Shortly after inventing his Edison Recording Machine, Tom sat listening to a wax cylinder of music.
All of a sudden, the years opened before him. He heard generations of recorded music: symphonic, impressionist, minstrel singers and crooners, blues both country and urban, worksongs, jazz, rock and roll, country pop, jam-bands and hiphop.
He heard and saw a musical future enabled by his own inspiration and work.
Then he saw a singing contest, judged by a strange trio: a clownish bear, a trained seal, and a dyspeptic clergyman. He saw democracy harnessed to this contest; its voter participation outstripping any actual election.
A title appeared in his mind's eye: American Idol. And he wept.