Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

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"The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time" is a feature published by the American magazine Rolling Stone in August 2015.[1] The list presented was compiled based on the magazine's music critics, and unlike previous lists the votes came entirely from the magazine's staff. It predominantly features American and English songwriters of the rock era.[2]

Top 10 songwriters[edit]

Rank Image Name Lifetime First single written
1 Bob Dylan May 24, 1941 – present "Mixed-Up Confusion" (1962), performed by himself
2 Paul McCartney June 18, 1942 – present "Love Me Do"/"P.S. I Love You" (1962), performed by the Beatles
3 John Lennon October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980
4 Chuck Berry October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017 "Maybellene" (1955), performed by himself
5 Smokey Robinson February 19, 1940 – present "Got a Job" (1958), performed by the Miracles
6 Mick Jagger / Keith Richards July 26, 1943 – present / December 18, 1943 – present "Tell Me" (1964), performed by the Rolling Stones
7 Carole King / Gerry Goffin February 9, 1942 – present / February 11, 1939 – June 19, 2014 "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (1960), performed by the Shirelles
8 Paul Simon October 13, 1941 – present "Hey Schoolgirl" (1957), performed by Simon & Garfunkel (then known as Tom & Jerry)
9 Joni Mitchell November 7, 1943 – present "Urge For Going" (1966), performed by Tom Rush
10 Stevie Wonder May 13, 1950 – present "Kiss Me Baby" (1968), performed by himself


The list received mixed response from fellow publications. Writing for Flavorwire, Judy Berman criticized the selection of the songwriters, saying "Predictably, it's over 70% white and features only nine solo female songwriters (five other women are included as part of mixed-gender writing teams). Classic rock is overrepresented; every other genre and subgenre of popular music is underrepresented."[3] Geeta Dayal from The Guardian accused "corporate sponsorship" in determining the list's content.[4] Tom Moon from NPR wrote that "This list represents another trip through the hagiographic, hermetically sealed rock hall of fame, with the same stars you've been reading about in Rolling Stone since the dinosaur age."[5] The Daily Telegraph editor Martin Chilton responded with a list of 100 best songwriters neglected by Rolling Stone, including Cole Porter, Townes Van Zandt, Ewan MacColl, Kate Bush, and Ray Charles.[6]

Jacqueline Cutler from New York Daily News agreed with the magazine for ranking Bob Dylan as the top songwriter.[7] Jon Bream from Star Tribune praised the inclusion of songwriters from Minnesota and said that Dylan as a number-one songwriter is not surprising at all.[8] Lori Melton from AXS said that the list "reads like an iconic student body in a songwriting master class" and complimented the inclusion of female songwriters Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Chrissie Hynde, Loretta Lynn, Lucinda Williams, and Björk, as well as Taylor Swift who is the youngest person on the list.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  2. ^ King, Peter (August 27, 2015). "Rolling Stone lists 100 greatest songwriters". Newsday. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  3. ^ Berman, Judy (August 17, 2015). "Does 'Rolling Stone' Know It Declared Songwriting Dead?". Flavorwire. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  4. ^ Dayal, Geeta (August 24, 2015). "The real peril in Rolling Stone's greatest songwriters wasn't the lack of diversity – it was the corporate sponsorship". The Guardian. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  5. ^ Moon, Tom (August 24, 2015). "The One Real Problem With Rolling Stone's 'Greatest Songwriters Of All Time'". NPR. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  6. ^ Chilton, Martin (May 17, 2016). "100 great songwriters not in the Rolling Stone list". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  7. ^ Cutler, Jacqueline (August 14, 2015). "Bob Dylan is Rolling Stone's greatest songwriter". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  8. ^ Bream, Jon (August 14, 2015). "Dylan tops Rolling Stone's rankings of best songwriters; Prince is No. 18". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  9. ^ Melton, Lori (August 18, 2015). "Taylor Swift makes her mark on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Songwriters list". AXS. Retrieved June 8, 2018.