A trooper from California’s famed Troubadour nightclub known more as a songwriter than a singer is marching into the Valley with his 3-piece band Wednesday.
J.D. Souther, often referred to as “The Sixth Eagle” among guys like Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit and Don Felder, is performing at the Musical Instrument Museum. If fans are lucky, maybe Souther, who also was known for seeking solace in solitude, will stay past closing time.
Souther, who collaborated on writing Eagles songs such as “Best of My Love,” “New Kid in Town” and “Heartache Tonight,” and briefly toured with the band during the early part of the Hotel California Tour in 1975, will be performing his hits and “some surprises” during a 90-minute show in an intimate setting.
It will be Souther’s first appearance in Phoenix since playing at the Rhythm Room two years ago.
“We’re looking forward to coming back to Phoenix and playing at the museum” said Souther, 66, who has performed music for part of five decades. “I’ve heard a lot about the place. It’ll be a good show, the band is hot and ready to rock ’n’ roll. I’ll play some songs from the first batch I wrote, some hits, some songs that people probably wouldn’t expect me to play and some surprises. It’ll be a good time.”
Souther also has written songs for the Dixie Chicks, Brooks and Dunn and Glenn Campbell, and likely will play “You’re Only Lonely,” “Last in Love,” “Simple Man, Simple Dream” and “I’ll be Here at Closing Time.”
More recently, Souther revived a previously unreleased relic from 1972 for the hit track “How Long” on the Eagles 2007 release “Long Road Out of Eden.” And, Souther completed three new albums of his own since then: “If the World Were You” in 2008, “Rain (Live from the Belcort Theatre)” in 2009 and “Natural History” in 2011.
He also plans to release a new album in early 2013.
Following what Souther said is an old superstition, he told the Tribune during a telephone interview from his home in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday that he doesn’t release the working name of the album or the songs until they’re actually released.
“I throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks,” Souther said. “My writing methodology, probably like a lot of others, is trying to reduce the big pile of notes, legal notebooks, scores on the piano and half-finished poems. It’s a reductive process, whatever I write at the moment. It’s free associating things and seeing where it lands. It’s part of the creative process that falls into place eventually.”
Although Souther, who also is known as a pioneer in west coast country-rock music, laughed when asked if the new work was going to be jazz-related music similar to what he did early in his career, he said he doesn’t plan to change the way he does things.
“I don’t have any intention on writing songs from 1979 again,” Souther said. “We might sound like it, and some of the people in the audience might think so, but we will play some of our hits and new music. You don’t want to outguess the audience or outguess yourself.”
A native of Detroit, Souther grew up in Amarillo, Texas, and was influenced by the sounds of Roy Orbison, George Jones and Miles Davis.
A former boyfriend of Linda Rondstadt, Souther met fellow Detroiter and Eagles founder Glenn Frey in 1969 and formed the folk duo Longbranch Pennywhistle. Soon after, they became the back-up band for Ronstadt and later formed the Eagles by adding more poverty stricken musicians to their mix after playing open mic nights during the Troubadour’s Golden Age in the early 1970s.
Souther lived in Hollywood Hills for 30 years. He briefly lived in Ireland before moving to a small farm outside of Nashville about nine years ago.
“I’m a Hollywood Hills guy,” Souther admits. “I miss the ocean.”
But, in between what Souther said on Tuesday was fighting “Tennessee allergies,” he said he really likes living in Nashville.
“If you live in Nashville, you have an enormous pool of musicians,” Souther said. “It’s a town full of great players and a lot of them don’t get the credit they deserve for being so versatile. It’s a great place to be.”
Although Souther is one of many musicians who has rolled with the changes in the music industry over the last couple of decades, he said that in some aspects it has pretty much stayed the same. Though more “doors of access” have opened because of the Internet, he said.
“We think about it all the time,” Souther said of how the music will be received and where it will be played. “It’s hard to figure out what the public will listen to. Democratization has changed the access points from a few guys who owned big record labels to the Internet. Before, you had to impress a few gatekeepers. Now, there’s much more diffuse and a lot more access points. The doors don’t have any locks on them.”
In 1972, the year Souther released his first album, “John David Souther,” he said there were 1,500 albums released. Last year, there were 115,000 albums released, according to Souther.
“You can make an album at home and put it on the Internet for the world to see,” Souther added. “We’ve somewhat come back to what it was like in the 1930s and 40s. You play before an audience and play well. There’s not as many record stores as there used to be. I don’t think things have changed for the better or worse, it’s just different, and different is good.”
If you go:
What: J.D. Souther in concert
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix
Information: (480) 478-6000 or www.themim.org.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org