It takes longer to become familar with the words of a song. Possibly it is my interest in instant gratification that made me once say that music was more important than lyrics (besides which I am something of a 'timbre junkie'). But with a familiar song both play an important and complimentary function in producing that virtual reality. I enjoy the odd instrumental. I even enjoy the odd bit of poetry. But I enjoy best that which brings the two together - a song.
Of course the voice is an instrument and the way in which it conveys words helps with the impact of those words. If the voice singing those words cracks with emotion then the words may be all the more effective. Other things that can contribute to the effect of the words may be a pause mid-phrase or the repetition of a particular word.
Some of the simplest songs can be the best. I love an epic musical excursion with esoteric lyrical content as much as the next nerd. But I have been very much enjoying some stuff lately characterised by basic music and transparent lyrics. So my housemates may have noticed a lot of Beatles and Supremes lately. What is it with the 60s? I listen to one of those songs and suddenly I am in love with whomever the writer or singer was in love with (even if just for the few minutes duration of that song).
I am into 'newer' music too. I recently got the Elvis Costello album 'Spike' (1989) and it is full of amazing storytelling and exploring of the human condition. Likewise I got 'Tragic Kingdom' (1995) by No Doubt and am taken on some kind of exploration of relationships from all sorts of vantages and perspectives.
Why is all the music I refer to old stuff? It may be that it just takes me a long time to accept something new so that by the time I do it has become old. But it is more than that. I have joked that my musical interests age faster than I do and a part of that may be an interest in the vibe evoked by music of other times. But I also want there to be some sense of familiarity which is possibly why most of what I am into is still from recent decades. And so I am connected to other fans of the same music across generations and lives as we all sing along with the same transcendent words and notes.
One more thing - Is there anything that mixes the fury of Rage Against The Machine with the sleepiness of Enya coz if there is that is what I need to listen to right now...