Top 10 Songwriters Of The 20th Century

For a songwriter to make it to the top ten lists he /she should have composed songs which have stood the test of time. They should be sung by many singers and the songs should have become a part of our musical history. The purposes of this list we are only considering the songwriters who gave us popular rock and roll or country or pop music.


1. Bob Dylan:

He towers over everyone else with his musical genius. He gave us words which embodied the pathos and angst of his generation and where the listeners identified themselves with the feelings and emotions which were a part of the song. He is the most influential songwriter of his times and all of us are familiar with his compositions such as The Times they are a-changing and Blowing in the Wind.


2. Lennon/McCartney:

The amazing music that the Beatles gave us is the result of songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Music was never the same again after they burst on the scene and each song of theirs seems to be better than the last. Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, the entire album of Sgt. Pepper’s  Lonely Hearts Club, the list just goes on and on. After the group broke up Lennon and McCartney continued to compose songs individually. Lennon’s genius was cut short by his murder but McCartney continues to write songs even today.


3. David Bowie:

A major figure for over 50 years in the field of rock music, David Bowie has not only been a singer, songwriter but also a record producer. The intellectual depth of his work sets him apart from the general run of the mill songwriters and he has been nominated among the Top 50 Rock Artistes of all times. His repertoire includes songs such as Let’s Dance, Ashes to Ashes and Under


4. Paul Simon:

A brilliant musician and songwriter, along with Garfunkel he gave us some of the most heart-warming songs of all times. Even after breaking up with Garfunkel he has continued to bring forth great songs. The film The Graduate owes a great deal to their inspiring music and to date we can hear Bridge Over Troubled waters and Sounds of Silence again and again.


5. Bruce Springsteen:

The Boss writes music which reflects the angst and frustration of the ordinary folks. He gives us pathos and dreams, he gives us anger and reflection and his songs are for all times. He is his own best performer since his voice seems to suit his words very well, but the fact remains that his words will probably live longer than his own singing.


6. Sting:

The lead singer and bass player of the group Police, Sting wrote songs which were a reflection of his ambient style and were easy to sing and understand. Even after the group broke up he continued to write chartbusters and today when the group has reunited we expect him to give us music which will match his earlier compositions such as Every Breath You take and Don’t Stand So Close To Me.


7. Carol King:

During the 60s she penned music for groups and singers such as the Monkees and Aretha Franklin. When she was 18 years old she achieved her first success as a songwriter with the song Will You Love Me Tomorrow. Many consider her to be the best female song-writer of all times. She penned songs such as (You make me feel like) A Natural Woman and You’ve got a Friend.


8. Chuck Berry:

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has stated that even though no one person can be called the inventor of rock and roll, yet Chuck Berry is the one person who put all the essential pieces together. He gave rock and roll some of its most famous songs such as Maybelline, Johnny B. Goode and No Particular Place to go. His immense talent can be judged by the fact that Johnny B Goode has been nominated as the greatest guitar song of all time.


9. Robert Plant:

When it comes to classic rock, there is no one equal to Robert Plant. He was the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, and even though he is known more for his singing style, yet his contribution as a songwriter has also been immense. Mystical, philosophical and haunting, many of his lyrics were based on Welsh mythology.


10. Neil Young:

A Canadian Song-writer and singer, Neil Young’s career has spanned over 40 years. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has described him as one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers”. His lyrics are deeply personal and they reflect his experimentation with different music styles. His songs are about the US and about Canada and many of the incorporate his advocacy for environmental issues.

About The Author

4 Responses

  1. paulc

    Where is Brian Wilson? The mere fact that you left Brian off YOUR list of YOUR “Top 10 Songwriters” invalidates any list YOU attempt to create.

    Some of YOUR other choices are not top 10 in most people’s minds either.

  2. Brent

    Once again. Joni Mitchell forgotten. Carol King as good as she was, had songwriting help from her husband. Joni is the best of the females. When Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Graham Nash, James Taylor wrote songs about you. You’re it. Some of their best songs too. “Going to California” “Hey Joni” “Our House” “Close Your Eyes”.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.