The early ’80s were a magical time for singer/songwriter Christopher Cross. His self-titled debut album garnered him five Grammy Award wins as tunes like “Ride Like the Wind,” “Never Be the Same” and “Sailing” catapulted up the charts. Next came the No. 1 hit, “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You can Do),” which earned him an Oscar, and a clamoring of fans wanting a second album.
That came in 1983, when “Another Page” produced hits such as “All Right,” “No Time for Talk” and “Think of Laura,” a song that was forever immortalized by “General Hospital” when it was used to mark the return on Genie Francis as the soap’s most famous heroine.
Today, Cross has an important message for those fans: “I didn’t drop off the map after 1983 and two albums,” he said. “I hope people know that I didn’t disappear or retire, I kept doing what I do and there’s lots of music they probably haven’t heard.”
His idea to remind his fans of his existence—“Take an ad in AARP?”
Seriously, Cross isn’t bitter about his career journey and understands that musical styles go in cycles, so when “Every Turn of the World” didn’t muster any hits in 1985, and his follow-ups failed to grab the excitement of his early works, he just kept on singing.
“I got a really great start in this business and even though it didn’t last very long, most people can walk up to me on the street and know of my songs,” Cross said. “I really appreciate the support. It gave me a longevity and I am very appreciative of that. It’s very rewarding to me.”
Cross will be heading to the Barns at Wolf Trap for two shows, Friday and Saturday, to show the world what they’ve been missing.
“We always do the hits. You do your fans a disservice if you don’t play those,” he said. “I made nine albums and we try to sample a little from that landscape so people will hear songs from throughout my career as well. Hopefully, they will like that music as much as the old stuff.”
There’s his moving song from the 1984 Summer Olympics, “A Chance for Heaven”; the delightful “Loving Strangers” from the Tom Hanks/Jackie Gleason movie, “Nothing in Common”; and the beautiful “I Will (Take You Forever)” duet with international Les Miserables star Frances Ruffelle, which is a wedding mainstay.
“With radio the way it is, you’ll never hear these songs,” Cross said. “The Sailings and Arthurs I used to step on to get across but these are other songs I care a lot about that I think are every bit of good. When I play one of those songs and get a reaction, it shows me I can still do quality work and connect, and that means a lot to me.”
Cross is also happy to be coming to the Barns, a place he’s played many times and one that he always looking forward to coming back to.
“It’s so intimate and I enjoy being closer to the people. For the kind of music I play, it offers me more of a connection,” he said. “I used to live on Walter Reed in D.C., from the ages of 5 to 10, because my father was an army doctor and I have very fond memories of that time and being here.”
Last May, Cross released his first album of new material in a dozen years, “Dr. Faith,” although he did release an unplugged album, a live album and a Christmas album in that timeframe.
“I went through a divorce after 18 years, relocated and had personal stuff that distracted me from the process,” he said. “I was very happy with the new work and I already have 14 songs in progress and expect to have another album out in 2013.”
The 61-year-old knows that the industry has changed and he’s not likely to see a hit of legendary proportions again, but that’s ok with him.
“I don’t think about the radio or expect any return to the success. I am just thankful I had success I had with the peer group I was in, a very rich group of songwriters,” he said. “I write because it’s what I do. I get a lot of satisfaction and it keeps me happy.”