In a weird twist of sync, the date chosen for the release of “Get Outta My Head” is the 24th anniversary of the passing of my old high school friend and first songwriting partner, Josh Clayton-Felt. I only recognized this alignment a couple of weeks ago. Josh and I had a band together called The Boon in 1987. In 1988 I ended up in movies and he went on to form School Of Fish. He died in 2000 and I’ve never gotten over it. Josh would sound amazing on this song. When a synchronicity aches this much it’s almost a pleasure.


Get Outta My Head” was the last song I wrote for Recognize, De-escalate & De-code. I thought I was writing about an ex-girlfriend but as the song worked its way into my bones, I realized it was about something a lot deeper in my psychological make-up. I carry around a bunch of other people’s opinions, and words, and disappointing actions in my head (and in my heart). This doesn’t do anyone any good. If there is some good to come of it (such as songs like this) it is minimal to me, compared with the personal ramifications of this seemingly unending internal dialogue.

The rhythm section on most of the tracks on the record is comprised of two of my favorite musicians; a bass player I’ve known and been impressed with for decades; and a drummer who I haven’t known as long but with whom I worked particularly intimately during the lockdown on tracks like “Dylan & Moses”, “Magnet For Trouble”, & “Might As Well Make It (Wonderful)”. Their work on my record is something I want to shout about.

In rehearsal for the sessions to complete the album, the bass player came up with an arrangement idea that transformed this song from the plaintive shuffle I’d written to the driving pop track it is now. I was talking with the bass player about joining the mixing sessions, crediting them as a producer on the track, potentially a co-writer, and generally looking forward to some kind of sustainable collaboration with them…but then something happened.

Ken Stringfellow of The Posies and I began an online conversation which resulted in his asking if I’d like to record with him. His rates were reasonable.

I’ve appreciated Ken’s music for decades. His former bandmate Jon Auer was a guest on several Radio8Ball shows. We even did a Posies tribute Radio8Ball Show in Olympia with Andy Shmushkin as the host and an all-star Oly band featuring Jon Merithew & Olivia Love, and Scott Taylor & Skyler Blake. It was in putting together this Posies tribute band that my appreciation for Ken’s songwriting really deepened. I’ve wanted to work with Ken since ever since so this was an exciting turn of events for me.

When I told the rhythm section about Ken’s interest, both players abruptly quit the project.

As you may have heard, Ken has been the target of allegations of sexual misconduct in the media. There has been no process to determine what happened and the facts, as reported, are not very clear to me. I’ve spoken extensively about this with Ken and found him to be rigorously self-critical, determined to prove his innocence, and generally philosophical about the entire situation. He does not seem like a danger to others. In the absence of more facts and a process to determine the truth, I think Ken is as worthy of friendship and support as anyone.

I tried to explain this to my rhythm section but they were each unmoved. My calls with them were separate, yet their responses were in perfect sync. Despite how bad the whole thing felt for me personally, I couldn’t help but be impressed by this unrehearsed solidarity.

My friends asked to have their names removed from the credits. They are now listed simply as “Rhythm Section Unknown”.

My grandfather, an MIT engineer developing laser technology in the 1950’s, was called before The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). This experience sent a shock of paranoia through my family that lives in and motivates me today. Even though I was years from being born when all this happened, these events scared my mother in ways that made me who I am and created in me a powerful aversion to the tactics of blacklisters. I don’t blame my friends for quitting the project. They were frightened, and both have far more to lose than I do. They are successful session musicians. Their work depends on their reputations. My reputation is what is. I live with it. When someone is accused in the media, given no process with which to defend themselves, and shunned by those who should know better, my impulse is to stand with that person, especially when they are an artist who has earned my respect. Especially if they meet me with respect. This may be a character flaw on my part, but I come by it honestly.

I chose to work with Ken Stringfellow. He made my record sound better than it would have without him. I feel like I got him on the cheap even though he insists his rates were the same before people were quitting records to avoid having their names next to his. Whether or not this is true, in terms of the daily rate, it is almost certainly the case that if Ken hadn’t fallen on hard times we probably wouldn’t be working together. He would be too busy for me, and we wouldn’t have as much to talk about as we do now. For this reason, I am grateful for his hard times and I kind of think he is too.

“Get Outta My Head” was the first song we worked on and if I had any creative doubts about working with Ken, he dispelled them immediately. The way he dove into the tracking reminded me of Jon Brion, onstage at the old Largo on Fairfax in the late 1990’s, building a song all by himself with a looping pedal and a stage full of instruments he could play with a virtuoso’s ease. Like Brion, Ken would play a part that made no sense to me, then another, then another, and soon the original part made all the sense in the world. He’s one of those musicians who can hear it all, and execute it, while the rest of us are fumbling around trying to figure out what works.

While Ken’s musical talents are what I treasure most about our collaboration, the thing that most impressed me about him is, after expressing some initial curiosity when I first told him the story of the Rhythm Section Unknown, he has never pressed me for the identity of the musicians who quit the project. Based upon the context of the sessions, Ken must be aware he probably knows at least one of these people and, if it were me, I would want to know who they are. Maybe he does, but if he does, he has never let on. To me, that’s character. If he’s guilty of what he is accused of, it would surprise me. I hope he gets the process he desires to face his accusers and be heard.

In the meantime, the allegations hang in the air. In the absence of more facts or a process to determine the truth, and regardless of my personal feelings on the matter, I am stuck with this Schrodinger’s cat conundrum. An allegation creates a possibility. If it is a false accusation, we should be able to interrogate it. If it is a true allegation the person leveling it should be given the opportunity to back it up with evidence. If the entirety of the case is confined to one-sided media accounts and gossip, and accusing those who question the narrative of guilt by association, it seems reasonable to view this tactic askance. And, when a friend is on one side of an allegation like this, people of conscience and integrity must be steadfast in marking the difference between our loyalty to our friend and our commitment to the truth. This principle should be observed whether our friend is the accuser or the accused.  We who find ourselves in this cognitively dissonant bind would do well to keep our minds open and our nervous systems in check. My record is called Recognize, De-escalate and De-code for just this reason.

We can’t control the things people say or think about us, nor can we really know what they think or what they mean by what they say. This being the case, it’s a confounding psychological paradox how we spend such massive amounts of time and energy focused on other people’s opinions about the person we think they think we are.

This song is intended to clear the air of all that noise. It really has been a useful mantra for me. It’s not saying “Get Outta My Life”. In fact, maybe getting some people out of your head is the best way to let them back into your life in a way that doesn’t hurt so much.

PRE-ORDER/PURCHASE: Recognize, De-escalate & De-code