The Best Songwriter That Ever Lived
Who is the best songwriter of all time and what makes them the best? Although I have some theories on how to manipulate songs to make them blockbuster hits, the subjectivity is the true discussion.
Some people have a natural gift at picking up the lyrics of songs and singing every last line as if they were the one singing it onstage. I am that big fan at concerts that knows none of the words. I mumble lip sync until the chorus swells where my lyrical footing is briefly found and then quickly vanishes. Miraculously, I don’t even LIKE Bon Jovi but happen to know the lyrics backwards and forwards to Slippery When Wet. Not that I’m proud of this…
There are so many songs that take a couple hundred spins on the iPod before I figure out what the song is about. “Beg, Steal, or Borrow” by Ray LaMontagne (I often wonder if this song is autobiographical). “I’m Gonna Hate You When I Go” by Slow Runner (a gorgeous depiction of am impending break-up). “To Whom It May Concern” by The Civil Wars (painfully exquisite love letter to your future perfect someone).
Obviously, these examples are from newer artists. There are the immediate go-to legendary musicians like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney that are considered to be the best songwriters of all time, thanks to this NPR article published a few years back. But what makes somebody the best? Is it a well worded time-capsule that Dylan is famous for? Is it the clever twist of a rhyme that has catapulted Eminem to global unprecedented respect from the black AND white community? Is it the melody intertwined that escalates a songwriter’s credibility? As well respected as Leonard Cohen is for his songwriting and musical collection, it wasn’t until Jeff Buckley’s reworked and heart-tugging version of “Hallelujah” that it became the showstopping closer for artists merely attempting to cover Buckley’s version.
So who’s the best?