Besides being the godmother of punk, Patti Smith also is an acclaimed poet and an award-winning author. So it’s no surprise Smith is the singer with the biggest vocabulary, according to a new study that ranks 200 different music artists based on their song lyrics.
Word.Tips, which conducted the study, found that Smith uses 217 unique words per 1,000 words appearing in her songs.
At #2 is legendary singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, with 199. Other veteran artists ranked in the top 20 include late Doors frontman Jim Morrison at #4, with 177; Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers at #12, with 151; The Eagles‘ Don Henley at #17, with 149; Freddie Mercury at #18, with 148; and Gregg Allman at #20, with 144.
Perhaps surprisingly, Bob Dylan, the singer/songwriter considered by many to be one of the music world’s greatest wordsmiths, was at #44 on the list with 130 unique words per 1,000 — tied with David Bowie.
However, Dylan does top a separate list ranking the artists who have used the most unique words over the course of their entire career. According to the study, he has 12,285 different words in his songs. Prince is second on the tally, with 11,430; Elton John is third, with 9,467; Lou Reed‘s fourth, with 8,979; and Bruce Springsteen is fifth, with 8,862.
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