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My Life with Dogs: JD SOUTHER
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JD Souther with Doc and Jake
JD Souther with Doc and Jake

JD Souther is a card-carrying member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, inducted in 2013. Instrumental in shaping the sound that became known as country-rock in the 1970s, he has also contributed to the American songbook by penning such classics as “Best of My Love” and “Heartache Tonight” (both for the Eagles) and “Faithless Love” recorded by Linda Ronstadt.

Never one to rest on his laurels, the singer-songwriter continues to compose memorable songs from his Nashville home. As a performer, he recently toured in support of a new album, Tenderness (Sony), and can be seen in the recurring role of producer Watty White on television’s Nashville.

Despite his busy schedule, there’s nothing Souther would rather do than hang out with his dogs. The Bark caught up recently with John David and talked … you guessed it … dogs.

What is it that you like about dogs?

I like everything about dogs. I love their society, their immediacy, their ability to make anything an adventure. Dogs don’t miss an opportunity to have fun, to find out, to live. I also love the way they feel and smell. If I have to go to a party at the house of someone I don’t know, I look for the dog, or dogs. That’s where you’ll find me: hanging out with the dogs. No dogs, and I usually leave early.

Tell us about your dogs.

I have two loonies we affectionately call the Bruise Brothers, named thus for their incredible rough-and-tumble play, though they are, in fact, 50-pound lap dogs and would abandon their
fields and pond for a human lap any time. They are brothers—Hound and Pit mix possibly—and all boy, noisy, joyous and curious about everything.

When we brought them home from the two angels who had found them by the roadside in terrible shape and nursed them back to health, I had a beautiful Irish wife and a six-year-old girl. We built this farmhouse so that the girls would want to be here and not someplace else. It worked very well, but that meant that as the Bruise Bros grew, they were gently coerced to suffer every whim of an imaginative young female community, including but not limited to: shoes, hats, tee shirts, ties, capes, dresses, jewelry, sunglasses and sometimes various combinations of halters and leads that were only necessary for the little girls’ rich imaginations of them as horses.

For all this girlish invasion of their masculine nature, the brothers were as delighted as could be for the attention, and ne’er a growl was ever heard.

It was announced that the Eagles are being honored by the Kennedy Center next year — as a major contributor to their songbook … congratulations. Were there any dogs hanging out with you folks in those early days of Southern California music making?  

The honor is well deserved, congratulations to the guys. They certainly have added considerable wealth to the repertoire. The fact is, we were all almost on the move all the time in those early days. The only dogs in our little gang of musicians I can recall with any clarity are two. One was a small white dog that Glenn (Frey) and Janie, his first wife, had named Teeny Turner. She sounded bigger and who could blame her.

Also, Linda (Ronstandt) had two magnificent Huskies or something like them, when she lived in Brentwood. I was fond of one named Molly who voiced her objections to Linda leaving town by eating the couches, a form of protest with which I was to become later familiar on my dogs Murphy and Babe’s first day alone in the house, where they reduced a couch, daybed and several expensive cushions to a carpet of feathers and fluff. I opened the door to a first floor of shredded bedding and found two black dogs resting comfortably, one with feathers still clinging to his snout looking as innocent as possible. Smiling.

Have you ever written dog-centered songs, or lyrics?

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Cameron Woo is The Bark's co-founder and publisher. thebark.com

Photo of Souther and dogs by Aimee Stubbs

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