Once upon a time there was a famous national sweepstakes outfit that not only tempted you to dream about getting really rich really fast but also pitched magazine subscriptions at the same time. (No, not the outfit Ed McMahon works for; I'm talking about the other one.)

This dream-generating enterprise exists today as primarily an Internet presence (unless you're fortunate enough to find its "Prize Patrol" knocking at your door bearing a giant check with your name on it while tv cameras pile onto your lawn). But when I was young and the Web was but a glimmer in a few scientists' eyes, the "clearing house" was a snail-mail-based business whose pitches for riches showed up in your mailbox. Each envelope arrived with punchouts and stickers inviting you to decide RIGHT NOW what color car you would prefer (should you win), where you planned to take your lavish vacation (should your number come up), and whether you would prefer to receive your million dollars in a lump sum or in monthly installments. And although the cover letters were careful to assure you that signing up for one of the accompanying magazine subscription offers would not help you win anything, it was hard to believe that picking up the occasional Redbook or Photoplay for a few issues wouldn't somehow or other hold you in good stead once the money spigot got turned on.

I had been getting such mailings for years when I met a young singer-songwriter named Michael Lantrip in the mid-'70s. I had lyric-writing ambitions myself, so he and I collaborated on a song or two before I left Alabama for New York in 1977. The catchiest of the tunes we finished was a spoof called "Purchaser's Clearing House."

Although "Purchaser's Clearing House" was never recorded commercially, I gave the public a partial taste of it by building a 7-page comic strip around the lyric in 1986. And for nearly twenty years audiences at my traveling slideshow have been hearing Mike's demo of the song while I flashed through the comic strip's pictures. If you haven't been there for my slideshow, however, you've probably had no way to hear Mike's tune. Until now.

The Web makes sharing such off-beat items across the miles possible. Wotta world!

The tune is by...who??

If you check my old comic strip of "Purchaser's Clearing House" you'll see the music credited to a certain "Marty Lyles." That was a pen name Mike sometimes used at the time the strip was drawn but it's not one he goes by now. Hence the updated credit line at the end of my online version.

Ready to hear the song now?
Then go for it!

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