Tuesday, June 4, 2024


"Please be sure," says Keith A. Getchell, "to tell the young people you know that they are perfect in every way, by the simple virtue of having a beating heart. We’re all fabulous Joes, Janes and Jameys." Getchell — a full-time social worker — knows all too well how important it is to get that message across, particularly to young people. It's taken the Oregon-based songwriter decades to find self-acceptance, and his journey is perfectly captured on the new "REDUX2" version of his song "Send Your River."

"Send Your River" doubles as both a smooth-R&B love letter to the city of Portland and an ode to the idea that, even for those who understand that love is love, self-love can often be the hardest bridge to cross. The song has been with Getchell for over 20 years.

"Starting In the year 2000," he explains, "I commuted by train to Portland State University (OR) from the little town of Boring. That had me crossing the Willamette River almost daily for 5 years. It was a beautiful view, rain or shine. And it needed a song. But what started out as a song about Portland became a song about me. It’s about a lonely gay kid in 1979 trying to escape his upbringing via a series of diversions. It's taken me almost my whole lifetime to come home to myself."

"Although I was born in Portland," he continues, "I grew up in a rural setting in nearby Boring. My family was conservative and Baptist. Their love was unwavering, but sexual orientation was just not a topic for conversation. So I didn’t see other examples of people like me in the world, and I didn’t understand who I was. Needless to say, adolescence was difficult. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1979, where I found comfort in alcohol, cigarettes and sex."

"At one point," he says, "a short love affair with another sailor at age 21 showed me how much of a regular Joe I actually am. That was a confidence-booster. I’m now in my 60’s. I’m happy. I love the life I have. I experience the love of family, friends, and one particularly special man. From where I started out, that's saying a lot."

"This is really the only song I've ever written, but I feel like there's a poetry in that because it's like each of our lives is one ongoing song. And in some ways, I feel like this is the one message I was put on earth to deliver: that it's okay to just be you — I know how difficult that is, but I'm living proof."

"Send Your River" was recorded in its various stages with the assistance of ItyDity, Ryan Stockbridge, and Sundown Sessions Studio. And, due to contractual reasons, Getchell is unable to disclose the identity of the woman responsible for the sublime lead vocal, but he stresses that he is eternally in her debt for transforming a story about his own isolation into a sentiment that strikes a universal chord.

Like so many of us, Getchell spent his whole life trying to get away from a place. 'In the end," he explains, "I ended up realizing that home is not so bad after all, and that I have some really good people back there. I like to imagine this song as something Judy Garland would've sung at the end of The Wizard of Oz after waking up in her bed like, 'Oh, this is where I should've been all along!' Ultimately, the song is about coming back home and finding out that there are more healthy sources of love in life."

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