Even though one would not necessarily expect Justin Flowers, lead singer of the band The Killers, to come up with deep and spiritual points, his debut single “Crossfire” manages to combine his typical sound with some surprisingly deep insights into the problem of evil and the way that we seek shelter from the troubles of our world in loving relationships, but still struggle to trust those whom we claim to love. This surprising depth of feeling and understanding has led me to greatly appreciate the song. On my flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok last year, as I was on my way to Thailand, I played this song a lot, as it expressed the way I felt very well. It still does, for different reasons, right now.
Verse one of “Crossfire” goes as follows: “There’s a still in the street outside your window. / You’re keeping secrets on your pillow. / Let me inside, no cause for alarm. / I promise tonight not to do no harm, / I promise you babe, I won’t do you no harm .” This verse is a bit ambiguous. It suggests a calm before the storm, where the young woman is keeping secrets, whether those are her betrayal of the singer or whether they are past incidents that the singer can intuitively sense but does not know for sure. The singer protests that he means no harm to the young woman, but it is not entirely clear whether these are mere words or whether he actually means them. Given the context of the song as a whole he appears to mean them, but we must admit room for doubt.
It is clear that one of the major barriers to romantic bliss is the complicated past history of people. These days, everyone has a dramatic sort of history that leaves them damaged fairly early, and developing proper trust and intimacy is a difficult task for many of us for a variety of reasons. Whenever someone is hurt in the context of a relationship, that hurt affects the way that person handles all future relationships. Given the fact that we are all damaged so young these days, we all keep a lot of secrets on our pillow and have trouble letting others in, and being let in ourselves.
The chorus is rather straightforward: “And we’re caught in the crossfire / Of heaven and hell, / And we’re searching for shelter. / Lay your body down. / Lay your body down. / Lay your body down.” Here the singer shows an admirable understanding of the fact that human beings cannot escape the war between good and evil. We have the doom of choice to fight on one side or the other. We are born in captivity to sin, and if we are given the opportunity to be free of that captivity we are faced with the need to fight for love. Like many people, unfortunately, the singer associates that love mainly with romantic love, neglecting the fact that there are other types of love as well that we are commanded to demonstrate toward God and each other.
The second verse reads as follows: “Watching you dress as you turn down the lights, / I forget all about the storm outside. / Dark clouds roll their way over town. / Heartache and pain came a-pouring down, / Like hail, sleet, and rain, yeah, they’re handin’ it out.” It would appear that the singer is singing metaphorically about the storm as a sign of life’s problems and worries, and hoping to find some sort of pain reliever from the suffering in romantic love with his partner. In the midst of life’s problems, the singer hopes that his relationship will be a safe port in the storm. In practice, this is not often the case, but many of us would wish for such happiness in that sphere of our lives.
The bridge of the song goes as follows: “Tell the devil that he can go back from where he came. / That his fiery arrows drew their bead in vain. / And when the hardest part is over we’ll be here. / And our dreams will break the boundaries of our fear, / The boundaries of our fear.” This is the most powerful part of the song to me personally. Judging from the context, it would appear that the partner of the singer shares my own fear of intimacy, and the fact that Satan is connected with this fear suggests some very dark matters indeed. If (and it is not entirely clear) the singer is not merely speaking about the shyness or modesty of his lover as fear, but is speaking about something far deeper and darker, it suggests a deep understanding of the connection between Satan and the barriers to forming loving and intimate relationships and friendships of any kind through fear and suspicion. It would be impolite to speculate on how the singer came to an understanding of this connection, but the singer appears to have connected an understanding of Satan, abuse of some kind, and the difficulty his partner has in intimacy. Sadly, that connection is all too common. After repeating the call for physical intimacy half a dozen more times (“Lay your body down”) the song ends with the line “next to mine,” pointing to the hopes of the singer for intimacy, a longing many of us share, even if the singer does not exactly go about this desire in a proper way by seeking godly marriage.
Even if a godly man (and Justin Flowers appears to fall short of that standard) would seek for intimacy within the bounds of marriage, it would appear that Justin Flowers is notable in drawing the connection between God and love and between Satan and abuse. Though this is not a sufficient connection to avoid continuing the cycles of pain through broken relationships and promiscuity that are rampant in our societies, it is at least a notable recognition that is all too rare in our world of music. For that connection, we must give Justin Flowers some praise, and hope that we can all find intimacy and work on our own healing, as well as that of our loved ones, in our own lives and relationships.