While JD Souther’s name might not often be bandied around, his songs certainly are. Souther was one of the architects of the California country sound and played an intricate role in the burgeoning careers of both The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt. His collaborations with Glenn Frey, and later Don Henley, resulted in some of The Eagles’ earliest breakthrough hits. It was a union that was formed when Souther and Frey bonded in Los Angeles, and eventually formed the folk duo Longbranch Pennywhistle.
From a small apartment in Echo Park, the pair fashioned a sound that would go on to redefine California music. While Longbranch Pennywhistle only released one album, Souther and Frey continued collaborating, and when Frey started directing his musical attention toward The Eagles, Souther also played a hand. With Henley at their side, the collective wrote some of The Eagles’ most iconic songs, including “Heartache Tonight,” “New Kid in Town,” and “Best of My Love.”
Souther eventually released four acclaimed solo albums and helped form a new collective called the Souther Hillman Furay Band (which included Chris Hillman from The Byrds and Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield fame), in addition to working with Ronstadt. But in 1985 Souther decided to step away from his solo career, left California, and, after a little traveling, eventually resettled in Nashville, Tennessee, where he set about refocusing his artistic vision.
“I wanted to be a better musician and songwriter,” Souther explained on his Web site. “I wanted to just stay home, practice, read, and write.”
During that time he furthered his collaborative armory, writing with some of music’s elite. His credits include Brooks & Dunn; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Dixie Chicks; Roy Orbison; George Strait; Brian Wilson; and Trisha Yearwood. But most importantly, Souther penned what would become his first new record in 25 years. The album, If the World Was You, is a reflective fusion of the multidiscipline wandering his compositions have long been known for, and marks the welcome return of a musical voice that has been put on the back-burner for far too long.
This Sunday, June 14, Souther will play SOhO (1221 State St.) with Jill Sobule at 8 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com for details.