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.
In "Secret Curse" the lyrics are arranged like this:
anonymous hex on flavorless food and terrible sex
a day of no rhythm a night of no rest
and I do not know what sin I have not confessed
terrible blight I'm deafened by sound and blinded by light
caught when I flee and beat when I fight and I'm cocky when wrong
and timid when right and I don't know what crimes have yet to come to light
but it's getting worse
indelible mark, tired at noon, wired at dark
a terrible bite, but never a bark, I don't know what else I can do
And on the first two verses "secret curse" goes right with the following lines, rhythmically speaking, but for the third verse "but it's getting worse" is said with the previous verse's lines, so that there's a slight irregularity. Or in other words something to thwart expectations and make things more interesting.
Also, the line "I used to think that justice had to rule for happy lives, but now I'm not so sure" makes me wonder if Travis has been reading the Republic.
Does the beginning to "Come Home" count as an in medias res entrance?
"Called in sick to work today, I couldn't have gotten a damn thing done."
Reminds me also that the song takes about 40 seconds before the vocals come in, as a number of songs on Change do; but they feel more like catching something in progress than introductory material building up to something. (The music has been playing for a while, then he decides to sing.)
"Pay for the Piano" still does a lot less for me than the other songs save "Secret Curse". I wonder if it's because I find the verse parts less engaging. The chorus is alright. And I guess that the second verse, where the band brings it down a bit, is OK too. (They come back up before the second chorus though.)
Note regarding minimal musical materials still being interesting: the guitar part, that eventually turns into a solo at about 4 minutes in, on "Superpowers".
In "The Face of the Earth" the part where he sings, "It's been a couple years and I guess I'm fine about it" seems to stick out a lot more than the preceding verse; I think this has something to do with the song's appeal, as far as misunderstanding-lyrics-so-they-make-more-of-a-personal-connection goes.
(That is, the fact that the line sticks out makes it easier to ignore the possible lack of fit. Even to the point where the following line, "It's not like we were married it was 3 or 4 months", can be blithely ignored or mutated to fit the listener's own life, etc.)
Phrase to keep in mind: "keyed up".
I never noticed before but I cannot sing along at all to "Sentimental Man" from Change if I want to do it in the right range. I bet they never do that one live.
"Iron Man" was playing during a flashback on King of the Hill tonight (the one where Bill rejoins the football team to re-take his touchdown record) and it was really, really really really good.