Musician JD Souther performs intimate, solo concert at Vilar Center on Jan. 9
If you go …
What: An Evening with JD Souther.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.
When: Tuesday, Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.
More information: Call 970-845-8497 or visit www.vilarpac.org.
We tend to think of songwriting as an art, not a trade. We want to believe that there’s a little magic that goes into making a melody. We want there to be some mystery behind creating a tune that is instantly recognizable by hearing just the first few notes.
But songwriting is also a craft, which is something that JD Souther still works hard at, even with a decades-long music career and several hit songs under his belt.
Souther will perform at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. The concert is billed as “An Evening with JD Souther,” as the musician and songwriter will play an intimate, solo show featuring his best-known hits and new tunes.
‘What I excel at is writing songs’
As a natural storyteller with a strong interest in books, writing, poetry and other art forms, Souther said songwriting just happens to be what he does best.
“The reason I keep writing songs is because it seems to be the thing I’m good at,” Souther said. “I was a fairly good carpenter and a pretty good trumpet player. I was a fairly good drummer and a passable guitar player and pianist (when I was younger). What I excel at is writing songs.”
Souther has had a varied and atypical career as both a singer and songwriter. He was a big part of the 1970s L.A. rock scene. In the early days, he played at the Troubadour with Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne.
He also played with the Eagles, but ultimately decided not to be in the band. The Eagles would go on to have many top hits co-written by Souther, including “Best of My Love,” “Heartache Tonight” and “New Kid in Town.” He also wrote “Faithless Love,” the 1974 hit by Linda Ronstadt, a longtime collaborator and friend of Souther.
Souther’s music has always been a mix of genres and influences, including rock, country and pop. He grew up playing jazz and has put out multiple jazz albums. His most recent album, “Tenderness,” released in 2015, combined pop, jazz and played homage to the Great American Songbook. Souther says his music has never followed a standard song structure.
“If you listen closely to the music, the songs and the records, there’s a much more complex situation going on a lot of times,” he said.
‘Whatever it takes’
Souther said this recent solo tour gives him the opportunity to play more songs and tell more stories to the audience.
“I don’t want to bore the band to death by telling the same stories every night,” he said. “People keep telling me they like this (format) best, so I think I’ll stick to it for a year or so.”
Listening to Souther tell stories — whether through his own songs, the tunes he pens for others or on stage during a concert — is what keeps attracting new fans even after many decades as a musician and songwriter. Souther is currently working on a book and also writes poetry, which allows him to stretch his creative muscle in a different form.
“I’m a big fan of revision,” Souther said of his writing. “Having said that, I have a couple of successful songs that took almost the same time to sing than it took to write it. I’ve also had a couple of very successful songs that took me a year to write — whatever it takes.”
As long as fans are still listening, Souther has new tunes to play and more tales to tell.