Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Paste Magazine’s 100 greatest living songwriters

I was poking around today and discovered this list, published by Paste magazine, naming their choices for the 100 greatest living songwriters. Of course, most such lists (1000 Gr8ist Novvuls uv al TIM!!!111!!!) are exercises in futility, but still it’s human nature to quibble, isn’t it?

It’s not really that eclectic a list, but, then, Paste focuses mainly on independent “artists.” Even though most of the musicians they cover have major label record deals (I am, in fact, not entirely sure any of the songwriters they mention are truly independent). But that’s a side-issue.

Here’s their top ten:
10. Prince
9. Joni Mitchell
8. Elvis Costello
7. Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)
6. Leonard Cohen
5. Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings)
4. Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan
3. Bruce Springsteen
2. Neil Young (Buffalo Sprinfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
1. Bob Dylan

Not really all that inspiring, you ask me. Seems a bit safe, to me. Nobody on there who really makes you say, “really?”

But still I think they’re ignoring a lot of great artists on the list as a whole. For example, I think my personal top ten greatest living songwriters would be:

1. Roger Clyne
2. Springsteen
3. Paul McCartney
4. Axl Rose
5. Leonard Cohen
6. Tori Amos
7. Bon Jovi
8. Billy Joel
9. Tom Petty
10. Kevin Griffin (Better Than Ezra)

Also on my list would be Dave Matthews, Marshall Mathers (Eminem), Ben Lee, Jack White, Dr. Dre, Joni Mitchell, and Lili Haydn.

I mean, don’t get me wrong; I get most of Paste‘s choices. But Bob Dylan as number one? Really?

That’s a big “meh.”

But as always, I’m looking for recommendations, so who would your choices be?


  1. I think I agree with most of your choices. Leonard Cohen is the standout, I think. I’m also a big fan of Beth Orton’s lyrics.

  2. Kurt Cobain is on neither top ten list I see. I have a BIG problem with that, but I will remain silent. Yep. I’m not even going to express how I feel that’s wrong on many levels by naming all the levels it is wrong on. Nope. Not me.

    I can’t beleive you put Bon Jovi on their though. I mean, you know he feathered his pubes in the 80’s right?

  3. @Alma: Orton is definitely a good choice. I’d put her on my list (though not sure about the top ten).

    @Gotham: Oh! Cobain! Honestly forgot about him. Let’s bump either Petty or Joel to “rest of list” and insert Cobain right after Bon Jovi. Who, let it be said, totally earns his spot, feathered pubes (ha!) or not. I mean, the dude invented “unplugged,” and wrote “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.” I think those two get him a place on their own.

  4. Keep Tom Petty. I forgove you but I don’t know if Cobain’s ghost will. I genuinely like you so I’ll tell how to make amends. You have to make a copy of his music and have some one listen to it. Other wise Kurt Cobain will crawl out of your CD player and kill you within the next seven days and… wait a minute. That would only happend if he was a Japanese pop star. Okay your safe… from him.

    You know, my dad always said who ever invented unplugged should be dragged out into the street and shot. He will be glad to know who deserves this crap. Personally I wouldn’t have a problem with it if they weren’t so snobby about it saying stuff like, “if you can’t perform unplugged it’s not really music.” Bull shit.

  5. Your suppose to argue that Cobain isn’t among the living and their for wouldn’t be on your top ten greatest “living” songwriters.

    Prove Bon Jovi wrote those songs. Prove it.

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