Interpretations:All Time What
A Stultifying Relationship
This song, in my eyes, is fairly literal; it's meaning is hidden behind some uncommon words. I believe that this is about a person who has little self-control, made evident by the lines I use my outside voice because I have no choice and Same old sad soliloquy. According to Google, soliloquy is the act of speaking one's thoughts with no regard to who may be hearing it; acting very self-centered, monologuing, etc. The reason as to why our protagonist is like this may be found in the second chorus, which states Stumble about wrapped in a shroud and Partly submerged playing a dirge (which is a song for the departed). Perhaps this person has a mental condition where they have no boundaries, brought on by being "raised in a barn constructed out of noise", and simply cannot help being the way they are. However, their significant other (their "buttercup") doesn't understand this, shown in several lines including Left me here to ruminate, which means ponder or contemplate, as if they could break out of their problem that easily, even though it's a mental trap that our protagonist is stuck in. The only line left that I don't quite understand is she pulled out the rug from her doodlebug - perhaps meaning her departure was sudden? Is doodlebug a nickname for our protagonist?
In the song, it sounds like the singer is the cause of the break up. He's being honest about his faults. He has no tact and maybe overshares. That contributed to the problem but the lines "Left me here to ruminate on all she can't admit And all she can't explain" make me think that, while the singer is very aware of his faults, she can't admit hers. Maybe he's trying to discuss the problems in the relationship frankly but she won't do it. She can't explain herself and won't admit her role in the breakup.
That's where I think we get the "What just happened?" All Time What.
The "complete defeat" part is organized like an English grammar class exercise of a series of intensifying words, like "loud, louder, loudest". In this case it's a phrase that starts with "complete defeat", then "completely defeated", then the most intense (but non-English) "completelier defeatlier". He feels so completely defeated that it goes beyond language. He is screaming this part (using his "outside voice"). --Nehushtan (talk) 12:33, 3 September 2019 (EDT)
I believe 'all time what' is about an elderly person with Alzheimer's disease.
The repetition of "all time what" could also be heard as "alzheim what?" As though the person is so far gone they can't even recall the name of the disease. "all time what, i never thought" is also a descriptor of Alzheimer's, a state of constantly wondering what.
The character uses flashcards "where someone's written stultify" to remember, and the entire song takes place as the events are actually happening, representing the narrator's confusion.
His wife leaves him because of "all she can't explain" which i take to mean she became fed up with taking care of him. However, before the singer can process this, he finds himself at her funeral.
"partly submerged, playing a dirge".
As her closest relative, the confused man is left to clean up after the funeral.
"They handed me a broom, the guest has left the room"
The entire song carries a feeling of melancholy confusion and frustration. Never outright anger or sadness. Almost a feeling of the singer being lost.