Stories » J.D. Souther's journey through music / Fort Worth Star Telegram

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J.D. Souther's journey through music / Fort Worth Star Telegram

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J.D. Souther is never very far from his past. There are the obvious connections - his integral contributions to the Laurel Canyon folk-rock scene of the 1970s, a creative ally of Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles. But his own musical life is much more eclectic and surprising than years spent writing songs in Southern California.

As a child, Souther, who was born in Detroit and whose family lived for a time in Dallas before settling in Amarillo, grew up surrounded by music: His father was a big-band singer, performing under the stage name Johnny Warren, before becoming an agent for MCA. The younger Souther began his lifelong sonic odyssey by picking up the violin, followed by the clarinet, the saxophone and, ultimately, the drums. An aficionado of classical music and jazz, the man perhaps best known for collaborating with country-rock musicians didn't even touch a guitar until his early 20s.

Through it all, from the early days spent learning scales in his family's Amarillo home, to open-mike nights at the famous Los Angeles club the Troubadour, to his underrated 1972 debut album, John David Souther, the singer-songwriter has been working without a net. He is, was and has always been an artist chasing his muse from one side of the country to the other, rootless yet firmly planted in the grand tradition of artists making music primarily for an audience of one: himself. "There was no Plan B," Souther says from Nashville. "I've been a musician as long as I can remember. I never had any other mode of expression. I can't draw. I mean, I can't draw a circle with a protractor or a straight line with a ruler. I have no visual acuity as far as an artist. I just had a natural affinity for every kind of music."

His comfort within a variety of genres informs Souther's latest solo effort on Sony Masterworks, the Larry Klein-produced Tenderness.   READ THE FULL Fort Worth Star Telegram ARTICLE