After lengthy hiatus, J.D. Souther emerges from the shadows 

In the 1970s, Texas-bred troubadour J.D. Souther was a staple of the California country scene, first with Glenn Frey in a duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle, then as a part of the Souther Hillman Furay band, then finally as a solo artist with classic albums such as “You’re Only Lonely” in ’79. And then? The man moved to Nashville, Tenn., and virtually disappeared, finally re-emerging three years ago with the jazzy comeback “If The World Was You.” And he’s keeping the momentum going with the brand new “Natural History” set, wherein he reinterprets his own catalog classics.

How is it that your voice sounds better than ever now? Well, I’ll tell you something — not smoking, drinking cognac or snorting cocaine goes a long way to keeping your voice intact. And I quit doing all that stuff 20 years ago. Plus I guess I have good genetics — my father was still singing around the house in his 80s, and he sounded wonderful.

So you were away for more than two decades. Where were you? Let’s just say that I’ve watched all the men in my family never retire. They’re workaholics, and my dad worked till he was 86, my grandfather worked till he was practically dead. And I’m just too lazy and selfish to wait until I was 80 to go to all these places and have all this fun. Like do all this skiing, go camping with my dogs, take horses up into the mountains. And I also didn’t care much for music in the ’80s — it was the nadir of pop music in America, and I lost interest just long enough to really get interested in other things. And I also grow wheat — winter wheat in the winter and long blue-stem in the summer.

And moving to Tennessee in 2002 was a part of this change? Yeah. I’m definitely a city mouse that’s become a country mouse. I’m outside Nashville, and if good fences make good neighbors, then more acres make great ones. I know all three of my neighbors, and they’re fantastic. But we only see each other when we have to. Like a couple of months ago, when one of my dogs chased a rabbit under the porch of my guest house and got completely stuck. My neighbor brought over a crowbar, and I literally had to tear my porch apart to get him out.

And money was no problem? Hey — it helps if a lot of other people have had hits with your songs! I’ve had songs that were hits during my time away, with Don Henley, George Strait and lots of others. But I just wasn’t making records or touring myself.


J.D. Souther

When: Tuesday, July 19, 8 p.m.
Where: Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco
Tickets: $28
Contact: (415) 655-5600,

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Tom Lanham

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