I put this guy over John Lennon. Bruce Springsteen is undeniably an idol of mine. The songs he has written are songs that I can listen to and enjoy any time any day, and everything he does is completely original. There is a lot of notable influence from past artists in his music, and you gotta admit that he is indeed an icon in Rock and Roll. A lot of his albums are just timeless classics. It's no wonder they call him "The Boss".

#3 - Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney is probably the most popular Beatle. Why do I say that? Well, let me take you back to 1964, and if you weren't there, than try to imagine it. The Beatles ruled the world, and girls always went wild when they were around. From what I understand, the girls loved Paul the most. Also, being the most brilliant songwriter of the fab four, he had the most successful solo career. Even though I tend to like John and George better, I gotta admit that Paul was the king compared to them; no one can do music like Paul. Today, he's 65 and still rocking out, which is kind of ironic because he's out-lived 2 of his bandmates, and he was supposed to be the one who died in a car crash 40 years ago. So regardless of wether you've got a crush on him or not, you can't go wrong with his music.

#2 - Paul Simon
We're getting into some more brilliant people now. Paul Simon is an all-in-one musician, actor and writer. Songwriter that is. His music is so heartwarming. While he was working with Art Garfunkel, it seemed like the duo was gradually getting better since they ended with the timeless "Bridge Over Troubled Water" before breaking up. Simon and Garfunkel have both had successful carreers, but Simon was definately the better songwriter of the two, since he is claimed to be one of the greatest songwriters of all time. But hey, Simon and Garfunkel have had plenty of reunions over the years, so it's not like they're going anywhere. Overall, there is no way you can go wrong with Paul Simon with so many songs he's done that just bring a tear to your eye. Paul Simon deserves to be put at #2 on my list.

Okay, we've seen some amazing songwriters on this list. Now, are you ready for #1? This one is definately the Coup de Gras of all songwriters, so I hope you're ready for it...

Behold! The #1 greatest songwriter of all time!

#1 - Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan has been writing songs since he was in college. He is a genius when it comes to songwriting. In fact, that's probably what he's most known for is his songwriting. This guy went way out of his way in his career. He started off in the early 60's, and has continued to make brilliant music from that point on. Bob Dylan's signature song, "Like a Rolling Stone", was a mind-blower with insane instrumentation and clocking in at 6 minutes in length, it was an unbelievable effort for 1965. Normally, during the 60's, AM Radio stations did not play any songs over 3 minutes long, but Bob Dylan pushed himself way over the limits. Apart from the Beatles, Bob Dylan is the most influential rock artist of all time. Like many great songwriters, many of his songs were covered by other artists. It's really hard to top Bob Dylan. He is, hands down, a historical rock and roll figure!

And there you have it. There's my Top 20 list of whom I believe are the 20 greatest songwriters of all time. Now, I'm sure that I forgot many other great songwriters, but please don't hate me for omitting them. I would actually love to see what some of your favorite songwriters are. I look forward to seeing your comments.
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