Friday, December 26, 2014

Christopher Cross' Debut Album

In December of 1979, Christopher Cross released his first album. The cover bore only his name and a rather pastoral painting of a flamingo — which, by the way, popped up on his other albums, too. The flamingo became something of a symbol for him.

It was soft rock, as the hits from the album verified, one by one. But, you know, that was OK because Cross never pretended to be doing anything else. As soft rock albums go, this one was darn near flawless, and it was helped by the presence of some of the top talent of the day to back him up — Don Henley of the Eagles provided some vocals as did Nicolette Larson, J.D. Souther and Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.

Those who are eternally possessed of a teenage mentality will recall some of the tracks, like "Never Be The Same," in which the song's narrator laments the end of an affair and repeatedly pledges to live out his days alone.

Looking back, the song reeks of the angst of a teenager mourning the end of his first love affair. Those of us who survived our teen years and our first loves — and that is most of us — will say that, while painful, they aren't as extreme as Cross' music makes them seem.

At the time, though, the song seemed to rejuvenate a sagging radio industry. "Never Be The Same" was Cross' third Top 10 single from the album. It said nothing profound, but one can still imagine millions of broken–hearted teens listening to it endlessly and convincing themselves that the song was written for them.

What rubbish.

The first Top 10 single from the album was "Ride Like the Wind," which got as high as #2 on the charts. It was followed by "Sailing," which became the top–selling single in August of 1980.

"Sailing" went on to be named the Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards and probably was what propelled the album to Album of the Year, beating Pink Floyd's "The Wall." I guess that was where things changed for that album and me. See, at first I thought Cross' album was pleasant enough, and I had no serious objections to it until it aced out Pink Floyd at the Grammys.

When that happened — and for quite awhile thereafter — I would switch off my radio if I happened to be driving around and one of Cross' songs came on. I would rather drive in silence than listen to Christopher Cross after his simplistic music won awards that should have gone to Pink Floyd.

I felt it was a clear case of commercialism triumphing over the obvious best choice — and I went from being able to tolerate songs from the album to not even being able to do that.

I can report that I have overcome my objections, and I can listen to tracks from that album now. I can even appreciate them for what they are/were.

They have their place.