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Top 10 Most Influential Songwriters Alive



By Ira Greenfield

A few weeks ago, I sent out a tweet to ask who you think is the best songwriter alive. We received many messages on who they think is the best. This is a list I have compiled:

Bob Dylan


1. Bob Dylan
With inconic songs such as "Blowing In The Wind", "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Times Are A Changing", Dylan social messages ranked high above other songwriters today.

2. Paul McCartney
Paul is the most successful songwriter in the world, according to the Guiness Books of world records. With his stints in the greatest rock group in the world "The Beatles", later with "The Wings" and went on to a solo career. With his late co-writer Lennon,they are considered one of the greatest songwriting collaboration in history.

3. Elton John
He has written numerous hit songs with Bernie Taupin, their iconic songs "Your Song", "Candle In The Wind", "Rocketman". Not a day goes by that you do not hear any of these songs in a cover band in a hotel bar.

4. Neil Young
Neil has been in lengendary bands such as "Buffalo Springfield", "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young" and later on a solo career.

5. Bruce Springsteen
With rock anthems such as "Born To Run", "Born In The USA", "Glory Days", need I say more?

6. Diane Warren
Just about every artist has cut a song written by Diane Warren. She was the first songwriter in the history of Billboard magazine to have seven hits, all by different artists, on the singles chart at the same time. Warren owns her own publishing company, Realsongs, which gives her control over her songs. Her number 1 hits include "Because You Loved Me", "Un-Break My Heart", "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". She still remains the most in demand songwriter in the music industry today.

7. Desmond Child
Desmond has written iconic number 1 hits such as "Livin' on a Prayer", "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' La Vida Loca". His diverse list of artists such as Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, Cher, Aerosmith and Clay Aiken, Desmond is running close to Dianne Warren.

8. Paul Simon
From his days with Garfunkel, his solo career, his stint with South Africian music, Paul has written songs that mean something.

9. Brian Wilson
Brian was the primary songwriter in The Beach Boys, also functioning as the band's main producer, composer, and arranger. In 1988, Wilson and his band-mates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which refers to him as "One of the few undisputed geniuses in popular music".

10. Leonard Cohen
Leonard Norman Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. In 2010, Cohen received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the "highest and most influential echelon of songwriters."


For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go tp: http://www.songwriting.net 


Love Desmond Child but you must not forgot Benny and Bjorn of the Abba fame????
Posted @ Monday, May 24, 2010 10:41 PM by Jayne Young
Just ask how many other songwriters were influenced by Joni Mitchell...I think she should definitely have been on your list!
Posted @ Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:49 AM by IreneJ
Diane is truly the most amazing songwriter of ALL time. She is gifted and creative and I love her music. Okay, I am a bit prejudiced - Diane is my youngest sister!!! Love ya!!! 
Posted @ Tuesday, May 25, 2010 2:06 PM by Jan
Diane, you ARE the greatest songwriter in HISTORY!!!  
Your other sister, Carole
Posted @ Tuesday, May 25, 2010 6:15 PM by Carole Warren
I guess we need to define the word "greatest" and establish guidelines to measure such a thing, ie. record sales, social value, lyric quality etc. Melodies, of course, count but how could we possibly rate one melody over another? It's all so subjective really. As a songwriter myself, I can't even pick my own favourite song that I've written (okay, I do have my favourites but they're like my children - very difficult to play favourites).  
I hope that makes sense. 
Posted @ Thursday, May 27, 2010 3:17 PM by Wayne Collins
"Influential" is different from "best". Bruce is great, but influential? Where's Elvis (Costello of course)? If McCartney's there why no Lennon?
Posted @ Wednesday, June 02, 2010 10:09 AM by David Rovin
I'm surprised Sting, Peter Gabriel and Bono were not on the list
Posted @ Thursday, June 03, 2010 2:55 AM by Max
David, I think Lennon was left off because the list contains only alive writers. One alive writer who is left off: Jeff Lynne.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:44 AM by Robert
I've read many articles of artists/songwriters who have noted Diane as an influence. What she has single handedly accomplished is astonishing and, above all, influential to songwriters.
Posted @ Thursday, June 24, 2010 7:05 PM by Sarah Anderson
I wholeheartedly agree with the writer who added Joni Mitchell. And like her or not, Carole King should be on this list.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 30, 2010 6:47 PM by David Knishkowy
I think Hank Williams Sr. is commonly overlooked for his songwriting achievements and contributions.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 20, 2010 6:48 PM by Duff Harris
yes but, influential to who or whom?
Posted @ Tuesday, July 27, 2010 10:27 PM by andon davis
What about Sting Peter Gabriel and Elvis Costello? Joni Mitchell was more influential than Cohen, great as he is...
Posted @ Tuesday, August 17, 2010 4:48 PM by Max
I guess all of the greatest writers are white, huh? What about Stevie Wonder; Prince; Gamble and Huff; Smokey Robinson; Holland-Dozier-Holland, etc. Rock music and Popular music as we know it was created and written by artist such as Chuck Berry( robbed by Elvis), Little Richard, Muddy Waters (Waters' writing/playing inspired the Stones and Beatles), and the list goes on. 
20 years from now His-STORY will state that the 10 greatest soul singers were white, too.
Posted @ Saturday, September 04, 2010 10:54 PM by wj
I think that if you are going to mention McCartney & Lennon then we should also mention Jagger & Richards. 40 years on and they can still sell out a stadium and their music is loved by people of all ages.
Posted @ Sunday, September 26, 2010 6:41 AM by Dylboy
Ray Davies of The Kinks should be included in the top 10.
Posted @ Tuesday, November 16, 2010 6:54 PM by Mikxhael Bennett
Dwight Yoakam should definitely be on that list. He is a true poet who plays honky tonk music.
Posted @ Monday, November 22, 2010 8:16 PM by john whipple
Since Townes is no longer with us, perhaps Guy Clark or Steve Earle should be on this list.
Posted @ Friday, February 25, 2011 6:28 AM by bob bartlett
Well, the best songwriter are numerous but we just have to lay our hands on few we could remember.I have enjoy music of many and have really inspired me.Thank you for highlighten some, that has really help the young or new one on their ambiteous to do so.
Posted @ Friday, March 04, 2011 11:17 AM by Wale Robyns
Wow, my list would not have included any of these folks! What about Paul Williams, Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Webb, Toni Tennille, John Farrar??? The list goes on...
Posted @ Friday, April 01, 2011 12:34 PM by Canyon
I am digging Cole Porter everyone stole from him
Posted @ Monday, June 06, 2011 2:16 PM by Joseph DiBari
We often think of Michael Jackson as a singer/performer first, but he wrote or co-wrote so many of not only his own songs but many that were performed by other artists. Just today I noticed a copy of the "We Are The World" album in the local record store and realized that he and Lionel Richie wrote that song together. Many of his songs were strictly for fun and dancing, but so many others are deeply personal stories or very poignant social commentary. Definitely a voice that has touched countless hearts and minds during his life-long career in music.
Posted @ Monday, June 06, 2011 6:23 PM by Melissa Axel
What about Willie Nelson? Gretchen Peters? Dolly Parton? Those are excellent too. Not to mention John Denver.
Posted @ Monday, June 06, 2011 6:47 PM by Meade Skelton
Agreed, Meade..Dolly is a fantastic writer!
Posted @ Monday, June 06, 2011 6:53 PM by Canyon
As an Englishman I have to submit 2 writers who have certainly had a huge effect on us Brits. Pete Townshend of the Who and Ray Davies (Kinks). Their influence can be heard in so much that comes from these shores it's impossible to list.
Posted @ Thursday, June 09, 2011 2:55 AM by Aaron Jaycie
I agree with Aaron on his choices of songwriters, and myself being an Englishman also, I need to point out the importance of Billy Bragg as a songwriter. Oh... and Rory Mcleod.
Posted @ Sunday, November 13, 2011 7:15 AM by Darren Jarwood
how can I break into the songwriting industry with my tunes and lyrics?
Posted @ Saturday, December 31, 2011 4:52 AM by Paul Greenfield
What about Smokey Robinson?
Posted @ Monday, January 02, 2012 9:32 AM by Cedric McClester
No Bono, Carol King and Goffin? leiber stoller. Recount!
Posted @ Wednesday, January 25, 2012 4:33 PM by tim matthews
How Prince and Carole King were left off is beyond me.....maybe on a top 20.... hhhmmmmmm.....
Posted @ Monday, February 06, 2012 5:51 PM by Tampa Reed
Dean Dillon, Victoria Shaw, Merle Haggard, Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard, Gary Burr, Craig Wiseman....
Posted @ Monday, February 20, 2012 8:54 PM by Chris H.
You all know that Bono is part of a 4 man (and sometimes 5) writing team. A little respect for the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen please! 
This is all opinion. The only concrete way to gauge is sales and so I guess the list is about right although the first 2 may or may not be in the correct order.
Posted @ Monday, April 09, 2012 10:12 PM by Brett Campbell
You can't leave Barry Gibb off of this list with the 3rd most #1 hits behind Sir Paul and Lennon. If your not moved by songs like How Deep Is Your Love, More Than a Woman, How can you Mend a Broken Heart, Tragedy, Stayin' Alive and To Love Somebody you just don't like music.
Posted @ Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:08 AM by Art
The last year I've been listening to Jimmy Webb seriously. "The Moons a Harsh Mistress", "If These Four Walls Could Speak","Highwayman" + others. He would rank in my top ten. I think you did a good job in your selection though.
Posted @ Monday, May 21, 2012 6:26 PM by robert west
Greg Barnhill, maybe the most diverse writer of our time. And, my favorite co-writer. I'm a lucky boy!
Posted @ Tuesday, May 22, 2012 12:15 PM by Roger McGee
Can't forget Barry Gibb, Guiness lists him as the second most successful Songwriter of all time...
Posted @ Sunday, June 03, 2012 10:20 PM by Ari
Martin Karl Sandberg aka 'Max Martin', Lukasz 'Dr. Luke' Gottwald, Timothy 'Timbaland' Mosley, Van Morrison, Adele, Chris Martin (Coldplay),Bob Crewe, Rob Thomas, Taio Cruz,Stargate,Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift... the list goes on.
Posted @ Monday, June 11, 2012 6:53 AM by David Brogan
Chinn & Chapman have to be up there. Go see what they did ... Suzi Q, Smokie, The Sweet, Mudd, Racey ... its not a bad list :)And, they wrote the hits, not just some crap B side ... Cant believe Chapman was Australian! And if you are going down there, what about Vanda & Young, or the Gibb brothers ...
Posted @ Tuesday, August 21, 2012 5:24 PM by Anthony
i co-wrote with Gary Usher, a Long time Co-writer with Brian wilson..Gary and I (Joseph Nicoletti) co-wrote "Lets put the Fun back in rockn roll" Recorded by Frankie avalon ,Fabian & Bobby Rydell 1985 gary usher produced i was the Songwriter & Publisher ! joseph Nicoletti consulting-Promotions
Posted @ Monday, September 10, 2012 7:22 PM by joseph Nicoletti consulting
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