John David “JD” Souther and his family moved from his native Detroit when he was three. But the singer, songwriter and performer — best known for hits he penned for the Eagles (“Best of My Love,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Mew Kid in Town”) and Linda Ronstadt (“Prisoner in Disguise”) — has “an unusually deep childhood memory” and plenty of recall of, among other things, going to the Detroit Institute of Arts with his mother and grandmother.
He retains other hallmarks of Detroit culture, too.
“If you grew up with a Tigers fan or a Lions fan, like my father, you became accustomed to the cycle of hope and disappointment,” says Souther, 63, who recently released the jazz-flavored “If the World Was You,” his first album in 25 years. “And it makes you really tough, ’cause every now and then when it pays off it’s a real joy.
“We do have the Red Wings and Pistons, at least. It’s not like it’s a sportspoor town; it’s a very sports-rich town. But there have been dark years.”
Souther’s early years were also spent immersed in music, and it’s not hard to figure out how he decided to make it a career — which took off when he moved to Los Angeles in the late ’60s, hooked up with fellow Detroiter Glenn Frey of the Eagles and became part of the city’s burgeoning singer-songwriter movement.
“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t listening to music,” says Souther. My grandmother was an opera singer. My dad was a big band singer. There were always singers in the house. And I’ve been playing music since I was 10.
“So what I do is always ... a matter of critical mass. You hit a tipping point where a certain group of influences are more prevalent in what you’re doing at different points. You get to work and just see what comes out of all that.”
JD Souther and April Smith perform on Tuesday (Nov. 18) at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29. Call (248) 544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.
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