I read this post early in the evening and had a little chuckle to myself. I agree that some music is just so perfect that lyrics completely spoil it (especially when sung less than perfectly - as I think Bill is suggesting might be happening in some cases). However, I've been listening to music with lyrics almost all evening and I fell it my duty to state that some vocalists produce such wonderful sounds that it's the music that gets in the way.
Predominantly however, I feel that the world of music is a place where vocals aren't a separate entity. They are music. There is a whole world of goodness out there where vocals mix with 'played' music to produce the most fantastic expressions of feeling. One very fine example is the music of Cat Stevens. Lyrics like:
Love, That's no way to live your life, you allow too much to go by, and that won't do. No, lover. I want to have you here by my side Now don't you run, don't you hide, while I'm with you.
They seem so strange when read off a page but turn into the most amazingly emotive expressions when put to music and sung the way Cat Stevens sings. It's music like this that just makes me want to forget about the world for a while and go and crawl into bed just so I can put my arms around Laura.
While with Cat Stevens the music and the accompanying vocals are equally enchanting some music like the album I'm listening to right now (White Ladder by David Gray) is really made by the vocals.
Sail away with me honey I put my heart in your hands Sail away with me honey now, now, now Sail away with me What will be will be I wanna hold you now
If you stripped them away to reveal the music it would be ok but not what I'd call interesting. But his songs are almost equally emotive as those by Cat Stevens (so long as you're in the right mood of course).
Great music just makes you want to get lost in a world of sound. I just want to bung on the headphones (or better yet - turn the volume up and not worry about disturbing people) and feel the music and nothing else. Just let the music flow. And sing. If that's what makes the music - sing.