Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
Listening to the Outkast best-of, I have the reverse of my more common experience of learning songs by hearing a band's best-of or some other kind of comp, then finding myself disoriented upon hearing the same songs on their 'proper' albums and not hearing the songs I expect afterward. With Outkast, I know most of the songs on the comp already, so I have that weird experience after, well, most of them.
Why didn't anyone ever tell me "Ain't No Thang" was so great?
I think there's something very valuable and under-appreciated about this experience, of having a song's successor float into your hear just as the one song is ending. More connections are made - it's probably part of why songs on albums we love seem like they have to go together, even if really there's not much musical connection in some technical sense. This doesn't make it less important.
Shuffling some more CDs... Stereolab, Sound-Dust, The Sea and Cake, Oui, Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One, Outkast, Big Boi & Dre Present... and Fugazi, The Argument. I did have disc 2 of Miles' Sileny Way box, the new Beta Band, and Mingus' The Clown in instead of The Sea and Cake, S-K, and Outkast, but the two jazz discs' songs are too long for the amount of variety I want now and I just listened twice to the Beta Band today and it made the songs sound too familiar compared to the other ones.
I also listened to Fugazi three times today but strangely did not experience a similar effect.
In contrast "Ellen and Ben" is musically steady and comfortable, with the repeated outburts from Travis in the chorus, "whyyyyyyy". Lyrically it's still ambivalent and confused, but trying to confront that confusion more stably by just laying out the facts and trying to relate them to the narrator's life (the model planes bit). That doesn't mean any more answers are found than in "Other Side".
And I guess musically though it's more steady, there's still the appropriate measure of ambivalence about the future, as the song just keeps going, more or less, until it's time to end: the confusion and ambivalence are reflected in the way that the song continues on steadily just like we do when we aren't sure what else to do.
"the other side" in "The Other Side" is not a mystical or spiritual thing, but an uncertain thing. So the music is tumultuous, maybe suiting the range of fears we have in the face of uncertainties about our future lives, and our futures with our loved ones.
"there are days when a warm look from a strange face will make me forget my name"
My favorite part near the end of "Time Bomb" is the whiny noise (a guitar I think). It sounds like it's veering back and forth, wavering, sort of woozily.
And remember, "keyed up".
I can't sing in the right range to "Time Bomb" either, but I'm well aware of that fact. Probably because "Time Bomb" is more chorusy - and anthemic??
And now the exuberance I feel when "Following Through" starts is still unbelievable. So much happens in the first 3 seconds!
I have trouble singing this in the right range too.
I couldn't tell you what the lyrics are about even in the most general sense; I forget between listenings that the chorus goes "I can do it anywhere with anyone at anytime don't you forget/this is my life and it's going to be good, don't you know", which might at least give me a sense that they're defiantly standing up for the narrator's right to happiness and autonomy or something like that.
Still the lyrics are important, though.