Songwriting is an art form, but some of its most famous artists are more well known for the songs they wrote for other people. Which is why there are no songs in this list about John Lennon, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, et al. Just in case you were wondering...
Someone will still suggest a song about Lennon, you can guarantee it.
10. Nosferatu D2 - I Killed Burt Bacharach
I don't approve of the sentiment, but I love Ben Parker's songwriting, both here and in The Superman Revenge Squad.
9. A - I Love Lake Tahoe
Yeah, the trees are pretty wideA - not a great name for band, though I suppose it got them first place in the Bands section of the Yellow Pages.
That's where Sonny Bono died.
8. Mercury Rev - Tonite It Shows
This gets in because it's the only song I can think of to mention Cole Porter in its lyrics. (There must be more.) Plus it's much better than Dinner With Gershwin by Donna Summer.
Don't get me wrong: I like Donna Summer, but having watched the video for that, my eyeballs have been scorched by some awful 80s dancing.
See also The Coal Porters, obviously.
7. Super Furry Animals - The Very Best Of Neil Diamond
Long before the rhinestone-collared shirts and treacly voice made him a household name, Neil Diamond was just a jobbing songwriter in the Brill Building. There he wrote I'm A Believer for The Monkees, among many other gems.
6. The Boo Radleys - Jimmy Webb Is God
You won't get any argument from me on that one, Boos... which is why this isn't the last song about God in this Top Ten.
Wipe away this tear from my eye5. Pulp - Bob Lind (The Only Way Is Down)
Wash away this sadness from my heart
I'm not even fit to tune your guitar
Oh, Jimmy, make me happy...
Jarvis pays homage to the Elusive Butterfly of 60s folk.
When you think you're treading water, but you're just learning how to drown.4. Prefab Sprout - The Songs of Danny Galway
And a song comes on the radio telling you that "The Only Way is Down".
You're out of luck, you're out of time, get out of here.
Your lover just traded you in for the very same model but a much more recent year.
It will not stop, it will get worse from day to day 'til you admit that you're a fuck-up; like the rest of us.
From one of the best albums of 2013; and their career. Being a bit dim, I didn't realise that this was written about Jimmy until Miller pointed it out to me.
His melodies inspire whims, his chord changes like Baptist hymns3. Billy Bragg - Levi Stubbs' Tears
They lift your spirit til it soars, til you forget that spirit's yours
Sound and word in sweet communion, echoes of a better world
Where chivalry's not dead, we'll look for it instead in the songs of Danny Galway
No, Levi Stubbs wasn't a songwriter: he was the lead singer of The Four Tops. Which is probably the only reason this track doesn't get to Number One with a bullet... in most other Top Tens, Billy's heartbreaking Motown tribute would be unstoppable.
Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong2. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - Doc Pomus
Are here to make right everything that's wrong
Holland & Holland, Lamont Dozier too
Are here to make it all OK with you
Ben & Nick pay tribute to one half of the classic Pomus/Shuman songwriting team. This song made me want to read more about Doc Pomus's life. Stricken by polio as a young boy, Pomus refused to be "one of those happy cripples", pouring his heartache directly into the hits...
And out they pour1. Rumer - P.F. Sloan
The hits and the misses
'Turn Me Loose', 'Lonely Avenue'
And down in Nashville, Elvis sings 'Suspicion':
Pomus / Shuman 1962
And so we return again, inevitably, to Jimmy Webb, with a classic example of his own songwriting, in tribute to a songwriting hero from his early days. Webb's recording of this record is beautiful... but Rumer took it to another level.
Yes, Jimmy Webb is god.
They wrote the songs that made the whole world sing. Which song gets you singing about songwriters?