When you mention the name Christopher Cross, you are certain to elicit memories of exactly when they first heard “Sailing”, or the great concert where they heard “Ride Like the Wind” and decided to become a guitar player. “Arthur’s Theme” (which was written for the movie) and “Think of Laura” (which was not written for General Hospital) also have legions of fans.
But mention some other titles - “All Right”, “Swept Away”, “No Time for Talk”, for example - and you see more recognition register. Christopher Cross has done more than that career-making, eponymous album of 1980. In fact, at this writing, Christopher has released eight albums (not counting hits packages), a body of work revealing a steady, focused dedication to that commodity known as artistic growth.
Those who ignored the radio and video trends and made the effort to follow Mr. Cross’s career 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.
Christopher’s entry into the public eye was complicated by terms like “meteoric rise” and, the seldom accurate, “overnight success.” Terms longed for before the fact, intoxicating in the moment, 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 Grammys, and one Oscar later, Christopher rested. Wouldn’t you? But waiting there in the wings was that bane of the radio star - the music video. The world suddenly wanted its MTV, and it didn’t take long to see, 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” waned. But on the inside, Cross remained a unique artist, replete with a magical blend of sensitivity, determination, and conviction of his own artistry. And he continued to write. Though not prolific by many standards, Christopher carried on creating vital pop music. And there are Christopher Cross hits - real ones - that many simply have not been fortunate enough to hear.
Beyond the Cross-mania years, Christopher co-wrote and sang that moving song for the 1984 Summer Olympics, “A Chance for Heaven”; he co-wrote and sang the delightful “Loving Strangers” for the hit 1986 Tom Hanks movie, Nothing in Common; and he presented us the following year with “I Will (Take You Forever),” a lovely duet with international Les Miserables star Frances Ruffelle, which has graced many a wedding. Singles from most all of his albums charted in Japan and the rollicking “In the Blink of an Eye” enjoyed a smashing top-ten success in Germany and surrounding territories in 1992.
After Christopher Cross and Another Page, came a string of post-mega-hit albums from the mid-1980s to the present that represented, in a most gratifying manner, a hard-traveled road of integrity, a refusal to compromise: Every Turn of the World, Christopher’s foray into a harder rocking style which befuddled radio programmers 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 set that found Cross tackling subjects that a lesser artist might turn away from; Window, a heartfelt, acoustic-based thumb-of-the-nose at the empty electronics-drenched pop of the era; a double CD set of live and studio recordings, Walking in Avalon, (which spawned a single CD of the studio recordings, Red Room) arguably the very pinnacle of sophisticated, mature, and, lest we forget, fun Christopher Cross music. A Christopher Cross Christmas album, containing perennial favorites such as “The Christmas Song”, “Do You Hear What I Hear”, and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, as well as newly-minted Cross songs, “A Dream of Peace at Christmastime” and “Does it Feel Like Christmas”, conjures up images of family gathered at home to appreciate each other and the season.
The idea for The Cafe Carlyle Sessions came from an atypical booking in the cabaret room of the Hotel Carlyle in New York City that was home to the fabulous Bobby Short. Christopher Cross and cabaret, what do those words have in common? What is an artist who cut his teeth in arenas opening for the Eagles, who is clearly comfortable on a large stage with an electric guitar around his neck going to do? But leave it to the artistry of Christopher Cross to figure it. Serendipitously, edel entertainment had approached producer and friend, Chris Walden, about releasing a jazz album of Cross’s songs. And from that alignment of the stars, comes this ninth album – jazz treatments that give new life to familiar compositions, such as “Ride Like the Wind”, “Sailing” and “Arthur’s Theme”, and reinvent not-so-familiar works such as “Words of Wisdom” and the biographical “Deputy Dan”.
Clearly, Cross’s absence from the pop record machinery has not kept him from moving forward. Every few years, the world is gifted with a new set of CC songs, each album growing innately from the last while resolutely advancing the state of his art. And he continues 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.
With Doctor Faith (2010), Christopher Cross shows his full potential as a songwriter and very talented musician and delivers an album with each song being more beautiful than the one before. Being a very guitar based album “Doctor Faith” represents a departure for the artist, as although he has always written on guitar, his earlier albums were done more from a keyboard-based sound production. The album may surprise some people, not only because of its mesmerizing energy and freshness but also because it shows the social awareness of an artist who’s been in the business for more than three decades - reflecting about what’s going on in the world, in the society, between the generations and in the common day-to-day life. Take for example the uplifting, very forward-thinking opener, “Hey Kid” or the multi-layered song, “I’m Too Old For This”, which is a critical observation of the American society. Another very impressive side of Cross’s songwriting qualities is shown in the title track “Doctor Faith”. The superb Michael McDonald gives the patient of “Doctor Faith” a very plaintive voice.
Cross states, “This album feels not only like a new chapter to my career; it feels like starting a whole new book.”