On the CTB discussion page I read with interest "Chicago's best lyrics" discussion, and noted that many of the comments seemed to reference mostly songs that were written during the '70's. Speaking for myself, I consider that era somewhat primitive in regard to my lyrics. Over the years, I have developed some skills, as I have never stopped composing both solo work and C repertoire. Risking immodesty, some of my best lyrics "Watching All the Colors, More Will Be Revealed, Naked in the Garden" were written much more recently. For sure, after 1991, as I began concentrating on solo projects, the level of writing steadily improved and challenged me to get to something deeper.
From C's albums, Pankow's "Searching " is the most moving lyric of his work. Cetera's "If You Leave" is right on the money. Scheff's "Love Lives On" is his best so far. My earlier work, "Song for Richard, Goodbye, Hot Streets" are pretty creative work.
For the most part, I'm the composer/lyricist, except for several collaborations with Phil Galdston, Gerard Mc Mahon, Hank Linderman, Bill Gable. They are each gifted composer/lyricists as well.
As I write this, I'm traveling and without the benefit of looking thru my catalog, and I can't remember many of the songs I've written, but I've learned along the way, that each lyric leads to the next one, and it all has a value, if only to me.
An idea, this year, is to compile and create a small book, perhaps illustrated, of RL lyrics. This project may have several results: I will discover that making a volume of the writing is of little value to anyone - or - I will discover a thread, or a few, that may run through my writing I was not conscious of. One thing I've always known ... I never, ever, sat down to write a hit.
Before the Rock/Rap era, which has yielded amazing work lyrically, there were great songs with the greatest lyrics.
I recommend the book "Reading Lyrics" by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball.