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Good post I might add that 3 of the guys you mention whom I love also(Springsteen,Costello and Knopfler) are so influenced by Dylan it is incredible.:-)
I'm also not sure it's the best way to split the genre but I follow your example.....and yes it's virtually impossible to leave such greats out as Hendrix,The Dooors,Paul Simon,The Smiths,on and on the list would go.....
Dylan, without question. I continue to be shocked by the sheer number of great songs he has penned, many of which were made "hits" by other artists (hell, some artists built their careers largely on the back of Bob tunes).
Garcia-Hunter deserve mention, I'd say. And back to Dylan, look for a release of Dead do Dylan in the not-too-distant. The boyz covered about a dozen of his songs independent of their joint tour.
Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, maybe Bacharach-David, Jimmy Webb (too schmaltzy for many, but I love it). Springsteen, definitely. Thunder Road gets my vote for greatest rock song.
Greatest songwriter of all time? Well, it seems that most are caught-up in their own time. Kinda like weather,..geez "winter's aren't what they use to be"...weather has cycles beyond one's own life-span memory ,..100 year cycles, 1000 year cycles..etc...ice ages..etc.
Perhaps I read the question wrong, but it seems that the
"greatest songwriter of all time", is a different question than "the greatest songwriter of your lifetime".
That said, Dylan, Lennon, Fats Waller, Joplin, Jimmy Rodges, and many others have great merit..but one of the great gifts of music..like poetry, is to reach beyond the narcisism of the narrow perspective of ones own 80(or so)year life span.
But...it's is all good, like is said above..there is only music. And your choices are valid..very valid. But music was not invented....or perfected in the 20th century.
Sorry, this will likely just piss people off.
of course bob and bruce rule. i'm surprised,tho, that no one's put any female singer/songwriters on their lists (but for joni mitchell). how about: carole king, ani defranco, shawn colvin, iris dement? and on the male side, how can pete seeger, jackson browne, james taylor, warren zevon, loudon wainwrigth III and greg brown be left off all the lists thus far? -cfb
Love to read everybody's favorites. Janis ever write anything?--Hoggy's real claim is just Stardust.--Kris Kristopherson,& Willie as well as Hank Williams are right up there; with so many others doing their songs.--I think the mark of a great writer is having so many record their works.John & Paul sure fit this bill.--(even tho I like Georgie's tunes better--Just about all of them).As much as I love Zep & Floyd; You never hear anybody else doing their stuff.Lenard Cohen has a style I love;but as a writer? Jimmy Webb helped make Glen a bunch of bucks & vice versa. This can go on and on --Next up??
I was tearing my hair out over this one as I read the above posts, then I saw it. I agree with Paulwp. For me, it's gotta' be Buddy Holly. But I'd also add Chuck Berry, Leonard Cohen, and I really like much of Melissa Etheridge' lyrics and music. Also Townes Van Zandt, especially for his influence on Cowboy Junkies music. But Whatjd and Marakanetz have it right, IMO, there are only "favorites". Great thread Jeff. Craig
Yeah Craig, Chuck Berry is up there too. I almost mentioned him above. VanZandt of course. Dylan, naturally. My living favorite who hasnt been mentioned is John Hiatt. Among the women, Iris Dement is one of a kind, but I would have to give my vote to Barbara Keith. On her eponymous lp ca 1972, she wrote all the songs but one, Dylan's All Along the Watchtower, which was the weakest song on the record.
For those who think we are stuck in the present, how about Stephen Foster, and Henry Clay Work, Civil War era. "Who Shall Rule This American Nation" is one of my all time favorites.
I thought Dylan was excluded since he had his own thread and, obviously, his own special place in songwriting. So I have four. Put me down for Dylan. This is a fun party game, but, again, I find myself wondering why have such lists. Are music writing and music making a competitive sport? What is this American propensity towards having "Best of..." lists? Are artists like eggs and need to be graded? My reaction is to expand the list, forcing me to sudivide into categories, along the well known and worn lines of standards, folk, country, blues, rock etc. Is the best songwriter the most prolific? The one who year in year out produced the highest quality tunes? The one who produced the best selling tunes? The one who produced a body of work that so influenced others he/she can be put at the head of a list with a series of other people following? How about lyricists who partenered with different composers for the music? I may sound like someone who is no fun and is trying to intellectualize this thing to death, but, trust me, that is not my intention. I just think three choices is really confining and see that a number of posters go well beyond the limit of three. I therefore wish to add, in no particular order: Van Morrison, Lennon & McCartney, Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Ralph McTell, Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams Sr, Georges Brassens, Jimmy Reed, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie and for being able to make them up on the spot, Sam "Lightin'" Hopkins.
cfb-Yes, I have "Poet" also, quite good. I know TVZ didn't write any of the songs on "Cold Dog", but I thought some of the songs GC wrote on it were about, and a tribute to, TVZ. I also recall an article ( S'phile?) about CDS about a year or so ago re same. But then again, the neurons aren't synapsing like they once used to. Age? Possibly. Posited smack dab in the midst of divorce? Naaahhh :-)
I can't resist these parlor games. For the sake of simplicity, I've ruled out the twin tower tandems of Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards.
Hard to narrow it down to three, so how about these groupings?
All-time, men's division
All time, women's division
Townes Van Zandt
Flock of Seagulls
OK, somebody want to start a "most depressing bands" thread?
Agree with Guy Clark being up there - but Cold Dog Soup didn't do it for me. I reckon Dublin Blues, Boats To Build and his live album Keepers are his best. But the "experts" argue his best song writing is on Old No. 1. Eric Taylor, Tom Russell and Townes are worth a mention each. How about Tim Hardin, Tom Waits, Nick Lowe....
The greatest Songwriters are the ones that write the songs that everyone wishes they wrote or the great singers all want to sing. Favorites are another matter.
The Gershwin brothers
Rogers & Hart
Rogers & Hammerstein
Lennon & McCartney
Individual- Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, George M. Cohan (some may debate this but he wrote some memorable songs), Carole King, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, Hoagy Carmichael (just because he wrote Stardust) and THE DUKE
Tubegroover - I Second your nominations Tubegroover. I find it almost impossible to believe that with over 40 posts 2 mentions of Ellington and the Gershwins. And Hoagy too, don't forget he wrote Georgia too, and lots of other wonderful stuff. Stevie Wonder and Lou Reed??? I guess we have to disagree somewhere. Makes me want to look up their catalogue and double check
Well, it's the week-end, take a walk on the wildside.
Sincerely, I remain
It's always good to hear other peoples musical choices. You may not always agree, but that's not really the point. For instance, as much as I love Bob Dylan - just look at my name - I've never thought of him as a "song" writer. He's rock n' roll's greatest lyricist, but his name doesn't come to mind when I think of someone who wrote great tunes. Something with a melody. Go play the melody of one of his songs on an instrument and see.
My vote for the all-time #1 best songwriter in popular music is William "Smokey" Robinson. Honorable mentions to (in no particular order) Ray Davies, Monk, Willie Dixon, Gershwins, Robbie Robertson, Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Ellington/Strayhorn, Robert Johnson, Rodgers/Hart, Chuck Berry, Kurt Weill, Carol King and the Beatles.
My nominations for the three best composers of popular songs are:
1. Antonio Carlos Jobim. (Chega de Saudade, Dindi, Samba de Uma Nota So, Insensatez, Desafinado, Corcovado, Favela, Agua de Beber, Vivo Sohando, Chovendo na Roseira, Aguas de Marco, Amor en Paz/Once I Loved, O Grande Amor, So Danco Samba, Doralice, Meditation, The Girl from Ipanema, etc.)
2. Duke Ellington
3. George Gershwin
After these three, there are many notables: Jerome Kern (All the Things You Are, Yesterdays, A Fine Romance, Dearly Beloved); Irving Berlin (Always, Isn't This a Lovely Day, Blue Skys, Cheek to Cheek); Richard Rogers (Blue Moon, Thou Swell, Bewitched); Cole Porter (Easy to Love, Just One of Those Things, What Is This Thing Called Love, Begin the Beguine); Burt Bacharach; Paul McCartney
Onhwy61-I cannot believe you are serious with that Dylan/tune argument but there's probably been enough Dylan discussion recently...the thread has deviated slightly we were given limited boundaries but on tunes how about Brian Wilson,Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout),Jimmy Webb, latter Fleetwood Mac (Nicks/C.McVie/Buckingham),Carole King etc..the list is nearly endless and on more obscure levels Nick Drake,Scott Walker,Todd Rundgren,Suzanne Vega,Rickie Lee Jones......so many......
Oh stuff it,,,Back to Dylan and tunes..Knockin'On Heaven's Door,Mr Tambourine Man,Every Grain Of Sand,Sugar Baby,Jokerman,One More Cup Of Coffee,Lay Lady Lay surely the greatest song ever written about a chicken,can't think of a single Dylan song without a tune.
In fact occassionally one tune would be so good he'd use on about 6 or 7 different songs.....