Christopher Cross Doctor Faith

February 7, 2012 by staff 

Christopher Cross Doctor Faith, Christopher Cross did not want to participate in a photo session. He was wary of even interviewing with the Chronicle, writing in an email weeks before that the paper had a reputation for being “hard on mainstream bands.” He has a point.

In 1981, when his Christopher Cross band collected five Grammys for its eponymous debut, the group’s accomplishments met with ringing indifference here, where it began. After “Ride Like the Wind” charted at No. 2, the follow-up “Sailing” bested it in Billboard. Soon, the awards shelf included an Oscar, and still the Christopher Cross band got no respect, especially in Austin, where songwriting literacy and the elusive perception of authenticity rule.

By the mid Eighties, the group dissolved. Cross recorded more albums and maintained a busy life in and out of the spotlight. It’s the career musicians dream about, but few ever achieve. And after 30 years in Los Angeles, Christopher Cross moved back to Austin late last year.

If it’s cliché to say none of it came easy, it’s true nonetheless. Stardom thrust a sensitive soul with rock-solid credentials and a poet’s heart into the unforgiving glare of mass appeal. When Cross writes, “I am the reluctant celebrity,” he’s not being modest.

Cross’ house in West Austin is not large or ostentatious. It’s neat in the typical prosperous neighborhood style and exudes a genteel attractiveness. The property includes a garage apartment where his son Rain lives. Cross’ desire to stay close to his children factored into his move here. He likewise keeps a New York City residence, where daughter Madison attends college. Another son, Justin, lives in Birmingham, Ala.

The khaki walls of the white-trimmed front room are lined with a dozen or so framed gold and platinum records, an impressive showing for a career bestowed with the most sought-after honors in the entertainment business: an Academy Award, Grammys, and a Golden Globe. Down the hall is his home studio, also spare and unassuming but tidy. The house suggests someone organized and in control of his low-key surroundings.

Cross’ reticence about photo sessions doesn’t apply to his general demeanor; he’s tall and imposingly built, neatly dressed and with a passion for fine Borsalino hats. He’s also the Exhibit A of artists who’d rather let their work speak for itself.

“The biggest gift of my career has been to work with and meet those artists I idolized growing up, whether it’s Randy Newman or the Beach Boys,” he says earnestly. “I realize, ‘Oh, I’m Christopher Cross, and I’m famous, too’ on some level because people know who I am, but then there’s Brian Wilson or Joni Mitchell or Randy Newman, and that’s a whole other thing.

“They are larger than life. I have to pinch myselfsometimes.”

Yet there’s Cross, in the same room with Brian Wilson, conversing as peers. Staying true to his pop affections, Cross famously became a target of derision, especially in the town he picked to live in after leaving San Antonio.

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