I had what I hope people will recognize as a strange thought this morning, when my wife called out, "Alexa! Play Jimmy Buffett." My thought was: Will Alexa's response be noticeably different in any way because he died? I.e., does Alexa know Jimmy Buffett is dead?
I did quickly realize: Wait a minute, Alexa is a machine, so "she" doesn't know or care that Jimmy Buffett is dead, and she'll still play his music exactly the same way she always has, and that music will sound exactly the same to my bio-mechanical ears.
But to my heart, it's different because he's dead.
Of course, I don't mean my heart as that mechanical pump that moves blood around this body to accomplish energy exchange by low combustion and waste elimination, etc. I don't mean my heart as that machine which my friend Wes Fisher has such a brilliant ability to repair over at Evanston Hospital....
I mean my heart as that place where I will recognize a different time, in my own life and the life of my family and my culture, when I could hear those words and that melody, The cannons don't thunder, there's nothing to plunder, I'm an over-forty victim of fate... coming from a physical spot, only 100 yards behind me on the pitcher's mound at Wrigley Field, one beautiful summer night. That magic won't happen anymore and I have to mourn its passing, even if Alexa doesn't notice.
They could easily make Alexa "notice," I'm sure. Just by adding, "Sadly, Jimmy passed away on September 1, 2023, but..." to the current, "Here's Jimmy Buffett from Apple Music." I'm not sure that would assist my own grieving, or anyone's grieving. Such falsification of life is curiously monstrous, we probably just shouldn't do it.
When I hear the lyrics and the tunes, and remember my father singing, loving those songs; when I think of my kids younger on vacation, saying they wanted a cheeseburger in paradise for lunch, I always cry. I always did, even before Jimmy died today. That's enough, forget about all the machines.
Who will come with me ... to Paris, looking for answers, to questions... that bothered him so...?