J.D. Souther: A ‘Natural History’ Of Songwriting–LISTEN–
As part of the thriving 1970s country-rock scene in Southern California, J.D. Souther collaborated on many of The Eagles’ hits, including “New Kid in Town.” Souther has jazz in his background — his father was a big-band crooner — and his new album, titled Natural History, does have a stripped-down jazz feel. Souther wrote all of these songs, many of which became classics for other artists. Now he’s gone back and reclaimed them.
“It all turned out to be this nice, moody, kind of … if it was a movie, you’d call it ‘film noir,’ probably,” Souther says in an interview with All Things Considered host Melissa Block. “It’s all sort of smoky and rainy.”
For his new album, Souther got some advice from Linda Ronstadt, for whom he used to write songs.
“Very pointedly, she said, ‘Don’t try to rewrite the songs.’ I mean, she encouraged me to do the record because I defer to her advice quite often,” Souther says. “She really has just practically infallible taste in songs. She’s got what jazz players call ‘big ears.’ So I just kind of sat back and approached it as though the songs had been chosen for me by someone else. It’s a real crooner album. I know my dad’s grinnin’ about it somewhere. It’s all so pretty and kinda seductive and sweet.”