Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Christopher Cross, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”
37 years ago today, Christopher Cross landed atop the Billboard Hot 100 for the second time in his career, an achievement which occurred with a little help from his friends…or at least his co-writers.
Already riding high as a result of the success of his first #1 single, “Sailing,” Cross was fortunate enough to find himself in a position to collaborate with some pretty high-profile people, and when it comes to songwriting, it doesn’t get much more high-profile than Burt Bacharach. Cross had actually been asked to write the score for the Dudley Moore / Liza Minnelli film Arthur, only for writer/director Steve Gordon to change his mind and hand that duty over to Bacharach, but Bacharach was kind enough to invite Cross to collaborate with him and his then-wife, Carole Bayer Sager, on the theme song.
“I went up to Burt and Carol’s and, you know, it was pretty intimidating,” Cross told Popdose in 2011. “I mean, certainly Carol I have tremendous regard for, but in the case of Burt, it was very intimidating. He was a huge influence on me and my craft throughout, as I think he is on just about all songwriters, and, fortunately, he’s intimidating because of the immense talent he has, but he’s not personally. He’s very warm, and he made me feel about as comfortable as I could…considering I was sitting with Burt Bacharach! But it was very wonderful. I got there about midnight, and it was about five in the morning when we finished the song. We ended up collaborating with Peter (Allen) over the phone, in Australia. So it was a wonderful opportunity for me. It’s a moment I’ll always remember.”
(If you don’t know the story about how Peter Allen ended up getting involved, we’ll give you a quick nutshell summary: Allen, Minnelli’s ex-husband, once co-wrote a song with Bayer-Sager which featured a line in its chorus that said, “When you get caught between the moon and New York City.”)
As history reveals, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” was a massive hit, not unlike the movie which utilized the song, hitting #1 not only on the Hot 100 but also on the Adult Contemporary Singles chart. Although “Arthur’s Theme” would prove to be Cross’s final #1 on the Hot 100, he still had another Adult Contemporary chart-topper in his quiver: “Think of Laura.”
Alas, “Think of Laura” only hit #9 on the pop charts…but, hey, it was the best that he could do!
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