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Bob Dylan is about to release a new album, here are 10 more prolific songwriters.

Edited a few months ago
10 items

Bob Dylan's gift for writing songs procured him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, now in 2020 he's about to release his 39th studio album, an amazing feat of work. Here are ten other artists who share a talent for songwriting.

  • Nirvana
    • Music
    • 4.7/5

    Kurt Cobain's short lived career was to become the anthem of the nineties. Nirvana formed in 1988 and released two ep's and three albums before Cobain's tragic suicide in March 1994. During that short time, Cobain became a cult hero for his soft, tortured outlook. Songs like Polly and Rape Me were brutal, ripping commentaries on society, and perhaps to a degree, also a condemnation of fame and social constructs. Cobain's relationship with fame was a twisted one, while he appreciated his fans and a platform to display his arts, it also seemed to make him more unhappy, and it reflected in his shows and songwriting. Cobain is quoted as saying that he didn't put much thought into his lyrics, writing them minutes before recording songs, but the influence and effect of his songs are undeniable.

  • David Bowie
    • Music
    • 4.8/5

    Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie, was creating groundbreaking music for more than 50 years. He is considered one of the most influential figures in music of the 20th century. Bowie single-handedly changed the music scene in the 70's. Because he reinvented himself so successfully, so often, it is almost impossible to find an artist today who is not influenced by Bowie in some way, across the genres. After his death at the age of 69, having released a tremendous 27 albums, Rolling Stone magazine named him the greatest rockstar of all time.

  • Will Varley
    • Music
    • 5/5

    Will Varley is a hidden gem in the world of songwriting. The 33 year old folk singer has been releasing music since 2011, famously touring his first album "Advert Soundtrack" on foot, walking a total of 130 miles with his guitar on his back, camping next to canals or at the back of venues. His arsenal consists of beautifully written lovesongs, like "Spirit of Minnie", to hilarious, hard hitting satire, like "Monkey on a Rock". But where Varley's brilliance really shows is in his reflective, almost philosophical songs about life. "King for a King" and "Weddings and Wars" are masterworks, currently still vastly underappreciated, but good enough to stand proudly among the greatest songwriters of our time. Varley currently has six full length albums, but is still writing and touring actively.

  • The Beatles
    • Music
    • 4.7/5

    No list about the greats in music would be complete without The Beatles. Formed in 1960, The Beatles have been considered one of the best and most important bands ever since. Not much can be said about the Rock 'n Roll giants that hasn't been said before, they are still the best selling band of all time, they are still one of the most influential acts ever, and every one of their 13 albums is still regarded as brilliant today, 50 years after the band recorded their last one. After shooting to fame in Europe, they are credited with sparking the British invasion of music in America. Thousands and thousands of fans lined up to see them wherever they went. As songwriters, John Lennon and Paul McCartney produced hits like "Hey Jude" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" which were to bring not only them success, but also the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Tom Petty who enjoyed great success covering their songs. When the Beatles toured to America in 1964 they met the subject of this list, Bob Dylan, who reportedly introduced them to cannabis. This meeting shaped both The Beatles and Bob Dylan remarkably, as clear evidence can be seen in their subsequent productions of their influence on one another.

  • The Cure
    • Music
    • 4.8/5

    The Cure has been active since 1978 and they still tour to this day. While the lineup has changed several times over the years, Robert Smith, songwriter and vocalist, has remained the only constant member. Smith's Gothic lyrics and gloomy voice introduced millions of people around the world to a brand new gender, before alternative rock had any success on the charts. The existential sadness and romanticism in the lyrics and the overpowering darkness of their music made for a spectacular, almost cinematic, shows. The Cure have, to date, released 13 full length albums and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Shortly after their induction The Cure announced that they were busy working on 3 new albums.

  • The Smashing Pumpkins
    • Music
    • 4.5/5

    The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan has cemented himself as a songwriting legend with the ten studio albums they have released since their formation in 1988 in Chicago. Corgan, who has been the only permanent fixture on the band's lineup throughout the years, has shown immense flexibility and creativity in the direction he has steered the band's sound. Journalist, William Shaw, described the music as "anguished, bruised reports from Billy Corgan's nightmare-land". His artistic, heart breakingly personal songs shot to fame in America, perhaps reaching its absolute pinnacle with the mammoth production of "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness", the double album with 28 songs, lasting more than two hours. This album saw huge success, with singles like "Bullet with Butterfly Wings", "Zero" and "X.Y.U.". The Smashing Pumpkins are still actively touring and recording.

  • Laura Marling
    • Music
    • 4.4/5

    At only 18 years of age, in 2008, Laura Marling released her first album "Alas I Cannot Swim". Since then, she has released a total of 7 albums as well as 1 under the name LUMP where Mike Lindsay joined her to form a duo. Her songs are haunting and beautiful, complemented by her sweet, melodic voice. Her often dark subject matter contrasts the serine sounds of her acoustic guitar and singing, resulting in a stories-around-the-campfire feeling to her music. While still very young, Marling is poised to become one of the songwriting greats as she gains popularity in Europe.

  • The Libertines
    • Music
    • 4/5

    Pete Doherty of The Libertines is probably better known for his drug scandals and his relationship with Kate Moss than for his songwriting, which is an absolute shame, because along with Carl Barat, he has written some of the best songs of our times. Barat and Doherty formed the Libertines in 1997. They shot to near immediate fame, in a bizarre fashion, playing at local pubs on one evening, to full stadium shows the next, to private performances at their own flat the one after that. In 2004 the band split up, citing Doherty's addiction as the reason, but they reunited in 2010, bringing out a new album and touring since. The Libertines' music had the unique characteristic of sounding nostalgic, not simply of their own youth, but rather of a Dickensian era, filled with grandeur. The songwriting duo often made references to poets and writers of the previous eras, drawing from Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, even reciting a poem by Siegfried Sassoon as they accepted the award for Best UK Band.

  • Leonard Cohen
    • Music
    • 4.7/5

    Leonard Cohen died at the age of 82 in 2016. He released 14 albums during his career of almost 50 years. Cohen was a poet and a novelist, only turning to music at the age of 33. His deep, rough voice added a dark element to his music, grabbing the attention of the listener, and carrying over his message. War, injustice, romance and heartbreak all feature as themes for his songs. Bob Dylan once said that Leonard Cohen was the number 1 songwriter of all time (Dylan regarded himself as number 0). Most notably perhaps, is Leonard Cohen's "Halleluja" which has been widely covered, all over the world, though many would argue that nobody performs it quite like Cohen. In 2017, Cohen was posthumously awarded his final Grammy award for his last album "You Want It Darker".

  • Tom Waits
    • Music
    • 4.7/5

    Despite not having much commercial success, Tom Waits is one of the most influential musicians of our time. His weird, artistic style, influenced by everything from jazz, to blues, to rock, to vaudeville accompanied by his signature, unmistakable raspy voice has attracted a cult following, especially, it appears, with other musicians. Many of the greats, such as R.E.M, The Pixies, The Clash, Metallica, Johnny Cash, The Ramones and Bob Dylan himself have admitted their admiration for his music. His career spans more than 50 years and 16 albums to date, and miraculously he is still writing and performing.

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