you to mention the name Christopher Cross to a group of average
Joes-on-the-street, you’d be certain to elicit one or more of
the following responses: “Oh, yeah -- Sailing!", “He did that
Arthur movie song", ”Ride Like the Wind rocked!” Pressed any further,
the same people might respond along the lines of, “Where’d he
go?” or “He just put out that green album with the stork on it
But mention to those folks some other titles -- Never Be the Same,
Think of Laura, All Right, et al -- and you’d probably see the
recognition register. “I guess he did have more hits”, or perhaps,
“I remember now -- his second album was that pink one with the
duck on it.”
They were flamingos, but no matter. Our point being, Christopher
Cross never went away.
At this writing (late-2001), Christopher has released eight albums
(not counting hits packages), a body of work revealing a steady,
focused dedication to that oh-so-rare commodity of the latter-day
popster -- artistic growth.
Eight albums. Who knew?
Not everyone knew, but a lot of you did. Those who ignored the
trends and made the effort to follow Mr. Cross’ career -- after
radio, which adored him only minutes before, anointed him persona
non grata -- have reaped the rewards of set after set of intelligent,
melodic pop, written and performed by an actual grown-up. Or,
at least, by someone working toward becoming one.
It’s right about at this point that most official biographies,
seemingly by federal mandate, lurch backwards into reams of details
about the artist’s life -- “all that David Copperfield kind of
crap,” as Holden Caulfield so ably put it. We’ll pass. Nutshell:
Texas. Cover bands. Bars, frat parties. Demos rejected by everyone.
All hell breaks loose. Michael Omartian. Michael McDonald. Top
ten hits. Burt Bacharach. Awards galore.
The next question would be, “Well -- what did happen?”
Christopher’s entry into the public eye was complicated by unfortunate
terms like “meteoric rise,” “rocketed to fame,” and the dreaded
(and seldom accurate) “overnight success.” Longed-for terms before
the fact, intoxicating in their fruition, and finally next to
impossible to parlay into a long-term career, particularly in
a business on the verge of being revolutionized...
Four years, two albums, eight hit singles, several world tours,
five Grammy's, and one Oscar later, Christopher rested. Wouldn’t
you? But waiting there in the wings was that music merchandiser’s
dream, that music purist’s nightmare, that soon-to-be-ubiquitous
usurper of the imagination -- the music video. The world suddenly
wanted its MTV, and it didn’t take long to see, in this new era
of self-invented media darlings, that no amount of quick cuts,
exotic locations, or writhing chorines would disguise the fact
that, on the outside, Christopher Cross was just a regular guy.
While he rested, his “moment” passed.
But on the inside, Mr. Cross remained a unique artist, replete
with that confounding blend of sensitivity, determination, conviction
of his own artistry, and a fearful certainty that, at any given
moment, he would never again be able to write another song.
But write again he did. Though not prolific by any modern corporate
product-spewing standard, Christopher carried on creating vital
pop music, even as his star settled into a more realistic location
on the horizon, and a smaller but doggedly devoted following went
Yes -- but do a few big years and the infamous quarter-hour of
fame a viable body of work make? In most cases, no. If the artist
is Christopher Cross, you betcha.
We hereby submit more evidence from the Who Knew? file: That,
beyond the Cross-mania years, Christopher did co-write and sing
that moving song for the 1984 Summer Olympics, A Chance for Heaven;
that he did co-write and sing the delightful Loving Strangers
for the hit 1986 Tom Hanks movie, Nothing in Common; that he did
present us the following year with I Will (Take You Forever),
a lovely duet with international Les Miserables star Frances Ruffelle,
which tune has graced many a wedding (and is still a staple of
radio worldwide); that singles from most all of his albums did
chart in Japan and elsewhere in the mysterious East; and that
the rollicking In the Blink of an Eye did enjoy a smashing top-ten
success in Germany and surrounding territories in 1992.
In other words, there are Christopher Cross hits -- real ones
-- that many of us simply haven’t been fortunate enough to have
Continuing the evidence is a string of post-megahit albums from
the mid-1980s to the present that represents, in a most gratifying
manner, a hard-travelled road of integrity, a refusal to compromise:
Every Turn of the World, Christopher’s foray into a harder rocking
style which befuddled radio programmers (not a difficult feat)
but delighted fans; Back of My Mind, a collection of breezy pop
perfection with a foreshadowing of the deeper range to come; Rendezvous,
the insightful, landmark Cross set that found him tackling subjects
that would make many a lesser artist roll over and reach for the
remote; Window, a heartfelt, acoustic-based thumb-of-the-nose
at the empty electronics-drenched pop of the era; and Walking
In Avalon / Red Room, arguably the very pinnacle of sophisticated,
mature -- and, lest we forget, fun -- Christopher Cross music.
Clearly, Mr. Cross’ absence from the American pop machinery has
not kept him from moving forward. Every few years, the world has
been gifted with a new set of CC songs, each of the aforementioned
albums growing innately from the last while resolutely advancing
the state of his art. And he has continued to seek out his fans
worldwide by regularly hitting the concert road, never depriving
those fans of the early hits (played note-perfect) but always
insisting on featuring a broad range of his latest work, the songs
where his heart (and his art) truly lies. The audience response
is never less than rapturous.
That later work, much of it in collaboration with old cohort Rob
Meurer, stands up to the best of better-known contemporary pop;
some would say it stands a bit taller. It also stands as a testament
to an artist who strives to deepen. Christopher Cross has many
a laurel, none of which has ever been rested on.