Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

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Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by JR » Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:35 am

As it's not a songs/albums list, I guess this would be the preferred forum.

Anyone of note missing?

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists ... ongwriters

100. Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson
99. Tom T. Hall
98. Otis Blackwell
97. Taylor Swift
96. Timbaland and Missy Elliott
95. The Bee Gees
94. John Prine
93. Billie Joe Armstrong
92. Paul Westerberg
91. Eminem
90. Babyface
89. Felice and Boudleaux Bryant
88. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill
87. Kris Kristofferson
86. Sam Cooke
85. R.E.M.
84. Kanye West
83. Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson
82. Marvin Gaye
81. Björk
80. R. Kelly
79. Lucinda Williams
78. Curtis Mayfield
77. Allen Toussaint
76. Loretta Lynn
75. Isaac Hayes and David Porter
74. Patti Smith
73. Radiohead
72. Fats Domino and Dave Barthomolew
71. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen
70. Dan Penn
69. James Taylor
68. Jay Z
67. Morrissey and Marr
66. Kenny Gamble and Leon A. Huff
65. George Harrison
64. Bert Berns
63. Chrissie Hynde
62. Harry Nilsson
61. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman
60. Willie Nelson
59. Tom Petty
58. George Clinton
57. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones
56. Madonna
55. Tom Waits
54. Kurt Cobain
53. Stevie Nicks
52. The Notorious B.I.G.
51. Willie Dixon
50. Billy Joel
49. Don Henley and Glenn Frey
48. Elton John and Bernie Taupin
47. Neil Diamond
46. Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong
45. Robbie Robertson
44. Jimmy Webb
43. Johnny Cash
42. Sly Stone
41. Max Martin
40. John Fogerty
39. David Bowie
38. Al Green
37. Jackson Browne
36. Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter
35. Bono and the Edge
34. Michael Jackson
33. Merle Haggard
32. Burt Bacharach and Hal David
31. Dolly Parton
30. Pete Townshend
29. Buddy Holly
28. Woody Guthrie
27. Ray Davies
26. James Brown
25. Randy Newman
24. Elvis Costello
23. Robert Johnson
22. Van Morrison
21. Lou Reed
20. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
19. Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry
18. Prince
17. Neil Young
16. Leonard Cohen
15. Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland
14. Bruce Springsteen
13. Hank Williams
12. Brian Wilson
11. Bob Marley
10. Stevie Wonder
9. Joni Mitchell
8. Paul Simon
7. Carole King and Gerry Goffin
6. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
5. Smokey Robinson
4. Chuck Berry
3. John Lennon
2. Paul McCartney
1. Bob Dylan

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Listyguy » Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:49 pm

I anteresting they put Lennon behind McCartney. I like Paul's music more, but John is definitely a better songwriter. A lot of McCartney's songs are sillier.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by PlasticRam » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:20 pm

Listyguy wrote:I anteresting they put Lennon behind McCartney. I like Paul's music more, but John is definitely a better songwriter. A lot of McCartney's songs are sillier.
Yeah. I wonder how much of songwriting they consider the sound though. It's not just the words.

But then again I am confused about that, cos I used to think it was just the words. I think John would be higher than Paul and Kanye wouldn't be on this list at all if it was just the words.
I feel like that

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by DocBrown » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:41 pm

JR wrote: Anyone of note missing?
Jim Croce
Glenn Campbell
Townes Van Zandt
Kate Bush

Tom Waits at 55 is a travesty. In my opinion.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Romain » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:53 pm

JR wrote:
Anyone of note missing?
Everything outside english speaking songwriters maybe?

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Harold » Fri Aug 14, 2015 2:30 pm

DocBrown wrote:Townes Van Zandt
I wanted to reference the famous Steve Earle quote about TVZ (particularly since Dylan is #1 here), and found this excerpt from a Telegraph interview that not only reproduces the quote but clarifies and contextualizes it, to boot (no pun intended):

****************************************************************************************
Earle is also responsible for an infamous, provocative quote about his hero.

“Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that,” he declared in 1995.

Typically and perversely, Van Zandt distanced himself from the compliment.

“I’ve met Bob Dylan’s bodyguards, and if Steve Earle thinks he can stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table, he’s sadly mistaken,” he said.

These days Earle is a little sheepish about this squabble. “I just gave him that quote as a blurb for one of his records,” he says. “It got out of hand.

Do I think Townes Van Zandt is a better songwriter than Bob Dylan? No. Do I think he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath? Absolutely.”

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Jirin » Fri Aug 14, 2015 2:48 pm

Pretty much the kind of list you would expect from Rolling Stone. One where you can't argue too much with the inclusions but anyone but established classic rock superstars gets excluded. Just enough rap to say they included rap (Although not seeing Public Enemy there, is there just a name I don't recognize?) but not enough to alienate their core aging white male audience.

R Kelly's inclusion is kind of absurd, other than that I can't say any of them aren't good songwriters.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Listyguy » Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:12 pm

Yeah Townes missing is a travesty, but its Rolling Stone so I'm not surprised. I'm not a fan of the Taylor Swift inclusion though.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by The Rug Rat » Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:32 pm

DocBrown wrote:
JR wrote: Anyone of note missing?

Glenn Campbell
What did he write of note?

All his big hits were written by other people.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by The Rug Rat » Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:33 pm

Where are people like Irving Berlin?

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by bootsy » Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:38 pm

Jirin wrote:Pretty much the kind of list you would expect from Rolling Stone. One where you can't argue too much with the inclusions but anyone but established classic rock superstars gets excluded. Just enough rap to say they included rap (Although not seeing Public Enemy there, is there just a name I don't recognize?) but not enough to alienate their core aging white male audience.

R Kelly's inclusion is kind of absurd, other than that I can't say any of them aren't good songwriters.
Why? It's not anymore absurd than Taylor Swift or Timbaland/Missy being included. If they are there, Kells deserves to be there.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Blanco » Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:55 pm

Romain wrote:
JR wrote:
Anyone of note missing?
Everything outside english speaking songwriters maybe?
THIS. A THOUSAND TIMES.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by bootsy » Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:03 pm

Blanco wrote:
Romain wrote:
JR wrote:
Anyone of note missing?
Everything outside english speaking songwriters maybe?
THIS. A THOUSAND TIMES.
Have to keep in mind this is Rolling Stone, so I don't expect any kind of out of the box type thinking when it comes to their lists. Would love to have seen some non english songwriters but that's expecting too much from them.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Harold » Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:12 pm

The Rug Rat wrote:Where are people like Irving Berlin?
They probably shouldn't have labeled the list "...of All Time," as that raises questions about omissions like Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Ellington, etc. (basically, anyone to whom Ella Fitzgerald's devoted an album).

I think most people seeing the list will mentally revise the title to something like "Greatest Songwriters Since the Generally-Accepted Advent of Rock Music in the Mid-1950s," but "All Time," to quote one of the writers on the list, means forever and that's a mighty long time.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by JR » Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:46 pm

As a English publication, I wouldn't expect RS to include foreign-language songwriters- it's rare that foreign-language music is included in U.S.-based lists.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by whuntva » Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:06 pm

Yeah, this isn't a good list.

You won't include too many old school artists or Broadway singers?

Is it more for sound? Because if it were solely lyrics, George Harrison would be out of the question.

Kinda predictable and boring altogether.

The no foreign-language is understandable if disappointing.
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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Pierre » Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:09 pm

Harold wrote:
The Rug Rat wrote:Where are people like Irving Berlin?
They probably shouldn't have labeled the list "...of All Time," as that raises questions about omissions like Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Ellington, etc. (basically, anyone to whom Ella Fitzgerald's devoted an album).

I think most people seeing the list will mentally revise the title to something like "Greatest Songwriters Since the Generally-Accepted Advent of Rock Music in the Mid-1950s," but "All Time," to quote one of the writers on the list, means forever and that's a mighty long time.
JR wrote:As a English publication, I wouldn't expect RS to include foreign-language songwriters- it's rare that foreign-language music is included in U.S.-based lists.
Then, to combine both, this is the list of the "Greatest English-Speaking Songwriters Since the Generally-Accepted Advent of Rock Music in the Mid-1950s from an American Standpoint". It therefore becomes a list I don't have any interest in. Rolling Stone, you really have to renew your writer pool and scope...

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by The Rug Rat » Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:30 pm

Harold wrote:
I think most people seeing the list will mentally revise the title to something like "Greatest Songwriters Since the Generally-Accepted Advent of Rock Music in the Mid-1950s," but "All Time," to quote one of the writers on the list, means forever and that's a mighty long time.
Hank Williams died a couple of years before Rolling Stone thinks that Rock music started.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by DocBrown » Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:33 pm

The Rug Rat wrote:
DocBrown wrote:
JR wrote: Anyone of note missing?

Glenn Campbell
What did he write of note?

All his big hits were written by other people.
Thanks, Bruce. I was actually looking for Jimmy Webb (44) and had a brain fart.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Jirin » Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:39 pm

bootsy wrote:
Jirin wrote:Pretty much the kind of list you would expect from Rolling Stone. One where you can't argue too much with the inclusions but anyone but established classic rock superstars gets excluded. Just enough rap to say they included rap (Although not seeing Public Enemy there, is there just a name I don't recognize?) but not enough to alienate their core aging white male audience.

R Kelly's inclusion is kind of absurd, other than that I can't say any of them aren't good songwriters.
Why? It's not anymore absurd than Taylor Swift or Timbaland/Missy being included. If they are there, Kells deserves to be there.
I missed Taylor Swift and Missy on the list. Taylor Swift is certainly not one of the best songwriters of all time but she's more competent a songwriter than R Kelly.

His most famous song I Believe I Can Fly is a schmaltz-bomb. His other famous work is a bloated mess of terrible narrative. He's the opposite of a good songwriter.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Harold » Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:46 pm

Jirin wrote:I missed Taylor Swift and Missy on the list. Taylor Swift is certainly not one of the best songwriters of all time but she's more competent a songwriter than R Kelly.

His most famous song I Believe I Can Fly is a schmaltz-bomb. His other famous work is a bloated mess of terrible narrative. He's the opposite of a good songwriter.
...and cue Bootsy in: 5... 4... 3... 2...

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by bootsy » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:10 pm

Jirin wrote:
bootsy wrote:
Jirin wrote:Pretty much the kind of list you would expect from Rolling Stone. One where you can't argue too much with the inclusions but anyone but established classic rock superstars gets excluded. Just enough rap to say they included rap (Although not seeing Public Enemy there, is there just a name I don't recognize?) but not enough to alienate their core aging white male audience.

R Kelly's inclusion is kind of absurd, other than that I can't say any of them aren't good songwriters.
Why? It's not anymore absurd than Taylor Swift or Timbaland/Missy being included. If they are there, Kells deserves to be there.
I missed Taylor Swift and Missy on the list. Taylor Swift is certainly not one of the best songwriters of all time but she's more competent a songwriter than R Kelly.

His most famous song I Believe I Can Fly is a schmaltz-bomb. His other famous work is a bloated mess of terrible narrative. He's the opposite of a good songwriter.
You are a person who sounds like they know nothing about R. Kelly. Like most of this board who know nothing outside of The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan and other 60s 70s rock. How bout opening your mind a little bit and learn some other genres of music which you clearly lack. And of course mentioning the predictable I Believe I Can Fly. That's probably the first time you'd ever heard of R. Kelly. Please.

Ignition(Remix), Your Body's Calling, Bump N Grind, Fiesta, I Can't Sleep, Trapped In The Closet series are some very good examples of great writing. I'm pretty sure you've heard of none of these songs or maybe you have. Either way it doesn't matter you don't know what you are talking about. Besides himself he's also wrote hit(top 20) songs for The Isley Brothers, Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Ginuwine, Usher, Puff Daddy, Blaque What the hell does Taylor Swift write besides corny, teen bop lyrics for herself. So you can have Taylor Swift and her corny lyrics, I'll take R. Kelly's writing ability over hers and he belongs on this list.
Last edited by bootsy on Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by bootsy » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:11 pm

Harold wrote:
Jirin wrote:I missed Taylor Swift and Missy on the list. Taylor Swift is certainly not one of the best songwriters of all time but she's more competent a songwriter than R Kelly.

His most famous song I Believe I Can Fly is a schmaltz-bomb. His other famous work is a bloated mess of terrible narrative. He's the opposite of a good songwriter.
...and cue Bootsy in: 5... 4... 3... 2...
and cue Harold and his baiting in 5... 4... 3... 2.. well you've already done it AGAIN so never mind.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Harold » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:17 pm

bootsy wrote:
Harold wrote:
Jirin wrote:I missed Taylor Swift and Missy on the list. Taylor Swift is certainly not one of the best songwriters of all time but she's more competent a songwriter than R Kelly.

His most famous song I Believe I Can Fly is a schmaltz-bomb. His other famous work is a bloated mess of terrible narrative. He's the opposite of a good songwriter.
...and cue Bootsy in: 5... 4... 3... 2...
and cue Harold and his baiting in 5... 4... 3... 2.. well you've already done it so never mind.
Sorry. Didn't mean to come across as baiting. I was anticipating a response to Jirin's comments, that's all. I'd actually had second thoughts and was going to delete that post but figured it was probably too late. It didn't contribute anything. It's been a long week, is my only defense (a weak one, but there you go).

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Harold » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:30 pm

bootsy wrote:and cue Harold and his baiting in 5... 4... 3... 2.. well you've already done it AGAIN so never mind.
Curious about this, though - genuinely. When have I done this before? The only time I can remember doing anything close to "baiting" in a thread specifically involving you is my initial response to an argument you and JimmyJazz were having in the film section - and those were comments I DID delete after the initial post.

I try not to make deliberately inflammatory comments here, and it's a little disconcerting to not only be called out for it (deservedly in this case, I admit) but to be informed that I'm doing it "AGAIN" (and I notice also that you went back and added that word). I don't want to belabor this or get the thread off track, but I'm just wondering if I'm doing something without even realizing it.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Jackson » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:34 pm

Ray Davies and David Bowie seem pretty low. Max Martin's inclusion is wholly deserved IMO, it is just amazing how many of the most iconic pop songs of the last 20 years are connected to him.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by bootsy » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:37 pm

Harold wrote:
bootsy wrote:and cue Harold and his baiting in 5... 4... 3... 2.. well you've already done it AGAIN so never mind.
Curious about this, though - genuinely. When have I done this before? The only time I can remember doing anything close to "baiting" in a thread specifically involving you is my initial response to an argument you and JimmyJazz were having in the film section - and those were comments I DID delete after the initial post.

I try not to make deliberately inflammatory comments here, and it's a little disconcerting to not only be called out for it (deservedly in this case, I admit) but to be informed that I'm doing it "AGAIN" (and I notice also that you went back and added that word). I don't want to belabor this or get the thread off track, but I'm just wondering if I'm doing something without even realizing it.
Well I didn't really see the point of cue bootsy thing but whatever. You may not have done it before. There was a lot of people going at me in the Kendrick Lamar thread/debate a while back. If that wasn't you my bad.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Jackson » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:40 pm

Wait how did PJ Harvey miss this list?

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Harold » Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:08 am

bootsy wrote: Well I didn't really see the point of cue bootsy thing but whatever. You may not have done it before. There was a lot of people going at me in the Kendrick Lamar thread/debate a while back. If that wasn't you my bad.
I went back to that thread - in the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, that escalated quickly. Definitely not me; I didn't even post in that thread. If I ever get that riled up on a music forum, it'll be time for me to take a vacation.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Listyguy » Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:19 am

bootsy wrote:Like most of this board who know nothing outside of The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan and other 60s 70s rock. How bout opening your mind a little bit and learn some other genres of music which you clearly lack.
You cleary know nothing about this board based on this. God forbid someone have a different opinion than you.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by bootsy » Sat Aug 15, 2015 3:23 am

Listyguy wrote:
bootsy wrote:Like most of this board who know nothing outside of The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan and other 60s 70s rock. How bout opening your mind a little bit and learn some other genres of music which you clearly lack.
You cleary know nothing about this board based on this. God forbid someone have a different opinion than you.
You don't either. Look man I can express my opinion any way I want and in this case if it something that I feel strongly about then I'm going to express it strongly. Give me a break with 'God forbid someone have a different than me' that i just fall in because that's the way you want it to be. Well i didn't so 'God forbid someone for responding strongly to your opinion' because you'd get your panties in a bunch if some one challenged your opinion. 'Well he's not supposed to challenge my opinion, it's supposed to be over after i express my opinion'. You wouldn't last two minutes in a damn debate.

Furthermore when someone says about R. Kelly
'His most famous song I Believe I Can Fly is a schmaltz-bomb. His other famous work is a bloated mess of terrible narrative. He's the opposite of a good songwriter' tells me that this person knows nothing about R. Kelly and instead of finding out about what he's done as far as writing they resort to some lazy bullsh like this. That's not an opinion that should go without a response but according to you I should just be quiet and accept because it's an opinion and it should go unanswered.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Pierre » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:18 am

Personally, over the debate on whether R. Kelly or Taylor Swift deserve to be in, I would much rather have one on the urban artists who didn't make it. Where are Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, A Tribe Called Quest (this here is just a sample)? These are serious omissions in my opinion. As far as lyrics go, they were better songwriters than some people including here (avoiding dropping names to not ignite any new conflict).
Last edited by Pierre on Sat Aug 15, 2015 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Listyguy » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:38 am

bootsy wrote:
Listyguy wrote:
bootsy wrote:Like most of this board who know nothing outside of The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan and other 60s 70s rock. How bout opening your mind a little bit and learn some other genres of music which you clearly lack.
You cleary know nothing about this board based on
this. God forbid someone have a different opinion than you.
You don't either. Look man I can express my opinion any way I want and in this case if it something that I feel strongly about then I'm going to express it strongly. Give me a break with 'God forbid someone have a different than me' that i just fall in because that's the way you want it to be. Well i didn't so 'God forbid someone for responding strongly to your opinion' because you'd get your panties in a bunch if some one challenged your opinion. 'Well he's not supposed to challenge my opinion, it's supposed to be over after i express my opinion'. You wouldn't last two minutes in a damn debate.

Furthermore when someone says about R. Kelly
'His most famous song I Believe I Can Fly is a schmaltz-bomb. His other famous work is a bloated mess of terrible narrative. He's the opposite of a good songwriter' tells me that this person knows nothing about R. Kelly and instead of finding out about what he's done as far as writing they resort to some lazy bullsh like this. That's not an opinion that should go without a response but according to you I should just be quiet and accept because it's an opinion and it should go unanswered.
Between Jirin and myself we have almost 2500 posts on the forum but yeah we know nothing about it. What you need to realize is it's not your opinions we disagree with, it's your brash and obnoxious way of expressing them.

Also Pierre, Biggie is on the list

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Pierre » Sat Aug 15, 2015 12:44 pm

Listyguy wrote: Also Pierre, Biggie is on the list
Indeed, missed him, my bad. Of course, what I said remains true for my other examples.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Listyguy » Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:43 pm

Another notable omission, assuming it's not just lyrics they're concerned with, is DJ shadow.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by luney6 » Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:46 pm

They missed a lot of people. As far as I can tell, no Nick Cave, Robert Wyatt or Tim Buckley. Oh, an as Doc Brown already said, Tom Waits at 55. It's a traversity. But then again it's Rolling Stone, so that was kind of expected. It is a rather boring list, at any rate. I also feel that Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen should in th top 10.

As it happens, I also disagree with the inclusion of R.Kelly and Taylor Swift among others. No offense or anything to bootsy. I like R.Kelly and I have heard all his songs that you have mentioned, among others. They contain some clever song-writing, but in comparison, I personally don't think that they would rank among the 100 greatest of ALL TIME. I feel like they included Taylor Swift only because, if, in the future, she becomes really big, they can say that they predicted it. Because I feel like she hasn't released anything that good yet.
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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by luney6 » Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:50 pm

Also, Pete Townhend and David Bowie should be higher. Not to mention the omission of Captain Beefheart. An did I miss Jim Morrison?
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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by stone37 » Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:02 pm

Listyguy wrote:I anteresting they put Lennon behind McCartney. I like Paul's music more, but John is definitely a better songwriter. A lot of McCartney's songs are sillier.
Listguy,

Generally, McCartney is considered the superior writer in terms of melody. He was also the superior arranger and musician (but obviously those last two strengths don't factor into songwriter rankings). For Rolling Stone, it was a bold move to rank Paul above John. But I think an accurate placement.

The list also made some other nice calls. For example, Mitchell in the top 10, H-D-H in the top 20, Max Martin in the top 50. Nilsson in the top 100. Moreover, while people will always accuse RS of worshiping the 60s and 70s, it is interesting to note that some of the usual suspects (Hendrix, Page-Plant, Jim Morrison) did not make the cut.

But like any list, there are some strange choices. There are probably few people in the AM forum who love Gaye/Terrell duets more than I fp, but it is hard to put Ashford and Simpson (whose legacy basically revolves around 10 songs) over the entire output of REM. George Harrison, who I like a lot, is also ranked a bit high.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by DocBrown » Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:38 pm

Excellent analysis, Stone37! Good of you to point out these strengths rather than focusing on the obvious weaknesses.

Also, your comment re: Ashford/Simpson disproved something I was thinking; that perhaps the reason Townes, Elliot Smith and perhaps Nick Drake were omitted was their relatively small catalogues, but compared to some of these artists, they were down right prolific.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Listyguy » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:02 pm

stone37 wrote:
Listyguy wrote:I anteresting they put Lennon behind McCartney. I like Paul's music more, but John is definitely a better songwriter. A lot of McCartney's songs are sillier.
Listguy,

Generally, McCartney is considered the superior writer in terms of melody. He was also the superior arranger and musician (but obviously those last two strengths don't factor into songwriter rankings). For Rolling Stone, it was a bold move to rank Paul above John. But I think an accurate placement.

The list also made some other nice calls. For example, Mitchell in the top 10, H-D-H in the top 20, Max Martin in the top 50. Nilsson in the top 100. Moreover, while people will always accuse RS of worshiping the 60s and 70s, it is interesting to note that some of the usual suspects (Hendrix, Page-Plant, Jim Morrison) did not make the cut.

But like any list, there are some strange choices. There are probably few people in the AM forum who love Gaye/Terrell duets more than I fp, but it is hard to put Ashford and Simpson (whose legacy basically revolves around 10 songs) over the entire output of REM. George Harrison, who I like a lot, is also ranked a bit high.
I can definitely see both sides of the argument for both. Honestly I don't think Morrison should be on this list, his lyrics are definitely not worthy of placement here. Jimi's probably aren't either (and I love Jimi), though his musical songwriting does 100%

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Honorio » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:08 pm

bootsy wrote:Like most of this board who know nothing outside of The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan and other 60s 70s rock. How bout opening your mind a little bit and learn some other genres of music which you clearly lack.
bootsy please…
This is not true (and you know it).
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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Blanco » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:30 pm

Pierre wrote:
Harold wrote:They probably shouldn't have labeled the list "...of All Time," as that raises questions about omissions like Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Ellington, etc. (basically, anyone to whom Ella Fitzgerald's devoted an album).

I think most people seeing the list will mentally revise the title to something like "Greatest Songwriters Since the Generally-Accepted Advent of Rock Music in the Mid-1950s," but "All Time," to quote one of the writers on the list, means forever and that's a mighty long time.
JR wrote:As a English publication, I wouldn't expect RS to include foreign-language songwriters- it's rare that foreign-language music is included in U.S.-based lists.
Then, to combine both, this is the list of the "Greatest English-Speaking Songwriters Since the Generally-Accepted Advent of Rock Music in the Mid-1950s from an American Standpoint". It therefore becomes a list I don't have any interest in. Rolling Stone, you really have to renew your writer pool and scope...
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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Blanco » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:35 pm

Honorio wrote:This is not true (and you know it).
This is not fair (and you know it).
You should apologize (and you know it).
Sounds like the chorus of a good song! Are we seeing the next Spanish hit? Maybe. Who knows?!

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Bruno » Sat Aug 15, 2015 11:35 pm

:music-guitarred:

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Jackson » Sun Aug 16, 2015 5:19 pm

luney6 wrote:They missed a lot of people. As far as I can tell, no Nick Cave, Robert Wyatt or Tim Buckley. Oh, an as Doc Brown already said, Tom Waits at 55. It's a traversity. But then again it's Rolling Stone, so that was kind of expected. It is a rather boring list, at any rate. I also feel that Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen should in th top 10.
Robert Wyatt and Tim Buckley are great artists but I can live with them not being on a songwriters list. Nick Cave on the other hand is a ridiculous oversight - he's been pumping out great rock songs for 4 decades now.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Gillingham » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:10 am

Not going to complain about the list too much, that's been covered here already.

But, I do wonder (it's been touched before) if they were focussing just on lyric writing skills with this list, or also on music. Just lyric-wise the separate Beatles and Stones, Berry, Wilson etc. shouldn't have been this high and a lot more rap-artists should have been on the list (they should have been anyway, but that's besides the point). Then again, if music was an important factor, I wouldn't have expected them to put Dylan in first or Gurhtie so high, or Bowie and Radiohead so low. Rather strange...

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Rob » Wed Aug 19, 2015 6:51 pm

I kind of expected this kind of list from Rolling Stone, but I surprise myself by being quite annoyed by it. It is too much of a Rolling Stone type of list. It seems that they really listen to a very limited amount of music. I don't even mean so much that they omit foreign language music or most modern of pre-rock recording, but even in the time and place they focus on they seem to revolve around the same group time and again, even in a list as this, that actually screams for looking outside the comfort zone.

I'm confused too about how much this placement is based on lyric writing or tune writing. Though you can't separate these entirely, they are also too distinct arts to make them go together easily, which is probably the reason this list is so hard to follow. Musically, Chuck Berry was very innovative, but his words never seemed to mean more than something to sing along to the tunes to. As a lyricist I think he is hard to defend with a fourth position. In fact, I wouldn't let him anywhere near the top 100 and I feel that goes for most of the early rock singers, from Buddy Holly to Fats Domino. They're singing and music is iconic, but their words aren't all that brilliant and neither did it seem they wanted to be.

To be honest, lyrics usually mean a lot to me and as someone with a great interest in language and writing I am probably more picky than others when it comes to this. My preferences can be a bit literary. My own list would likely be based around music genres that put the lyric on the forefront, like much folk, rap and of course the singer-songwriters. Indie and alternative rock also have rather good traditions in lyrics. Other genres, like rock 'n roll, metal, soul and funk seem to have less interest in it, even though there are exceptions (Curtis Mayfield comes to mind). I can see why Rolling Stone would include writers from other genres, but here they give them too much credit. Though that could be personal. It doesn't mean I don't like these artists or their songs, but I don't listen to them for the lyrics. For example, The Beach Boys are among my favorite bands, but definitely not because of the words. Brian Wilson has no business here.

Its true that perhaps none of these people listed is really bad as a writer (I'd argue there is one, but I'll come to that in a minute), but it just isn't enough. Honestly, I think Paul McCartney is an average lyricist, no matter how good of a singer or tune smith he is. He has his moments, but he doesn't deserve a place in this top 100 if you ask me. Lennon is a lot better, but I would put him more around 50 or somewhat lower. Kanye West is obviously a placeholder for rap and it is strange he is put above word wizard Eminem in that regard. And so on and so on.

Now, about that one writer here I think is bad: it's going to be a controversial choice I suspect, but really it is #5 Smokey Robinson. I actively dislike his lyrics. He writes poetry for beginners, by which I mean high school stuff at best, but mostly grade school texts. A bit "My First Poems", written by kinds who have first discovered rhymes and talk about love and things like that from here-say. Robinson is a gifted music writer, but he actually writes lyrics that can really take a song down, because of how cheesy or childish they sound. In short, I really don't get his reputation.

How would I make this list better? There is no beginning with such a mess. Dylan on top is the only thing that feels completely right. There are too much omissions to mention and some have called them out here already. Then there are odd low placements by the likes of Tom Waits, Patti Smith and the whole of rap music (except Kanye West).

One more thing about the omission of non-English music, this is a point frequently raised here. Deservedly, but if this list is really based on lyric writing I think we are getting in a difficult territory here. Lets face it: nobody can appreciate lyrics in a language they can't understand. I barely speak French so if I would make a personal list of 100 favorite music writers Jacques Brel would be excluded by default. I completely believe he is a brilliant writer, but even if I faithfully translate his songs I still miss the actual flow of the words, the rhyme, the color of the language and some untranslatable word play. My list could only contain people who write in Dutch, English or German, even if I wouldn't be surprised if the best writer only writes in Korean. And there is no one on this planet and no one on this site who could make a comprehensive list about songwriters encompassing all languages, unless you want to go by hearsay. Rolling Stone comes from an English language speaking country. To bad, but do many Spanish lists of the type include any songs written in Dutch, German or Korean? I doubt it. There's no way to start with such a thing.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Romain » Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:37 pm

Very well written Rob, even for a pretty bad english speaker like me, I found the idears very clearly expressed.

For your last paragraph is quite fair and the biggest problem comes from the title obviously.


(But if you want one day found a really incredible french songwriter (and a lot are very good, the words in french chansons are far more important than the music), I think Brassens is the better.)

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by Blanco » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:01 pm

Rob wrote:And there is no one on this planet and no one on this site who could make a comprehensive list about songwriters encompassing all languages, unless you want to go by hearsay. Rolling Stone comes from an English language speaking country. To bad, but do many Spanish lists of the type include any songs written in Dutch, German or Korean? I doubt it. There's no way to start with such a thing.
Just as Romain said, the problem is in the title. Any list of albums, songs, or whatever, with only results in Spanish, it will never be called "The Greatest (x) of All Time." Usually these lists specify "in Spanish". The problem from my point of view is not the fact that the results are restricted to English because that's all they know, for me the problem is that the people who read these lists really believe that this is better than anything else, no matter where in the world is the reader. And then they decide to look no further.

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Re: Rolling Stone: The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time

Post by The Rug Rat » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:10 pm

Rob wrote:Musically, Chuck Berry was very innovative, but his words never seemed to mean more than something to sing along to the tunes to. As a lyricist I think he is hard to defend with a fourth position. In fact, I wouldn't let him anywhere near the top 100
You're missing a lot if you don't think that Chuck's lyrics were anything more than something to sing along to.

http://www.reasontorock.com/artists/chuck_berry.html


As good as Berry’s music was, however, his lyrics proved just as ground-breaking. Sterling Morrison, member of the group Velvet Underground, said: “I liked Chuck Berry as a guitar player. But I liked him better as a lyricist. There was a lot more depth there, and the rhythm of his lyrics was fabulous.” (Fricke 1995) While the lyrics of other early rock songs continued pop traditions of endless variations on obvious romantic themes, or at best simply reflected current popular culture, Berry’s words transcended and commented on the youth culture he was addressing, usually in a comic way. “Memphis,” for example, starts as a traditional country song, sung by a man trying to connect with a girl he is missing. It is only in the last two lines of the song that he finally reveals that the girl he is trying to contact is his six year old daughter. Other songs dealt with the frustrations of being at the mercy of adults, as with “Too Much Monkey Business.” Berry often wrote about cars, and their role in youthful relationships, as in “Maybellene” and “No Particular Place to Go.”

Berry was one of the first, as well, to write about the music that he and others were creating. “Rock’n Roll Music” and “Roll Over, Beethoven” were two of his classics on this theme. He was also one of the first to observe the ability of the music to liberate those who played it from their humble beginnings, as in his triumphant “Johnny B. Goode.”

This combination of great music and words resulted in Chuck Berry easily becoming the rock songwriter who has most frequently had his songs covered by other rockers. Artists as divergent as Buddy Holly, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and the Beach Boys all recorded Chuck Berry tunes, to name just a few.

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