1. Leonard Cohen. The man was an established, published poet before he ever set a lyric to music. I don’t understand a third of his lyrics, but they still resonate inside.
2. Bob Dylan, of course.
3. Richard Thompson. A career as long as Dylan’s. Similar output, quantity wise. Newest songs as good as his oldest, some better. Just imagine if he got the same hype and publicity so many others did.
4. @5. tie! John Prine and Kris Kristofferson. They say so much using simple words and melodies.
This is tough to do, maybe even silly, but, the word “living” made it harder. Had that not been there, Hank Williams and Stephen Foster would have replaced two of my picks, I won’t say which two.