Now, all those in favour of having the song lyrics printed on the CD/Vinyl cover, please raise your hands . . .? Ah. I thought so. Some of you actually like that.
For me, I have a number of objections to that. The first would be, that if a lyric isn't enunciated distinctly enough to be intelligible, then that's the way it is. It's part of the whole song. If, for example, I ever found out what Joe Strummer is actually saying at the end of "London Calling", I think I'd probably be disappointed. Right now, in my imagination, he's exhorting us to hark to some post-apocalyptic message, which could probably never live up to the vagaries of my mind. As has been noted, misheard lyrics are often better than the reality. The National's singer's style is often half-mumbled, and all the better for it. Same for Tindersticks. Some of Liz Frazer's finest moments would look faintly ridiculous in the cold hard light of the printed word.
But there's another objection, which is that lyrics don't stand up as poetry. It would be like trying to compare a car to a bicycle. Sure, they can both convey something, but the whole ethos behind them is different. Taking the lyrics out of their musical context, I think does them a disservice.
My final objection is that it also has the potential to be insufferably pompous. "Look at these great words", the cover seems to be saying, "are they not magnificent?". Nine times out of ten the answer is usually, er, no, they're not. It would have been better not to have known.
There's some obvious exceptions (Cohen, Dylan, Joni Mitchell), when I do actually want to know the lyrics. But, funnily enough, those artists have good diction, and I can understand the words without recourse to a book.
You know who I blame for all this? Yep, prog-rockers. They're usually to blame for most things.
Mind you, my objections are probably already pretty much outdated. With downloads at present, there's only the music file, the lyrics/cover art aren't currently bundled up into one format.