There seems to be a strange correlation between oil production in the United States and the production of good music (as qualified by Rolling Stone magazine).
“First, a little theory. The decline in U.S. oil production* is explained by the Hubbert Peak Theory, which states that “the amount of oil under the ground in any region is finite, therefore the rate of discovery which initially increases quickly must reach a maximum and decline.” Makes sense, right? The same theory can apply to anything of a finite quantity that is discovered and quickly exploited with maximum effort.
Including, it would seem, rock & roll. I know, the RS 500 list is not without its faults, but it does allow for some attempt at quantifying a highly subjective and controversial topic and for plotting the number of “greatest songs” over time. Notice that after the birth of rock & roll in the 1950’s, the production of “great songs” peaked in the 60’s, remained strong in the 70’s, but drastically fell in the subsequent decades. It would seem that, like oil, the supply of great musical ideas is finite. By the end of the 70’s, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Motown greats, and other genre innovators quickly extracted the best their respective genres** had to offer, leaving little supply for future musicians.”