“You got it, my little rug rat. It was back before the turn of the century, and the people were demanding that the record labels sell music over the Internet.”

“The Internet? What was that, Grandpa?”

“A network for transferring data. It’s what we used before IBM/Budweiser developed the brain implants for wireless reception.”


“As I was saying, the people wanted to buy music over the Internet, like the latest songs Radiohead or Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, but the labels were concerned that no one would get paid for the music.”

“You mean like those artists you’re always listening to, Grandpa, like Bryan Ferry and Chely Wright?”

“I think the artists were mentioned a couple of times, but the big concern was that the record companies wouldn’t make any money.”

“What happened, Grandpa?”

“The record labels insisted on developing a copy-protected format that would insure payment for songs, but the people couldn’t wait that long. Before you knew it, there were unauthorized copies of songs everywhere, including hits by Jason Mraz, Metallica and Aerosmith.”

“And that was a good thing, Grandpa?”

“That’s what we thought, my little yard monkey. Oh, I remember those times well. We’d spend all day using the computer to download songs by bands such as Bon Jovi and Dave Matthews Band.”

“What’s a computer, Grandpa?”

“That’s what we used for managing data before Microsoft/Ford invented the sphincter microchip implant. We’d spend hours sitting in front of the computer, drinking beer and downloading music by all the big artists, like David Bowie and Bob Dylan.”

“And that led to the beer drought of 2003?”

“Right. And because there was so much free music available, the record companies went out of business.”

“Is that when all the copyright litigation lawyers lost their jobs, Grandpa?”

“Uh, uh, the Great Depression of 2005. Record company executives were out on the streets. Artists weren’t being paid for their creations. I still remember those Hollywood bread lines like they were yesterday.”

“What’s bread, Grandpa?”

“That’s what we used to wrap our burgers in before McDonald’s/Park Davis came up with the Big Mac pill.”

“Then what happened?”

“Well, you had all these great artists, like Merle Haggard and Neil Young, that refused to create new songs because no one could guarantee that they’d be compensated. That’s when the people themselves started making music and distributing it for free.”

“Power to the people!”

“That’s right, my little carpet crawler. And that’s why today’s music is free and we can listen to such great artists like that guy from Des Moines who makes those recordings of himself beating his head against cement blocks.”

“That’s one of my favorites.”

“Mine, too. Oh, look, someone’s at the door. Could you see who it is?”

“Sure, Grandpa.”

“Well? Who is it?”

“Grandpa? He says he’s a recording artist. He wants to know if we can spare some food. He says he hasn’t eaten in days.”

“A recording artist? How many hits has he had?”

“Just one, Grandpa.”

“A one hit wonder, eh? Tell him to try the Salvation Amphitheatre downtown. This is a home, not a charity operation.”