Emerging from the same southern California folk-country-rock scene that delivered Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, and Jackson Browne, JD Souther has claimed more of a stake in the business as a successful songwriter than as a performer. He has written and co-written for countless artists, including the aforementioned three artists, and additionally, James Taylor.
After moving to Los Angeles from Texas in his early 20s to pursue a career as a session musician and songwriter, Souther met up and rented an apartment with another aspiring singer/songwriter, Glenn Frey. The two formed a duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle. They got a deal on the small Amos label, but failed to release any chart-breaking hits. The experience did, however, spawn a songwriting relationship that would last for years. In the end, Souther and Frey penned several hits for Frey's next band, the Eagles—among them "Best of My Love," "Heartache Tonight," and "New Kid in Town."
Souther also produced, co-wrote, and performed with his friend Linda Ronstadt on her 1973 chart-topping Don't Cry Now album. This experience led to an offer from David Geffen to be a part of a new super group he was forming with Poco's Richie Furray and the Byrds/Burrito Brothers mainstay Chris Hillman. Together as the Souther-Hillman-Furray band, they made two albums and went on two tours before breaking up in 1975.Souther finally broke through with the hit title track of his 1979 album, You're Only Lonely.