Wife To The Rescue of Alexa And Me

by Kevin Burton

   My songwriting is punctuated by bursts of creativity, drive and joy but it swims in a vast ocean of self-doubt.

   If confidence were gun powder, I couldn’t blow up an apple.  My confidence is like that sorry little piece of fat they call pork, in a huge can of beans, the beans being the doubt. 

   That’s how someone with vocal talent remains at the level of a karaoke hero, or even below that.    

   So I made for myself, a play list on my Alexa device.  It’s a musical pep talk really.  I believe it starts with “Sing” by the Carpenters. You know, the song that says “don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear just sing, sing a song.” 

   I need to hear that kind of thing. 

   Problem is, when I wanted to access it Saturday, I couldn’t find it.  That’s why I said I believe it starts with Sing. I can’t remember what I called this playlist!  It’s like I went strolling down memory lane, but got lost along the way. And Alexa is no help. 

   If I ask her how many play lists I have she says enthusiastically “you bet!” and launches into one of my lists. But she never lands on my pep talk list.   

  Then it came to me, I thought I had really outsmarted her this time.  I asked her to play “Sing” then when the song started, I asked, “is this on my playlist” and “which play list is this song on.”  

   Curses, foiled again. She went back into that “you bet” thing.

   This wasn’t the first time Alexa had let me down.   

   My “Beatles” playlist is actually songs by the post breakup formerly-fab four, such as “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” by John Lennon and “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney. I tried to call the list “post-Beatles” but Alexa wouldn’t hear of it. 

   If I create a list of actual Beatles songs, I should call it “Alexa’s intransigence.”

    My “Mexico” playlist was also born of Alexa’s shortcomings.  In order to get her to play my favorite 80s Mexican rock tunes, I had to mispronounce the Spanish in the same way she does.  I got tired of remembering bad Spanish, so once I finally got her to recognize a song, I put it on my playlist.

   Asked to comment on how she did or did not help me with playlists, Alexa said, “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

   That’s AI for “no comment.”

   I was ready to give up and create a whole new pep-talk list.   Then my original list would just exist somewhere outside the reach of my memory and Alexa’s helpfulness.  It would be a frozen, strictly theoretical treasure, like the baseball cards that found their way to the crawl space beneath the stairs in my father’s house in Yellow Springs, where they stayed for years.

   But, to the rescue, came my wife Jeannette.     My dealing with technology flow chart has “give up” as its third or fourth square. No so hers.  Jeannette has a need to figure things out. God knows where I would be if not for her and her determination.

   If you ask her, she’ll tell you she’s not techy, at maybe a C+ level. But she’s sitting next to me, an F-, in the family picture. So she looks like a tech savant.

   She figured out a way, using her phone, to see my play lists – not 12 of them, but 16 actually.

   The list I couldn’t remember is called “warmup songs.” I seem to have been of two minds when I created it. It has “Sing” on it but it also has “Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton, which is not an attitude song but something that’s very low and easy to sing.

   So the list wasn’t worth looking for really and I will need to make a new one anyway.

   My confidence needs a warmup more than my voice really, so I better get this thing figured out.

   One thing I did figure out: I wrote down the names of the 16 playlists in case I have another memory failure. Hope I don’t forget where the list is.       

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