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Best American Songwriter

Personally I would pick Hank Williams and Dolly Parton

Overall: I think Sondheim and Bob Dylan are the best. I think their writings are the best examples that a difficult song about a difficult subject can be done well, be witty, and be remembered, and still be art that reflects the American culture without fear.

by Anonymousreply 122January 31, 2022 11:28 AM

OP, Dolly Parton's lyrics are NOT well written, even if you allow for them being so colloquial.

by Anonymousreply 1January 17, 2022 6:41 PM

Hoagy Carmichael

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by Anonymousreply 2January 17, 2022 6:41 PM



by Anonymousreply 3January 17, 2022 6:43 PM

Springsteen would be my nominee.

by Anonymousreply 4January 17, 2022 6:43 PM

I hope r3 is satire

by Anonymousreply 5January 17, 2022 6:45 PM

Well, if you want someone who did both music and lyrics, I would choose Cole Porter or Irving Berlin.

It's hard if you don't specify genre--writing great songs for the Great American Songbook is so different for writing songs for country or for rock.

by Anonymousreply 6January 17, 2022 6:45 PM

r6 Yeah, genre is necessary and I'd go further with time period, maybe even year or decade, and region/stage/general location. And they'd have to set some formal boundaries too.. like profit and prolific.

I can rattle off a long list of names of songwriters many never heard of (which tends to piss off a crowd)... unless they were reading the liner notes of popular albums.

by Anonymousreply 7January 17, 2022 6:53 PM

Cole Porter

Carole King

by Anonymousreply 8January 17, 2022 6:55 PM

Steven foster

by Anonymousreply 9January 17, 2022 6:55 PM

Smokey Robinson

by Anonymousreply 10January 17, 2022 6:56 PM

Julian Casablancas

by Anonymousreply 11January 17, 2022 6:56 PM

For lyrics alone, Bob Dylan.

For everything together, Stevie Wonder.

by Anonymousreply 12January 17, 2022 7:13 PM

Jimmy Webb

by Anonymousreply 13January 17, 2022 7:19 PM

For lyrics and music, Cole Porter.

by Anonymousreply 14January 17, 2022 7:46 PM


by Anonymousreply 15January 17, 2022 7:54 PM

R14 Porter is the best American non-Jewish song writer. Unfortunately his rhymes are usually a bit too predictable and punny at times. He has some great ones, but he is outclassed by Sondheim, Hammerstein, Berlin, and Gershwin.

by Anonymousreply 16January 17, 2022 7:59 PM

Deep Thoughts, by...

by Anonymousreply 17January 17, 2022 8:21 PM

Chrissie Hynde.

by Anonymousreply 18January 17, 2022 8:23 PM

Can people posting share maybe 10 songs they think are examples of why their songwriter is the best?

I said Prince so I'll top back up my case I'll offer

1. Nothing Compares 2 U

2. Kiss

3. Purple Rain

4. I Feel For You

5. Diamonds & Pearls

6. I Wanna Be Your Lover

7. I Wish You Heaven

8. Love Thy Will Be Done

9. Manic Monday

10. 1999

by Anonymousreply 19January 17, 2022 8:38 PM

I like the Jimmy Webb and Carole King picks.

by Anonymousreply 20January 17, 2022 8:41 PM

George Gershwin you stupid twats.

by Anonymousreply 21January 17, 2022 8:59 PM

I picked Jimmy Webb:

Wichita Lineman


Up Up and Away

MacArthur Park

By the Time I get to Phoenix

The Worst That Could Happen

Do What You Gotta Do


by Anonymousreply 22January 17, 2022 9:24 PM

Cole Porter

Johnny Mercer

The Gershwins

R & H

by Anonymousreply 23January 17, 2022 9:28 PM

Lorenz Hart

by Anonymousreply 24January 17, 2022 9:38 PM

Brian Wilson

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by Anonymousreply 25January 17, 2022 9:59 PM

[quote]He has some great ones, but he is outclassed by Sondheim, Hammerstein, Berlin, and Gershwin.

Sondheim did not write melodies like Cole Porter though. This is why I think Porter is the better of the two.

Sondheim made better shows (mostly), but Cole Porter wrote more lasting songs.

by Anonymousreply 26January 17, 2022 10:47 PM

Johnny Mercer

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by Anonymousreply 27January 17, 2022 10:55 PM

People actually went to see Cole Porter shows, unlike Sondheim's.

by Anonymousreply 28January 17, 2022 11:09 PM

Sondheim admired Porter the most of the Great American Songbook composers, I think. (He also hugely admired Dorothy Fields as a lyricist.)

by Anonymousreply 29January 17, 2022 11:36 PM

I remember watching an old Oprah episode with Maya Angelou. Oprah asked her who the greatest American poet was and without missing a beat she said Hank Williams.

by Anonymousreply 30January 17, 2022 11:41 PM

Patti Smith

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by Anonymousreply 31January 17, 2022 11:47 PM

[quote]Oprah asked her who the greatest American poet was and without missing a beat she said Hank Williams.

No better judge of poetry than Maya Angelou!

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by Anonymousreply 32January 18, 2022 12:03 AM

Barry Gibb

by Anonymousreply 33January 18, 2022 2:54 AM

Oh fuck, AMERICAN songwriter. Sorry Barry, I misread.

by Anonymousreply 34January 18, 2022 2:59 AM

R28 What are you talking about. The ONLY Porter musical that is ever played, and usually by only high school theater, is Kiss Me Kate. That and Du Berry Was A Lady are the only works of his that have any significance.

Meanwhile Follies was JUST performed on the West End, and West Side Story is on Broadway AND in cinema. Gypsy is revived once a decade it seems. Sweeny Todd and Into The Woods are very popular.

No serious scholar of musical theater or even any amateur fan would argue that Cole Porter has anywhere near the impact on Musicals as Sondheim.

by Anonymousreply 35January 18, 2022 10:48 AM

A. P. Carter basically invented both country music and most of rock and roll.

by Anonymousreply 36January 18, 2022 11:36 AM

Jerome Kern

by Anonymousreply 37January 18, 2022 11:42 AM

Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter

by Anonymousreply 38January 18, 2022 12:38 PM

In fairness, Cole Porter got his start when musicals were just random collections of catchy songs strung together with some dialogue.

Stephen Sondheim benefited from coming long after that was no longer the popular style. He also benefited from coming after Cole Porter, who showed how witty songs could be.

by Anonymousreply 39January 18, 2022 1:19 PM

Stephin Merritt, if only for 69 Love Songs, but he has plenty more classic albums and songs.

by Anonymousreply 40January 18, 2022 1:20 PM

R39 Points well taken!

by Anonymousreply 41January 18, 2022 1:54 PM

Mariah Carey. Duh!!!!

by Anonymousreply 42January 18, 2022 6:46 PM

Everyone knows the best song ever is 867-5309 by tommy tune

by Anonymousreply 43January 18, 2022 6:51 PM

Janet Jackson! End of discussion

by Anonymousreply 44January 18, 2022 7:07 PM

R44 did Janet sing 867 -5309?

by Anonymousreply 45January 18, 2022 8:05 PM

Steven Foster was the first American songwriter, and still the best.

by Anonymousreply 46January 19, 2022 1:16 AM

My picks would be Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Decent lyrics, great melodies. Usually, most songwriters are skewed disproportionately towards one or the other, rarely both.

by Anonymousreply 47January 19, 2022 1:36 AM

OP, does all of your musical knowledge come from what you read on the DL when you're drunk, by any chance?

by Anonymousreply 48January 19, 2022 1:54 AM

Sondheim is far superior to Porter (and everyone else mentioned in this thread), but Anything Goes is performed all the time, far more than Kiss Me, Kate. Sutton recently brought her production to London, where it is still running with replacements.

Porter had an enormous impact on popular music in his day.

Sondheim is in another league altogether. Follies, Night Music, Company, Passion, Sweeney, Into the Woods, Assassins, Pacific Overtures, Merrily, Anyone Can Whistle, Forum- no one else has written words and music like this before or since. This doesn’t even include WSS, Waltz and Gypsy.

by Anonymousreply 49January 19, 2022 2:09 AM


by Anonymousreply 50January 19, 2022 2:28 AM

r35, we were NOT asked about who wrote the most consistently performed musicals. We were asked specifically who is the best American [bold]songwriter.[/bold]

I would put the author of both the words and the music to "Night and Day," "Begin the Beguine," "Let's Misbehave," "You're the Top," "I Get a Kick out of You," "I Concentrate on You," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Well, Did You Evah!", "You'd Be So Easy to Love," "Love for Sale," "Let's Do It," "I Happen to Like New York," "Just One of Those Things," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," "Another Op'ning, Another Show," "So in Love," "Too Darn Hot," "From This Moment On," "I'm Always True to You, Darling, in My Fashion," and "All Through the Night" against Stephen Sondheim any day of the week.

by Anonymousreply 51January 19, 2022 2:33 AM

R47 - I'd say Smokey Robinson was a far better songwriter than Gaye or Wonder.

by Anonymousreply 52January 19, 2022 7:03 AM

R47 R52 Girls! Girls! You BOTH have had taste!

by Anonymousreply 53January 19, 2022 7:22 AM

Girls, girls, you’re giving the artist credit for the songwriters’ work.

Holland-Dozier-Holland is on this list, for sure.

by Anonymousreply 54January 19, 2022 7:45 AM

Not really 54 - Smokey wrote Tears Of A Clown, I Second That Emotion, The Tracks Of My Tears, Going To A Go-Go, Shop Around, What's So Good About Good-by, You Really Got A Hold On Me...

FFS - for Tears Of A Clown on its own he should be considered number 1.

by Anonymousreply 55January 19, 2022 7:53 AM

Leonard Cohen you idiots!

by Anonymousreply 56January 19, 2022 8:12 AM

The best American songwriting team is indisputably Holland-Dozier-Holland. They rival Lennon/McCartney for pop genius. How many of these songs can you sing?

"Heat Wave" Martha and the Vandellas

"Mickey's Monkey" Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

"Where Did Our Love Go" The Supremes

"Baby Love" The Supremes

"Come See About Me" The Supremes

"How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" The Four Tops

"Stop! In the Name of Love" The Supremes

"Nowhere to Run" Martha and the Vandella

"Back in My Arms Again" The Supremes

"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" The Four Tops

"It's the Same Old Song" The Four Tops

"I Hear a Symphony" The Supremes

"My World Is Empty Without You" The Supremes

"Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart" The Supremes

"You Can't Hurry Love" The Supremes

"Reach Out I'll Be There" The Four Tops

"You Keep Me Hangin' On" The Supremes

"Standing in the Shadows of Love" Four Tops

"I'm Ready for Love" Martha and the Vandellas

"Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" The Supremes

"Baby I Need Your Loving" Johnny Rivers

"Jimmy Mack" Martha and the Vandellas

"Bernadette" Four Tops

"The Happening" The Supremes

"Reflections" The Supremes

"In and Out of Love" The Supremes

"You Keep Me Hangin' On" The Supremes

"Give Me Just a Little More Time" Chairmen of the Board

"Band of Gold" Freda Payne

"How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" Marvin Gaye

"This Old Heart of Mine" The Isley Brothers

Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)"

by Anonymousreply 57January 19, 2022 8:13 AM


by Anonymousreply 58January 19, 2022 8:18 AM

Leonard Cohen was Canadian you moron R56

by Anonymousreply 59January 19, 2022 8:33 AM

Franz Schubert, little known American composer

by Anonymousreply 60January 19, 2022 8:45 AM

John Prine

by Anonymousreply 61January 19, 2022 8:46 AM

R59 So no Neil Young either?

by Anonymousreply 62January 19, 2022 8:48 AM

Well no. Nor Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams or that bloke from Men Without Hats.

by Anonymousreply 63January 19, 2022 9:11 AM

It's Irving Berlin, by my calculations.

by Anonymousreply 64January 19, 2022 9:21 AM

r52 I disagree. Gaye's songs are timeless, and Wonder's best work is often lesser-known album tracks rather than the hits.

by Anonymousreply 65January 19, 2022 9:32 AM

Sondheim is the only one who can do it all. The ONLY one. Follies alone proved how many styles he is able to write in.

by Anonymousreply 66January 19, 2022 9:44 AM

Burt & Hal

by Anonymousreply 67January 19, 2022 9:58 AM

Jerome Kern is fine, if you want to be bored to death.

by Anonymousreply 68January 19, 2022 2:04 PM

[quote]I'd say Smokey Robinson was a far better songwriter than Gaye or Wonder

Stevie Wonder would often dumb down for a popular hit, making saccharine crock like 'I Just Called to Say I Love You'. But when serious, very few songwriters could match him for introspection. 'They Won't Go When I Go' for example is, for me, peak Stevie. Fucking masterpiece.

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by Anonymousreply 69January 19, 2022 3:00 PM

Another example of how effortlessly beautiful melodies and great lyrics came to Stevie. The genius is how it all seemed so simple and uncomplicated.

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by Anonymousreply 70January 19, 2022 3:05 PM

Stephin Merritt is a fine songwriter.

Too bad he's a huge prisspot and cunt.

by Anonymousreply 71January 19, 2022 3:14 PM

Without question, it is Ron Miller and Kenneth Hirsch, who wrote "I've Never Been to Me."

by Anonymousreply 72January 19, 2022 4:48 PM


by Anonymousreply 73January 19, 2022 4:48 PM

Joni Mitchell

by Anonymousreply 74January 19, 2022 6:47 PM

Oscar Hammerstein.

Look on his works, ye doubters, and despair.

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by Anonymousreply 75January 19, 2022 6:51 PM

R74 Joni is among the all time greats but regardless of her current domicile, I think most people would think of her as Canadian.

by Anonymousreply 76January 19, 2022 9:41 PM

Ron Mael

by Anonymousreply 77January 19, 2022 11:44 PM

Anyone who doesn't think the correct answer is "Steven Foster" doesn't know anything about American music.

Foster wrote this song over 150 years ago. And even after all that time, it is still better than 99% of the stuff written since 2000.

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by Anonymousreply 78January 21, 2022 12:45 AM

What era? Gershwin was a genius. Sondheim too. Joni Mitchell and Dylan. Rodgers, Berlin, Arlen, - kind of a silly question.

by Anonymousreply 79January 21, 2022 1:17 AM

I would say Bob Dylan for lyrics alone, Sondheim and Brian Wilson for the full package. Wilson is a bona fide genius.

by Anonymousreply 80January 21, 2022 1:22 AM

Stephen Foster

by Anonymousreply 81January 21, 2022 1:27 AM

I'm not a country fan but Willie Nelson was pretty prolific if I recall correctly.

by Anonymousreply 82January 22, 2022 10:12 AM

in no particular order

Bacharach and David

Smokey Robinson

Lionel Richie

Dolly Parton

Holland Dozier Holland

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Nicks

Paul Simon

Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson

Sam Cooke

by Anonymousreply 83January 22, 2022 10:58 AM

I gave Stevie Wonder the edge over Smokey Robinson because Stevie is a lot more experimental and always finding new ways to write incredible songs. If you combined the two of them, they’d be the American answer to the Beatles, with Smokey being the earlier period and Stevie representing Rubber Soul and beyond.

Stevie is also a child prodigy and genius.

by Anonymousreply 84January 22, 2022 11:04 AM

Also, for someone who's been blind since birth, Stevie has incredibly vivid descriptions in his lyrics.

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by Anonymousreply 85January 22, 2022 11:43 AM

One of my favourite Stevie Wonder songs is 'Stay Gold' from 'The Outsiders'. Absolutely beautiful.

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by Anonymousreply 86January 22, 2022 11:50 AM

“Stay Straight” by Stevie Wonder

by Anonymousreply 87January 22, 2022 11:56 AM

Don Van Vliet. A song like "Moonlight on Vermont" or "Ella Guru" really says it all, IMO.

by Anonymousreply 88January 22, 2022 3:02 PM

Fats Waller The anonymous sleeve notes on the 1960 RCA Victor album Handful of Keys state that Waller copyrighted over 400 songs, many of them co-written with his closest collaborator, Andy Razaf. Razaf described his partner as "the soul of melody...a man who made the piano sing...both big in body and in mind... known for his generosity... a bubbling bundle of joy".

Waller is believed to have composed many novelty tunes in the 1920s and 1930s and sold them for small sums,[3] attributed to another composer and lyricist.[15]

And I agree with his own hype. As I listen to him more & more, this dude invented Jazz.

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by Anonymousreply 89January 22, 2022 7:42 PM

Stevie really is a genius, r84. Some of my favourite lyrics are from "Pastime Paradise":

[italic]They've been spending most their lives Living in a pastime paradise They've been spending most their lives Living in a pastime paradise They've been wasting most of their time Glorifying days long gone behind They've been wasting most their days In remembrance of ignorance oldest praise [/italic]


[italic]They've been spending most their lives Living in a future paradise They've been spending most their lives Living in a future paradise They've been looking in their minds For the day that sorrow's lost from time They keep telling of the day When the savior of love will come to stay[/italic]

Take that MAGAts.

A top-rate musician, a poet and a goddamn prophet. For me, the clear winner.

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by Anonymousreply 90January 23, 2022 10:10 AM

^ To be clear, the first quoted verse could be applied to MAGAts today, and the second to the victims of racism and discrimination.

by Anonymousreply 91January 23, 2022 10:23 AM

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds was very prolific in the 90s.

by Anonymousreply 92January 23, 2022 10:44 PM

Rickie Lee Jones

by Anonymousreply 93January 23, 2022 10:53 PM

Somebody mentioned this to me and I found it to be mostly true: you can’t be an atheist and be a good songwriter, or any kind of artist, for that matter. Great art requires some kind of belief in the supernatural. Something to think about.

by Anonymousreply 94January 24, 2022 12:09 AM

Deep Thoughts, by...

by Anonymousreply 95January 24, 2022 12:32 AM

^ Still true.

by Anonymousreply 96January 24, 2022 4:21 AM

Randy Newman.

by Anonymousreply 97January 24, 2022 9:05 AM

Bob Dylan isn't very musical, but clever lyrics.

by Anonymousreply 98January 28, 2022 8:29 AM

Cole Porter and Bob Dylan

by Anonymousreply 99January 28, 2022 8:51 AM

Diane Warren? Yes, a little cringey.

However, definitely. Carole King!…and James Taylor.

Eric Clapton, except his British.

Babyface (Kenneth Edmunds).

Smokey Washington.

Brian Wilson.

Harry Nilsson.

Bruce Springsteen.

Bob Dylan.

by Anonymousreply 100January 28, 2022 9:26 AM

Shit, I forgot Joni Mitchell.

by Anonymousreply 101January 28, 2022 9:27 AM

Hall & Oates.

by Anonymousreply 102January 28, 2022 9:31 AM


by Anonymousreply 103January 28, 2022 9:32 AM

Crosby, Stills & Nash.

by Anonymousreply 104January 28, 2022 9:33 AM

Laura Nyro.

by Anonymousreply 105January 28, 2022 9:35 AM

Steely Dan.

by Anonymousreply 106January 28, 2022 9:39 AM

Three Dog Night.

by Anonymousreply 107January 28, 2022 9:42 AM

Chrissie Hynde/The Pretenders.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.

by Anonymousreply 108January 28, 2022 9:45 AM

R100 in what world are James Taylor, Babyface and Dianne Warren considered great songwriters? It’s not a matter of taste to insist that a bar of some talent be dictated. One had one famous song about rehab, another has never had a great singer lower themselves to sing their shit, and one you just find attractive. Talent isn’t defined by fame, hit songs, or the ability to distract with non-related issues.

by Anonymousreply 109January 28, 2022 10:12 AM

I agree. It depends on longevity and what songs that are consistently played on broadcast radio and Spotify over decades, as opposed to self-centered preferences.

by Anonymousreply 110January 28, 2022 10:16 AM

Are you referring to Amy Whitehouse and “Rehab”? I don’t see her mentioned on this list. A good song at least.

by Anonymousreply 111January 28, 2022 10:19 AM

I don’t find any of them attractive, as you suggest…good grief.

by Anonymousreply 112January 28, 2022 10:21 AM

Yes, we're not asking who wrote the most hit singles, but who consistently wrote the best songs.

by Anonymousreply 113January 28, 2022 10:59 AM

Marvin Gaye is very underrated on this thread.

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by Anonymousreply 114January 28, 2022 11:00 AM

Please stop submitting Canadians and British people.

by Anonymousreply 115January 28, 2022 2:55 PM

Joni Mitchell just earned our respect.

by Anonymousreply 116January 29, 2022 3:51 PM

Neither Amy Winehouse nor Joni Mitchell are American.

by Anonymousreply 117January 29, 2022 3:53 PM

*That should read, "Neither Amy Winehouse nor Joni Mitchell is American."

"Oh, [italic]dear[/italic]..." to myself.

by Anonymousreply 118January 29, 2022 3:54 PM

Tommy James and the Shondells (60s).

The Carpenters?

Heart (Ann & Nancy Wilson).

The Mamas and Pappas.

by Anonymousreply 119January 30, 2022 9:11 AM

Dolly Parton

Willie Nelson

Cole Porter

Ira Gershwin

Hank Williams

Bob Dylan

by Anonymousreply 120January 30, 2022 9:19 AM

R113 We’ve looked at the border from both sides now

by Anonymousreply 121January 30, 2022 9:30 AM

Blondie (Debbie Harry/Chris Stein).

by Anonymousreply 122January 31, 2022 11:28 AM
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