Hi @Jason, in essence you have the correct understanding of cross talk. Although you talk about left and right, we more often think of channel to channel, so say you have each drum (kick, snare, toms, hats etc) element on tracks next to each other. You could get the snare ‘bleed’ onto the kick because of exactly what you say. The ‘louder’ an element is recorded to the tape (how hot it is), will affect how likely it is to bleed.
You could think of the tracks being separated by walls. In the analog tape world, these were plasterboard. As long as things didn’t get too loud, what came through the wall wasn’t much to notice, start shouting at one side of the wall and you could probably make out the words on the other side. In digital, these walls are fully sound proofed (sound isolated). Shout all day long, no-one will hear you. That sounded like a script from a thriller!
Hope that helps. In terms of whether you ‘want’ cross talk, that is now an artistic choice of course. So, it isn’t good or bad, just a choice thing. Like a lot of analog things, we craved to fix them only to find we miss them and create ‘tools’ to recreate the ‘problems’ we wanted so much to fix.