Actor and Hall Of Fame hit songwriter JD Souther takes centre stage with expanded reissues of three of his influential solo albums – John David Souther, Black Rose and Home By Dawn – courtesy of Omnivore Recordings…
John David Souther was once a room-mate of future Eagle Glenn Frey with whom he formed a country rock/folk band called Longbranch/Pennywhistle in the late Sixties. Fair to say the chaps lived in an apartment block which was brimming with musical talent, and it was downstairs neighbour Jackson Browne who hustled Souther an audition with David Geffen, Browne’s boss at Asylum Records. Geffen liked what he heard and told Souther to “go make a record”, which he did while Frey began his flight to superstardom with the Eagles (Note: Souther would go on to co-write number one Eagles’ hits like Best of My Love, New Kid in Town, and Heartache Tonight with Frey and Don Henley).
Souther’s eponymous first album hit the streets in 1972 and was widely ignored by the general public, peaking at 206 on the US charts. Despite the record’s lack of commercial impact, the quality of the ten songs was undeniable and many would be covered in future by artists like Bonnie Raitt (Run Like A Thief) and his old mates the Eagles who released How Long as the lead single from their 2007 multi-platinum hit comeback album, Long Road Out Of Eden.
How Long (from “John David Souther”) was re-recorded for the 2011 album “Natural History”
For this expanded edition of John David Souther, seven previously unissued bonus tracks have been added, including an alternate version of Kite Woman.
Following his solo debut, Souther’s songwriting reputation grew via a Geffen-created collaboration with Chris Hillman (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers) and Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield, Poco) in The Souther/Hillman/Furay Band. The hastily assembled band made two LPs – The SHF Band and Trouble in Paradise – and there was a five-year gap before Souther’s next solo album, Black Rose, appeared. Produced by Peter Asher, it featured a who’s who of musicians including Lowell George (Little Feat), Joe Walsh, Waddy Wachtel, Jim Keltner, Andrew Gold, Russ Kunkel, Donald Byrd, and Stanley Clarke — with David Crosby, Art Garfunkel, Don Henley and Glenn Frey providing guest vocals.
“Black Rose was an ambitious undertaking, and it took a long time,” Souther states in the new liner notes. “I wanted to use more of my musical influences, and I had to dig a bit deeper. But when we were finished, I was almost as pleased with it as if it had sold a million copies. Almost.”
Indeed, sadly, like Souther’s debut, Black Rose hardly made a dent in the US charts (highest position: 85), but its songs would gain the audience they deserved via other artists/friends. For instance, Linda Ronstadt’s cover of the charming Simple Man, Simple Dream helped her 1977 album (with the adapted title Simple Dreams) to five weeks at number one in the Billboard 200 album chart.
Ronstadt had previously recorded Faithless Love on her breakthrough Heart Like A Wheel album, and she has gone on to record ten Souther tracks in total. Their relationship began with his production on her 1973 album Don’t Cry Now, which included I Can Almost See It, presented as Souther’s demo version among seven bonus tracks on this expanded edition CD.
His 1979 album You’re Only Lonely for Columbia Records which threatened but just failed to break the top 40 was Souther’s most commercially successful record, but it is his fourth solo album, Home By Dawn (1984), Souther’s only long-player of the Eighties, which gets reissued here. Home By Dawn didn’t break the US top 200 has but has since earned appreciation as a groundbreaking record for country music. An example of its lasting influence on subsequent generations of artists was the Dixie Chicks cover of I’ll Take Care Of You on their 12-million-selling Wide Open Spaces in 1998.
For its Omnivore reissue, the Home By Dawn’s original nine songs are joined by four bonus tracks including Souther’s duet with Linda Ronstadt, Hearts Against The Wind.
All three reissues feature expanded artwork, and new liner notes by Scott Schinder, based on recent interviews with Souther.
By the way, if Souther’s acting career has passed you by (we must confess that it had here at SDE…) his CV includes roles in TV drama Thirtysomething, (1989-90), as Jesse James in 1999 TV movie Purgatory and, most aptly, a recurring role as country songwriter and producer Watty White in ongoing drama series Nashville.
John David Souther is released on 15 January with Black Rose and Home By Dawn to follow on 12 February.
John David Souther
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Home By Dawn
John David Souther (expanded CD)
- The Fast One
- Run Like A Thief
- Jesus In 3/4 Time
- Kite Woman
- Some People Call It Music
- White Wing
- It’s The Same
- How Long
- Out To Sea
- Kite Woman (Alternate Version)
- Jesus In 3/4 Time (Demo)
- The Fast One (Demo)
- Run Like A Thief (Demo)
- How Long (Demo)
- One In The Middle (Demo)
- Silver Blue (Demo)
Black Rose (expanded CD)
- Banging My Head Against The Moon
- If You Have Crying Eyes
- Your Turn Now
- Faithless Love
- Baby Come Home
- Simple Man, Simple Dream
- Silver Blue
- Midnight Prowl
- Doors Swing Open
- Black Rose
- Faithless Love (Live)
- Songs Of Love (Band Demo)
- I Can Almost See It (Demo)
- Cheek To Cheek – Lowell George
- Border Town (Solo Demo)
- Texas Nights And Mexican Moons (Instrumental piano demo)
- Songs Of Love (Solo Demo)
Home By Dawn (expanded CD)
- Home By Dawn
- Go Ahead And Rain
- Say You Will
- I’ll Take Care Of You
- All For You 6. Night
- Don’t Know What I’m Gonna Do
- Bad News
- All I Want
- Hearts Against The Wind – Linda Ronstadt/JD Souther
- I’ll Take Care Of You (Demo)
- Little Girl Blue
- Girls All Over The World