The genesis of the album lies in recordings made by Stephen Stills and Graham Nash at intervals in 1980 and 1981 and the album was originally slated to be a Stills-Nash project. They employed Art Garfunkel, Timothy B. Schmit, and others to sing in place of where David Crosby might have been. Executives at Atlantic Records, however, had little interest in anything but CSN product from any member of the group, and held out for the presence of Crosby, forcing Nash and Stills to start paying for the sessions out-of-pocket. They began to turn toward the company's point of view, however, and decided to invite Crosby to participate at the eleventh hour.
Crosby brought two of his own tracks to the album, "Delta," where Stills and Nash squeezed their vocals into Crosby's already-taped multi-tracked harmonies, and "Might As Well Have a Good Time," which received the bona fide Crosby, Stills & Nash treatment. Most of the recording, however, features other voices in addition to the main trio, a first for any CSNY record, as is the number of outside writers. The song "Daylight Again" evolved out of Stills' guitar-picking to accompany on-stage stories regarding the South in the Civil War, segueing into "Find the Cost of Freedom," which had been the b-side of the "Ohio" single in 1970.
As the first album by the band in the video age, a music video was filmed to accompany "Southern Cross" featuring the band and one of their favorite metaphors, a sailing vessel. It received a fair amount of rotation on MTV in 1982 and 1983, and helped to propel the album's sales.
The album has been released on compact disc on three occasions: an initial time in the 1980s;remastered using the original master tapes by Ocean View Digital and reissued on September 20, 1994; and again remastered using the HDCD process and reissued by Rhino Records on January 24, 2006, with four bonus tracks.
Stephen Stills — vocals; guitars all tracks except "Delta," "Song for Susan," and "Might As Well Have A Good Time"; keyboards on "Turn Your Back on Love," "Since I Met You" "Raise a Voice," and "Feel Your Love"; banjo on "Daylight Again"; percussion on "Too Much Love to Hide"
Graham Nash — vocals; rhythm guitar on "Turn Your Back on Love" and "Into the Darkness"; harmonica on "You Are Alive" and "Raise a Voice"; piano on "Song for Susan"; organ on "Into the Darkness"; percussion on "Too Much Love to Hide"
Mike Finnigan — keyboards on "Turn Your Back on Love," "Southern Cross," "Into the Darkness," "Since I Met You," "Too Much Love to Hide," "You Are Alive," "Might As Well Have A Good Time," "Feel Your Love," and "Tomorrow Is Another Day" backing vocals — on "Turn Your Back on Love," "Southern Cross," "Since I Met You," "Too Much Love to Hide," and "You Are Alive"
Craig Doerge — keyboards on "Turn Your Back on Love," "Wasted on the Way," "Delta," "Song for Susan," "Might As Well Have A Good Time," "Raise A Voice," "Feel Your Love," "Tomorrow Is Another Day"
^The date constantly given for first generation remastering for digital as issued on compact disc, October 25, 1990, is the earliest date for which amazon.com has records regarding compact disc releases. So, for any CD that came out prior to that, they simply put in that date rather than an actual one since they do not have it. Every single first generation compact disc was not issued on October 25, 1990.