What Chris Brecht and Dead Flowers give us with the song, “Streetlights,” from their newest album, “Dead Flower Motel,” is a story about the insecurities that rest in all of us. It’s a story about how little it’s possible to feel, even without feeling little at all. It’s a song that puts into context exactly what we grapple with on a daily basis, even if we’re unable or unwilling to put our finger on its pulse. The Austin, Texas, songwriter wrote a song about deep waters. It’s a song that asks you to look out upon that lake in front of you and guess how far it goes down. So, you guess, throwing a number back at him that’s comically low. He asks you to try again. You think harder for a second, believing this is a waste of time, tack on another couple hundred feet, trying to be ridiculous and give an answer. He laughs again and tells you that you’re way off. He tells you that the lake goes on for thousands of miles, straight down and out. You question that he knows this for certain and then he plays “Streetlights” for you and you doubt him far less. We find that he has a great capacity for knowing the depths of men, and he might know something about the depths of the fairer sex too, if only in that the depths and black holes of men are often owed to the interactions between the two sets. He seems to have come to the conclusion that we’re as temporary as it gets – nothing but a speck of dust that can be quickly and quietly forgotten about, blown off. The temporariness extends in all manners and in all ways, making us brittle and soft when we’re broken down into our few parts.
We know it in our hearts – that we’re weak and expendable – but we also can see the beauty in that. We are brief and we are supposed to make the most of it. Brecht does this by finding the beauty in the smallest things, those toss-away details that, for many, are imperceptible, but they’re the bits that make a writer great and make a satisfied person. He sings on “Streetlights, “There’s no telling if the streetlights glow for us/I know there are certain things you didn’t want me to see/So I watched your toes curl while you watched TV/And I knew you wouldn’t remember a thing I said so I watched your ankles at the edge of the bed.” Those toes and those ankles, perceived with nothing but love in the eyes and gazed upon by a man savoring the juts and the curves and the subtle movements when they believe that they aren’t being monitored, are those sorts of lasting impressions that can’t be taken back. They are to be the mementos that will survive fires, divorces, goodbyes, tears and end times. They will be all that’s left – that and the luster ringing in the ears or stinging your cheeks and lips. He sings about pain the way a man that respects pain sings about pain. It’s not a fear of pain, but a nod to it, as if to silently acknowledge that such a sensation can only exist out of the wreckage of something much happier. And so we nod to that pain and we feel little.