Top Five Third Songwriters

Some bands have one primary songwriter. Others hash out most of their songs collaboratively (or pretend to), so you can’t really tell who’s contributing what. But a relatively unusual situation is when a group has three distinct songwriters: often two of them will be working in partnership, either artistic (e.g. the Beatles) or romantic (e.g. Sonic Youth). The third songwriter has to fight for space and glory–but if they deliver, then they can be the group’s secret weapon. All hail the third bananas! Five of the greatest:

1. George Harrison (the Beatles)

2. Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac)

3. Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth)

4. Ron Wood (the Rolling Stones)

5. John Oates (Hall and Oates)

Poor John Oates–he’s the third-biggest songwriter in a two-man band (Hall’s ex Sara Allen was his collaborator on many hits).

posted 8 October 2014 in Tasty Bits and tagged . 5 comments

5 Comments on Top Five Third Songwriters

  1. Scott Peterson Says:

    John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)

    Also, I think Lee Ranaldo was actually Sonic Youth’s best songwriter. Not nearly its coolest, but certainly its best musician.

  2. Gavin Says:

    JPJ is an excellent call.

    Queen’s Roger Taylor is a strong candidate too.

    I’m not as fully Camp Ranaldo as you, but if you argued that McVie was actually Fleetwood Mac’s best songwriter, I’d find it hard to disprove it.

  3. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    Tommy Ramone!

  4. Rob Says:

    great list. my nominee: Kathy Valentine from the Go-Gos.

    It’s hard to tell whether Bill Berry or Mike Mills is R.E.M.’s third songwriter–they’re always so discreet about who wrote what. Everybody agrees Berry wrote “Perfect Circle” & “Man on the Moon” & “Everybody Hurts,” while Mills wrote “Electrolite” & “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” (Geez, talk about a deep bench.)

    But I think we can all agree Andy Summer is the worst third songwriter ever.

  5. Gavin Says:

    Izzy Stradlin!

Leave a Reply

Keep up to date with new comments on this post via RSS.