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Old 12-05-2008, 08:00 PM   #71
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Default Re: JD Souther

Another interview with Souther. This one's from SignOnSanDiego.com.

Back in the saddle

J.D. Souther took 24 years to deliver a new album. Why? 'I was doing a lot of other stuff' Um, what? Read on ...

By Mikel Toombs 1:01 p.m. December 4, 2008

Although he was only a member of the band for a single afternoon in 1970, J.D. Souther helped define the Eagles with such songs as “Best of My Love” and “New Kid in Town.” His partnership with Linda Ronstadt, at times more than musical, produced the likes of “Faithless Love” and “Prisoner in Disguise.”

Souther, who'd been in a band (Longbranch Pennywhistle) with roommate and Eagle-to-be Glenn Frey, also carved out a career as a 1970s singer-songwriter, with a detour into the not-so-super-group the Souther Hillman Furay Band.

But after his 1984 album, “Home by Dawn,” Souther stayed mostly at, well, home, in the Hollywood Hills. He became visible only as a writing credit on records by George Strait, the Dixie Chicks and once and future Eagle Don Henley.

Souther may have been gone, but he wasn't forgotten. The Eagles reached back to 1972 and his debut solo album for “How Long,” which became a single off of last year's reunion album, “Long Road Out of Eden.”

And now Souther, who performs a long-sold-out show Wednesday at AcousticMusic San Diego, has released a new album. Sophisticated and heavily jazz-influenced, “If the World Was You” raises many questions, starting with, Why did it take 24 years to produce a new album?

“I have no idea,” Souther said by phone from a tour stop in snowy Detroit, where he was born John David Souther 63 years ago. “Probably the question I could answer is: Why did I do it now? And the answer is that the material is there – by that I mean the material that I wanted to sing.

“I was always writing. Henley and I wrote a bunch of stuff in '89 that worked out pretty well. And George Strait had a great record with 'Last in Love' on it in '94 or so. And the Dixie Chicks, everyone knows how many records they sold. They had a song of mine on that 'Wide Open Spaces' album.

“It's not that I stopped writing, I was doing a lot of other stuff. I built a great house in the Hollywood Hills that I loved, and I loved being home there. I had two dogs that I'd rescued, and it was a relief to not be on the road and to not be trying to create whatever I thought the late '80s music was – it wasn't exactly turning me on.

“What I was doing musically was, I just went home to learn to try to play better. I built this house with a great studio in it, I set up both my drum kits, got my horns out and tried to reacquaint myself with being a student of music, which is what I always was.”

Souther had started studying music, and playing drums and horns, as a 10-year-old growing up in Amarillo, Texas.

“My parents were swing kids, my dad was a big-band singer,” he said. “So, we always had lots of those WWII big-band records in the house. We had a lot of Dorsey Brothers, a lot of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw. And a lot of Sinatra. Both my parents loved Sinatra.”

Souther's love of Frank Sinatra is well-documented. When Ronstadt recorded her album of standards with Nelson Riddle, the story went that she'd been inspired after Souther had played her the aptly titled “(Sinatra Sings for) Only the Lonely,” also orchestrated by Riddle.

“To be perfectly fair,” he said, “(Ronstadt) had spent an equal, if not greater, amount of time playing me the Stanley Brothers, the Louvin Brothers and Jim and Jesse, the Carter Family. She really completed my country-music education.”

Souther's new album is remarkable in that his familiar songwriting voice comes through in a format that's radically different from the country-and folk-influenced recordings in the 1970s and early 1980s.

“I couldn't see the changes, from the inside anyway. From the outside, yes, it's a horn band instead of a guitar band. It's probably just because I got lonesome for horns,” Souther said.

“I had some of the greatest guitar bands in the world – certainly worked with one of the very greatest guitar bands in the world. And when I moved to the country in Tennessee, I got sort of lonesome for guys playing horns, because that's what I played when I was a kid.”

In fact, Souther, now a family man with a wife and two kids who has lived just outside Nashville since 2002, didn't even play guitar when he moved to Los Angeles in the late 1960s. Falling in with Frey, a fellow Detroit native (Souther's family moved when he was 3), and neighbor Jackson Browne, he soon remedied that situation, even briefly becoming a guitarist for the fledgling Eagles.

“I was, for one day. (Asylum Records founder) David Geffen talked us into working up a set,” Souther recalled. “We played a set one afternoon at the Troubadour. And I just remember looking down this line of acoustic guitar players and thinking, I am just the fifth wheel here. These guys do not need me in this band.”

Souther went on to write some of the Eagles' most indelible songs, and in the process seemed responsible for helping to create the band's musical image.

“Thelonius Monk was asked a similar question about how he felt about redefining jazz,” Souther said. “And he said, 'Man, I was just trying to make it sound good.' That's my answer. I had no notions about creating any kind of a niche or being the architect of anything. I was new at the acoustic guitar.”

Souther was more at home, so to speak, when crafting songs for Ronstadt.
“Yes, I didn't live with the Eagles,” he deadpanned. “I don't know that I wrote songs so much for her. We had kind of a collective consciousness together that resulted in great music.

“I always encouraged Linda to write – I don't know why she didn't. I always thought she certainly had the ability. But she had such an astonishing instrument, and she was so good at interpreting songs.”

Mikel Toombs is a Seattle writer.

DETAILS
J.D. SoutherWhen: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.Where: AcousticMusic San Diego, 4650 Mansfield St., Normal HeightsTickets: Sold outPhone: (619) 303-8176Online: AcousticMusicSanDiego.com

Three choice ones
J.D. Souther talks about three of his favorite songs, two he wrote and one from Frank Sinatra's “Only the Lonely.”

Linda Ronstadt, “Prisoner in Disguise”: Souther calls the duet “just about the zenith of our working together.” “We did that three or four times together in the studio live, just sitting across from each other with a guitar. And we didn't think we had it,” he recalled. “We came in the next day and (producer) Peter Asher says, 'You should hear this.' And we went, 'Really? You got it.'”

The Eagles, “New Kid in Town”: “Those guys are the absolute masters of making layered records, where you cut a rhythm track and you overdub and you overdub and you overdub,” Souther said. “We really worked on that song. I bet it took us eight months or a year to finish that song.”

Frank Sinatra, “Angel Eyes”: “The first time Sinatra retired, the last thing he sang was 'Angel Eyes.' If you recall, at the end of the coda where he sings Excuse me while I disappear, the spot(light) closes out on him and that was it. He walks off the stage and, as far as the public knew at that moment, his career was over. I thought that was high drama and perfect.”

– MIKEL TOOMBS
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:51 AM   #72
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From SFgate.com

JD Souther, the man who co-wrote some of the Eagles' biggest hits, returns with a solo album

Derk Richardson, special to SF Gate
Thursday, December 11, 2008


If it seems like the Eagles and Jackson Browne are the last men (and Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt the last women) standing from the golden age of Southern California country-rock, think again. Although he hadn't surfaced as a performer for two decades, and more than that as a recording artist, JD Souther is quietly reaffirming his position as a key player in a movement that changed the sound of American popular music — not just from the canyons of Los Angeles, but from today's country hit-making factories of Nashville, as well.

A Detroit-born, Amarillo, Texas-raised musician who moved to Los Angeles and started making music with roommate Glenn Frey (living in the same building as Jackson Browne), Souther co-wrote such early-'70s chart-topping Eagles hits as "Best of My Love," "New Kid in Town" and "Heartache Tonight" (as well as last year's Eagles smash "How Long"). Linda Ronstadt recorded Souther's "Faithless Love," "Prisoner in Disguise," "Silver Blue," "Simple Man, Simple Dream" and more. As a recording artist, Souther teamed with Chris Hillman of the Byrds and Richie Furay of Poco in Souther, Hillman, Furay; recorded four albums under his own name; and scored a major hit with the title track of his 1979 album, "You're Only Lonely."

But after recording a duet with James Taylor ("Her Town Too") and the 1984 album "Home By Dawn," Souther retreated from the limelight. While his songs (and co-compositions) have been recorded by India.Arie, Brooks & Dunn, Jimmy Buffet, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills & Nash, Raul Malo, the Dixie Chicks, Don Henley, Roy Orbison, Brian Wilson, Warren Zevon and others, only this October did Souther release his fifth solo album, "If the World Was You," on his own Slow Curve Records label.

Recorded live in a Nashville studio with five accomplished, jazz-steeped musicians, "If the World Was You" moves fluidly between classic soft country-rock and jazz-flavored songs that tap Cuban music and the blues. The CD cover explicitly mimics the vertical-bar pattern of jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's classic "Hub-Tones." "Jordan, the designer, and I probably looked at 200 old Blue Note and Prestige jazz covers," Souther explains, "because I have all those records — that's what I grew up listening to."
Like his contemporary Jesse Winchester, Souther has maintained most of the sweet youthful high range of his tenor voice — "I probably owe that to having quit smoking," he says. "I used to go on the road and sing two hours a night and smoke two packs of Luckys a day." His singing and guitar playing will be on naked display when he performs Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco, as Souther is performing solo on this first tour in support of the new album.

"I've forgotten how much fun it is," he says. "There's no set list. I can do anything in any order I want — grab a different guitar, sit down at the piano and go wherever it takes me. It's very liberating and also I think most people find it's very audience-friendly and intimate. I think it makes the audience feel really comfortable to know that they're likely to hear any song from my whole career."

The evening before our conversation, with Souther nursing a "full-on travel cold" with tea and honey in the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, KQED-TV in the Bay Area screened the 1988 special "Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night," for which Souther played guitar, sang and organized and arranged the backup vocal section of k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Warnes. "It must be pledge drive time again," Souther commented with a laugh. "It's the number one fundraiser for PBS stations."

DR: How are the songs from the new album being received on tour?
JDS: Perfectly. It couldn't be better — sometimes with greater attention than the older ones. It's really gratifying. I didn't really have any misgivings about it. I'm a lifer. I've been playing music since I was 10, so it's all just one long curve to me.

When did you decide to make a new record?
I suppose the simplest answer is, when the material was there. Not that I wasn't writing all that time in between, because I was, but I hadn't stumbled upon the right set of circumstances to feel like I had a lot of material that I wanted to sing. Meeting these musicians had a lot to do with it. As the band came together, four or five of the songs that weren't finished came together, because I knew exactly how we were going to play them.

Was there a pivotal song in the making of the new album?
Probably "Rain," which I started in Havana in 1998. I was in Cuba for a week. Actually, "The Border Guard" might have been a little earlier, but starting that song "Rain" was what really set this bunch in motion.

Do songs come to you all at once or do you have to work on them for a while?
I don't have any particular methodology, to tell you the truth. "Silver Blue" took exactly the amount of time to write that it takes to sing it, and "Prisoner in Disguise" took about a year and a half. So you just never know. I'm always writing something. There's always some structure sitting around someplace. There's always things on the computer, things scratched on score paper, legal tablets full of lyrics. It's never not buzzing around me all the time. I'm always doing it. But I think about three years ago I just got fascinated with the idea of being a bandleader again. I had a couple of really great guitar bands, but I've never had a band like the bands I grew up playing in. I was sax player and a drummer when I was a kid. I was a jazz drummer most of my life. I just got lonesome to hear those sounds, that timbre, to try to write in those keys that guitar players don't write in — E flat and B flat. I don't know why it presented itself. Poetry comes up when it can.

The album's live feel — its spaciousness and warmth — sounds like it was recorded very differently from the pop of the 1970s and '80s.
It's quite different, yeah. There's a lot of space in the middle. For one thing, if you take the incessant sawing of rhythm guitars out of the middle of record, it leaves quite a sonic gap. At first, for some people, it's a little discomfiting to have this sort of convex shape in there. But I frankly love it. Only three songs, I think, even have the snares of the snare drums turned on. So there's quite a big amount of sonic noise that's taken out of the middle, and I just love the sound of it. The template for it was the shape of the sonic curve of those '58,'59 to '61,'62 Miles Davis albums. I thought, well, no one's really done that with a vocalist's record, and I thought these are the songs to do it with.

Although I've read one reference to Tim Hardin in reviews of "If the World Was You," I'm reminded even more of Fred Neil.

Well, out of Fred Neil sort of comes Tim Hardin, and those guys, particularly Timmy, were really an important linkage between jazz and acoustic guitarist/songwriters. He played pretty simply. It's not like he was a man of a lot of chords or intricate voicings, but he had a very beautiful, relaxed, back-of-the-beat feel, and a beautiful way of sliding in and out of notes. Tim Hardin was big influence on me.

When did you become a singer as well as a songwriter?
When I started writing songs. I never even held a guitar until I was 22. I was a drummer and a sax player. I think that's just a serendipitous confluence of events and personnel. There was a lot of acoustic music going around. I had just moved to California, and I didn't know any jazz guys, and I wasn't getting any work as a drummer, and there were acoustic guitars all around, and somebody carelessly left one unattended in my apartment for a few weeks, and I found I could do something with it.
I grew up with singers. My father's mother sang opera. My dad was a big band singer. I can't remember a time there wasn't music in the house, so I grew up listening to great songwriters — George Gershwin, Cole Porter — and my grandma was playing opera for me before I was 3. I don't think I ever thought of growing up to be anything other than a musician. There really wasn't a plan B. Well, a kind of a distant plan B was to be a Formula One driver, but there really wasn't an entry point.

When you moved to L.A. and fell in with Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne, what was the shared musical aesthetic?
We were all fascinated with this sort of interface of traditional country music and whatever you want to call it — our generation's hippie rock 'n' roll. The year before we began to make albums, we spent most of the year at the Troubadour doing open mic nights and really low-paying opening gigs. We were broke, so we were in the bar all the time. That year of 1969, almost every singer-songwriter passed through there. I saw Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro and Tim Hardin and James Taylor and Kris Kristofferson, Elton John, Carole King, the [Flying] Burrito Brothers. Then at the end of the summer, CSNY played their first gig at the Greek Theatre, so it was a university of songwriting.

When did you write "How Long"?
I wrote "How Long" probably in 1972, when we were in Vietnam and I was very unhappy about that, and now country radio's playing it and we're in two wars again.

How is it that it came to the fore 35 years later?
Actually, Glenn's wife Cindy liked it. I think the story is that she and Deacon, Glenn's son, were watching YouTube and were looking at an old Eagles' concert from Holland and "How Long" was part of the set. And she said, "Glenn, what is this?" and he said, "That's an old song that JD and I wrote." And she said, "I think that's a classic Eagles hit." So that means I owe Cindy one. She was right.

What's your perspective on the music business, which has changed so much since what one might call the heyday of Southern California country-rock and singer-songwriter folk in the 1970s?
Well, I didn't do bad last year. I've never done badly as a writer, really. The Dixie Chicks album was a pretty big record too, the same year I was in Cuba — '98.

Maybe being a writer whose songs get recorded by others insulates you a bit from the fickleness of the industry.
I don't know about that. I think it's absolutely unpredictable. I think probably if you've got it down to some sort of predictable science, it's just at that point that it ceases to be art. I guess a couple of times I've known things were hits even when I writing them, but for the most part I'm just scuttling along in the dark trying to make things sound good.

When did you leave L.A. for Nashville?
I've never really left L.A. I moved to Nashville in 2003, and I lived there for a while, and I went to Ireland for a month and ended up living there for six months, and I met the woman who's my wife now and we moved to Nashville. But I tell you, there's a small part of me that feels a little tingle anytime any part of the West Coast is mentioned. Part of me is just at home anywhere between Mexico and, god, all the way up to Mendocino. I know California really well, and I love it. One of my best friends has a ranch between Petaluma and Point Reyes, and that's just some of my favorite countryside anywhere in the world. And there's that ocean, man. There's just nothing like that ocean. Don't get me wrong, Nashville's a nice town, it's a great place to be; we live out in the country and we have a beautiful place, but I do miss that ocean.

JD Souther performs Sat., Dec. 13, in the Noe Valley Music Series at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez St., S.F., 8:15 p.m., $25. April Smith opens. For more information, call (415) 454-5238 or click here. For JD Souther's itinerary, click here.
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Old 12-12-2008, 10:04 AM   #73
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Nice read.

Thank you Cindy Frey!! Glad she found that old clip!
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:12 PM   #74
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So true, TBF - and thank you Soda for putting that clip up on YouTube for Cindy to find.
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Old 12-14-2008, 07:42 PM   #75
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But Glenn did not co-write How Long. Why has J.D. stated that Glenn told Cindy 'that's an old song that J.D. and I co-wrote'?
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Old 01-15-2009, 03:18 AM   #76
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Finally got a photo of that signed LP:

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Old 01-15-2009, 08:14 AM   #77
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That is an amazing treasure!!
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Old 01-15-2009, 08:20 AM   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ive always been a dreamer View Post
So true, TBF - and thank you Soda for putting that clip up on YouTube for Cindy to find.
Wow Soda, maybe this belongs in the 6 degrees thread! And thanks for posting the pic of the autographed album - fantastic! I wonder how many of those are around?
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Old 01-15-2009, 11:52 AM   #79
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I was thinking the same thing. Good grief Nanc, you have what must be a very rare piece of memorabilia. The only other ones around are probably owned my Glenn and J.D.'s mothers. Well, on second thought, Irving probably has one locked away in a vault somewhere!
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Old 01-15-2009, 11:58 AM   #80
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Soda, that is just way too cool!

I didn't know you went to see JD. Did I miss your review somewhere?
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