Forty years of Yacht Rock

Published on November 7th, 2021

Christopher Cross is known for two things: The first artist to sweep the “Big Four” Grammy Awards in one year (best album, song, record and new artist, in 1981) and the unwitting father of yacht rock.

However, he’d be happy to do without the yacht rock label, inspired by the title of his Grammy-winning song “Sailing” and applied retroactively to an assortment of 1980s lite-FM pop-rock.

“It pigeonholes you into one time in your career. I continue to make records. I’ve made 12 albums. It precludes people from hearing or being aware of your later work. For me, it’s about writing and making music. That’s why I got into it and that’s why I do it. With my new boxed set (‘The Complete Works’), I’m trying to draw people into my later catalog.”

On the other hand, Cross is well aware that yacht rock is one of the most popular channels on SiriusXM.

“If somebody put on a yacht-rock tour with the five big players — myself, Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates, Toto — it would be massive, but too expensive to hire all those acts.”

Even though Texas native Cross did a little sailing in his younger days, he wrote the song “Sailing” as a metaphor. It was about a pal who became like a big brother.

“It was more about the camaraderie and kinship and the escapism from my father’s alcoholism and family problems rather than the actual activity,” Cross explained. “I joke that he could have taken me bowling.”

Of course, fans show up to Cross concerts wearing skipper caps. He often receives offers to go sailing and once took up Dennis Conner’s invitation to sail on an America’s Cup boat.

While the 70-year-old is still playing, the economics of the industry aren’t in his favor.

“I’m not going to make any more Christopher Cross records. They’re too expensive to make. And given the numbers I’m going to sell, it’s not financially practical. But I still have music to offer.”

So he brings new songs to soundcheck, works them up with his stage band and records the soundchecks. One musician mixes it, and Cross pays for the mastering. The soon-to-be-released album will be called “Messages From the Oracle” by A Musical Collective from Christopher Cross.

“It’s very spontaneous. I don’t need any more awards and accolades.”

Editor’s note: After a bad bout of COVID-19, Cross is resuming a 40th anniversary concert tour that marks the 1980 release of his smash debut album in which “Sailing” was the eighth track.

 

Source: The Day

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