3 Songs You Didn’t Know Kiefer Sutherland Wrote

Destined to act, born to actors Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland was also musically inclined from a young age, first learning violin before graduating to guitar by the age of 10. “I was probably the only kid in first grade with an Aerosmith T-shirt,” joked Sutherland in an interview with American Songwriter in 2022.

“I didn’t have a Les Paul or a Strat, which kinda dashed my heavy metal dreams, but I did have this acoustic guitar,” added Sutherland. “That was the beginning of me finding my way into the storytelling kind of songwriting—everything from Jim Croce to James Taylor to Harry Chapin, songwriters like that. [The] acoustic guitar was something that you could kinda form and structure a song on, much easier than an electric … so the acoustic helped me immensely.”

By the time he was 15, or 16, Kiefer Sutherland began writing songs as an emotional outlet. The lyrics to one of his first songs delivered the brooding punk refrain of Mother, won’t you leave me alone? As Sutherland got older, his lyrics matured, but it still took him more than 30 years to share his music with the world.

Within a career spanning more than 40 years, Sutherland had already established his acting career in the 1980s, from one of his earliest roles in Stand By Me, the vampiric cult classic The Lost Boys, and Western Young Guns, and on through the ’90s in A Few Good Men and Flatliners, among many other roles. By 2001, Sutherland took on the role of Jack Bauer in the hit television drama 24, for nine seasons. The series earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor, Television Series Drama, and two Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series as co-executive producer. He also starred in the political drama Designated Survivor from 2016 through 2019, along with episodes of the TV series The Fugitive, The First Lady, and Rabbit Hole in 2023.

Videos by American Songwriter

Kiefer Sutherland riding a motorcycle in a scene from the film ‘The Lost Boys’, 1987. (Photo by Warner Brothers/Getty Images)

At 49, Sutherland, was finally ready to share his music for the first time with the release of his debut Down in a Hole in 2016, followed by Reckless & Me in 2019, and Bloor Street in 2022.

“I finally got to a point in my life where I didn’t care as much about what someone would say,” said Sutherland in 2016 on releasing his music. “There’s a terrible stigma of an actor doing music. Trust me, it makes my eyes want to roll back in my own head, but I like my songs, and I wanted to tell those stories. As an actor, my interest in doing films and theater is being able to tell those stories, and this was an extension of that, but on a much more personal level.”

Throughout his growing catalog of songs, Sutherland has crafted a collection of heart-strung songs, inspecting love, life, and connections. Here’s a look at just four songs Sutherland wrote since his 2016 debut.

[RELATED: Kiefer Sutherland: Finding Warmth in the Biting Cold — 2022 Interview]

1. “I’ll Do Anything” (2016)

Written by Kiefer Sutherland and Jude Cole

In 2002, Sutherland launched Ironworks Studio and Ironworks Records with friend singer, songwriter, and producer Jude Cole. The label was behind releases by Lifehouse, Ron Sexton, and more. “We had a huge flow of really great artists from all over the country coming through the studio,” said Sutherland, who stepped down from his role at the label in 2009. “I got to see how different artists wrote songs.” 

After writing around 25 songs, Sutherland was later prompted by Cole to release his music and released his 2016 debut Down in a Hole—perhaps a nod to the 1992 Alice in Chains song.

The country-bent album was produced by Cole, who also co-wrote the 11 tracks with the actor and musician. Sutherland considered the album a “journal” of his personal stories, including the heartfelt ballad “I’ll Do Anything.”

I’ve been searching for you all my life
Looked so hard that I went blind
There you were standing in front of me
Right in front of me for all this time

When my world would come undone
I’d call on you to provide
And all those nights I spent laughing
There you were right by my side

I love you just the way you are
No, I wouldn’t change a thing
And if you’ll take me as I am, girl
I’ll do anything, I’ll do anything

The album is the closest thing I have had to a journal in my life,” said Sutherland in 2016. “All of the songs except for ‘Shirley Jean’ are from personal experiences that I’ve gone through.”

Sutherland went on his first tour to support Down in a Hole and performed at the 2016 Academy of Country Music Awards. Down in a Hole went to No. 18 on the Billboard Americana/Folk Albums chart, and peaked at No. 35 on the Top Country Albums chart.

2. “Agave” (2019)

Written by Kiefer Sutherland, Jude Cole, and Sammy Hagar

Still working with Cole, Sutherland pieced together his second album Reckless & Me. Released in 2019, the album featured the singles “Open Road,” “This Is How It’s Done,” “Something You Love,” and “Faded Pair of Blue Jeans.” Blending earnest balladry and some country rock, Reckless & Me showed more dimensions of Sutherland’s musical scope.

The album also features a song co-written with Sammy Hagar. Initially an ode to tequila, “Agave” transitioned into another storyline once Sutherland and Cole started working on it. “We were playing at a bar that was owned by the Grateful Dead and the night before we had dinner with Sammy Hagar, which might have been a mistake,” said Sutherland in a 2019 interview. “I had written ‘Not Enough Whiskey’ [from ‘Down in a Hole’] and other songs about whiskey and he said, ‘You gotta write a song about tequila,’ because he’s got the tequila company.”

[RELATED: The First Song Sammy Hagar Ever Wrote and How it Inspired Soundgarden]

Sutherland added, “We [Sutherland and Cole] had an idea of what the chorus would be, and then in the first verse I spat out that it would be so much cooler if it was a guy but on the run and Agave was actually a girl and not just tequila or whatever,” said Sutherland. “She embodied the whole sense of what that was. But it was his [Hagar’s] idea to write that kind of a song, so thank you, Sammy Hagar.”

Town to town, place to place
I feel the lights upon my face
A hundred miles left to go
I pray to God it doesn’t snow

Reckless and me, oh, oh, oh
Whistle restless and free, oh, oh, no
And it’s two for the show
At tonight’s rodeo

I traveled light, we kept it lean
Day money is all we’ve seen
But it’s the road we chose to take
And all we need is just one break

3. “Nothing Left to Say” (2022)

Written by Kiefer Sutherland

“I was out to dinner one evening, and I couldn’t take my eyes off this couple,” said Sutherland on what prompted him to write “Noting Left to Say” from his third album Bloor Street. “They were both looking down at their own phones. Not once during the entire night did they look up and say a word to each other, and I just thought to myself ‘Man, that’s a tough way to be.”

When Sutherland got home he wrote “Nothing Left to Say,” about the distance and deterioration within relationships.

So it’s time for a change
And both our lives we’ll rearrange
Tears will fall through the pain
As our hearts become estranged
We’ve got nothing left to say

No, we’ve got nothing left to say
Somehow it just slipped away
I’ve loved you every single day
But we’ve got nothing left to say

Late at night, I’d hear you cry
And in my soul, I’d want to die
You and I both know we tried
But now it’s time to say goodbye
‘Cause we’ve got nothing left to say

[RELATED: Kiefer Sutherland Unveils New Music and Recalls Growing Up On “Bloor Street”]

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Nili Brosh

Nili Brosh’s Six-String Superpowers on Display in ‘X-Men ’97’ Theme, Dethklok, and Her Own Band

Upcoming Archival Neil Young & Crazy Horse Album Delves into the Band’s ‘Early Daze’

Upcoming Archival Neil Young & Crazy Horse Album Delves into the Band’s ‘Early Daze’