Not many people may have heard about Stephen, yet quite a few have heard his song “Crossfire”. In the Indie scene, he’s known for his abilities to produce some amazing covers. He shot to fame with his cover of Adele’s “Hello”. Stephen Michael Schwartz was born in Virginia, USA. He specializes in producing electronic hip hop and alternative music. Many critics in the industry have praised him for his ability to expirement radically with his music. At the age of 30, he is just getting into his prime career-wise. As of 2022, he has been associated with labels such as Halfway House Records, Monstercat,and Heroic Music Group. He has also released music independently, most notable of which is his extended play “It’s too much love to know my dear”.
His hit single “Crossfire” was a part of his 2016 album “Sincerely”. It was this album that established him and gave him his own identity in the music industry. He has his own website through which he interacts with his fans and potential business partners. All in all, he’s a promising artist who is still yet to reach his full potential. And judging by his track “Crossfire”, he has a lot of it.
What does the Title mean?
This song is very politically charged. However, it doesn’t target any specific incident or personality. Instead, it speaks on generalities and Stephen draws heavily from his own position in his particular society to add depth to this song. Not only does it make more genuine, but also grounds it in reality. It does not fall victim to overt exaggerations. The title of the song “Crossfire” refers to those who sre unfortunate enough to be caught in literal crossfire of guns as well as the political crossfire of nations and governments that end up producing refugees and war victims.
Verse 1 – What does it mean?
“He’d trade his guns for love
But he’s caught in the crossfire
And he keeps wakin’ up
But it’s not to the sound of birds
The violent streets
Deprived of all that we’re blessed with
And we can’t get enough, no”
The first verse begins with the sentiments of a common soldier or fighter who’s caught in the literal crossfire of guns. His life has been reduced to war and conflict. He is in a helpless position as he is only a pawn in the game. He has not alternative, other than to fight for his survival. If it was up to him, he’d trade war for peace any time. This is perhaps the outlook of most soldiers, officers, and even higher ups in the military. These are the people who often see conflict firsthand and all of the horrors that come with it. Thus, they know the true value of peace. However, most of them have no control over conflicts because they’re pushed into wars by politicians who’ve never stepped foot into a fistfight let alone a battlefield.
The verse continues to describe the common soldier’s plight. He wakes up to the sounds of guns and bombs instead of birds chirping. The aim here is perhaps to create a contrast between those who’ve seen conflict and those who wake up to the sounds of birds chirping in the suburbs. The last four lines of the verse describe conflicts that happen within a nation in the streets, where most civilians die. Stephen closes the verse with a jab that can make any individual reconsider his life. The earth is so beautiful and we have so much, yet we give in to the greed (especially the rich and the politicians). And it seems that we just can’t get enough, we’re always hungry for more. That leads to conflict and suffering.
What does the Chorus mean?
“Heaven, if you sent us down
So we can build a playground
For the sinners to play as saints
You’d be so proud of what we’ve made
I hope you got some beds around
‘Cause you’re the only refuge now
For every mother, every child, every brother
That’s caught in the crossfi-
That’s caught in the crossfire”
The chorus takes a sarcastic jab at humanity as a whole. He addresses God or the Universr by using the word “Heaven” and says that if the mission was to portray the wicked as saints, then we have succeded. The politicians have made this beautiful planet their playground where they exploit fellow human beings as well as nature. The last four lines of this verse are a bit complicated as they have a dual meaning which Stephen confirmed himself in an interview. He said that by “you”, he means death. Most people who are stuck in war-torn areas only find refuge in death. Their suffering causes them to think that they’d be better off dead. Another interpretation of these lines, which is a bit more positive, is that Stephen is speaking to faith and love. Even those whose suffering is indescribable can end up finding refuge in love and faith. It may sound offensive but there have been instances when human beings carry on only because of faith and love. A major example of this would be the movie “Life is Beautiful” which revolves around the life of a holocaust victim and his use of humor to shield his son.
Verse 2 – What does it mean?
“I’d trade my luck to know
Why he’s caught in the crossfire
And I’m here wakin’ up
To the sun and the sound of birds
Deprived of all that we’re blessed with
We just can’t get enough, no”
The second verse begins with Stephen shedding light on his own frustration. He wants to know why he was priviliged to be born into a peaceful life, in a powerful nation, while there are people who are getting bombed in the other part of the world. This is a reference to the power dynamics between developed and developing nations (particularly the middle-east). The phrase “society’s anxiety” against takes a dig at the first world citizens and their first world problems. While they make a big deal about their panic attacks, people in war-torn countries have to constantly put up with death all around them, shortage of food and water, and whatnot. The verse again closes with him emphasizing on the fact that we have so much around us for everyone to share, yet we give in to our greed.
What does the Bridge mean?
“Can I trust what I’m given?
When faith still needs a gun
Justifies the wrong?
And I can’t see from the backseat
So I’m askin’ from above
Can I trust what I’m given
Even when it cuts?”
In the bridge, Stephen wonders whether he can ever see it all. Like most citizens, he’s in the backseat and doesn’t know what goes in the White House. Yet, he still can see the inequalities and the apparent evils. Isn’t it ironical that faith requires guns? Whose ammunition is righteous? Aren’t both sides composed of human beings? Thus, Stephen asks whether he can trust what is fed to him by those who control the nations, i.e. propaganda.
“Crossfire” is a song that is no less than a thesis. It perfectly captures the human condition of the 21st century. The suffering, the greed, the denial of suffering, the guilt, the privileges – all mixed into a lyrical masterpiece. It’s a song that you have to listen to with your own ears to know its true value.