Originally Posted by mehhhh
Hit me with some ideas. Nothing too rock and roll, but it doesn't have to be straight acoustic acts, either. I'm looking for inspiration to write my own music, currently listening to a lot of the classics- Beatles, Cash, Stones, Cohen, Dylan. Would like to branch out.
There have been many good recommendations thus far, so I won't repeat them. Astonishing, though, that nobody named Joni Mitchell; perhaps they assumed you were already familiar with her work. Most of the songwriters people have listed are natural follow-ups to Cash, Cohen, and/or Dylan. An obvious step from the Beatles and the Stones would be the Kinks (Ray Davies) and the Who (Pete Townshend), although the latter might be "too rock and roll" for you. You might also try getting into more country; with Cash as a jumping off point, check out Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, and then see where that gets you. The list of great country songwriters is substantial.
On a different tack, I recommend Peter Gabriel and Laurie Anderson. Different still, Stephen Sondheim.