These days, having your song played in a film, commercial or TV series is one of the most sought-after ways to market music. But when the ABC soap General Hospital started playing Oscar- and Grammy-winning Christopher Cross Think of Laura, it wasnt exactly welcome by the artist.
Tony Geary (General Hospitals Luke Spencer) was a big fan of that record and suggested it when they wanted to bring (the character of) Laura back. They never used enough of it to need a license. They would just use a little for a ghosting effect. Id written the song for my girlfriend and I to mourn (her best friend) Laura. I didnt want the song to be depersonalized, he says.
In retrospect, he realizes the wide exposure allowed more listeners to identify with that loss. Later on, even her parents said, Its nice. It shares the feeling with other people and as time went on it brought (Lauras family) some solace.
Coincidentally, Cross will meet up with that same Charlotte-based old flame, when he plays Neighborhood Theatre Sunday. It marks his first time playing Charlotte in his 35-year career.
Cross most notable recent foray into television was writing a theme in 2010 for Tina Feys 30 Rock, character Liz Lemon, who was obsessed with Crosss music. In addition, Sailing, was covered on Foxs Glee, in 2011, and an appearance with the Roots and Michael McDonald on Late Night with Jimmy Fallons, Cross-piloted Yacht Rock Party served to introduce him to a younger generation.
He sees fans age 20 to 70 at shows, but later albums like 2010s Doctor Faith, admittedly dont sell as well as those early smashes.
Doctor Faith, features some heavy, original, and mature subject matter from aging in the industry and the next generation to modern-day masculinity (Help Me Cry), but most consider Cross popular work his best.
My first album is a meteoric start that is hard to match. There are people that come to my shows that arent aware of the rest of the catalog. There are hardcore fans that if I were to (ask for requests) would write down five songs that you dont know. People get trapped in the early work because it was an early time in their life, he explains. It is frustrating. Doctor Faith and Walking in Avalon are some of the best stuff weve made. Were getting smarter about our writing and have a broader perspective.
Yet he figures hes in good company.
We follow in a long line of amazing artists whose later works have been overlooked. Joni Mitchells work was applauded early on. As she got more adventurous, she got cast aside. Randy Newman, Jackson Browne, Tom Waits early work is well-known. Its a good club to be in, he says.
Bob (Dylan) is certainly one of my top tier of writers. I prefer the acoustic period of his work, as opposed to what he does now. Im sure thats frustrating for him. Like me, hes probably like, This is what Im doing now.