Born in 1991 in Kentucky, Tyler Childers is a very popular contemporary singer. His music is associated with the genres of country music and bluegrass. These genres are typically associated with rich, earthy music tones. Such music is often meant for common people as they are relatable. They have lyrics and themes that speak to everyday lives and concerns.
What does the title mean
The title seems both literal and metaphorical. It could refer literally to someone named May whom the singer is in love with. It could also refer metaphorically to the month of May. This meaning has symbolic associations because of seasonal changes.
The reference to the month of May also alludes to the fact that this song has often been referred to as a pastoral. The pastoral is a well-established genre of poetry and music that has been around for many centuries.
The pastoral reminds us that we are part of this planet. It links human beings with the natural world. It often has imagery related to nature and the environment. During our current environmental crisis, the pastoral seems more significant than ever.
Verse 1 – What does it mean
“I’m a stone’s throw from the mill
And I’m a good walk to the river
When my workin’ day is over
We’ll go swim our cares away
Put your toes down in the water
And a smile across your face
And tell me that you love me
Lovely Lady May”
The first verse contains lovely idyllic imagery that shows us two lovers in the countryside. They meet by the river after a long and hard day’s work. The image of dipping your toes in the water suggests relaxation and lack of tension.
This verse is reminiscent of classic pastoral works such as Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”. The pastoral becomes the ideal setting for love because it is the opposite of an urban space. Urban spaces are typically restrictive in nature. They remind us about our jobs, our pending bills, and all the other stresses that city life imposes on us. The countryside, on the other hand, is a bucolic space where we can truly give in to our yearning to be free of constraints.
What does the chorus mean
“Now I ain’t the sharpest chisel
That your hands have ever held
But darlin’ I could love you well
Til’ the roll is called on high
I’ve seen my share of trouble
And I’ve held my weight in shame
But I’m baptized in your name
Lovely Lady May”
The chorus reveals the singer’s Christian upbringing and influences. It connects the singer’s religious beliefs to his love by saying that he has been baptized in the names of the person he loves.
The chorus of “Lady May” also has the striking metaphor of a chisel. A chisel is usually a sharp instrument, but the singer says here that he isn’t the sharpest one. This metaphor seems to imply that he is not handsome, intelligent, rich, or successful. He seems to be indicating that she could do better than him if she wants material wealth. However, he makes up for his other shortcomings by being extremely loving and faithful.
In this, it feels as though the singer is pointing out that love and loyalty are far more important than any other material pursuits.
Verse 2 – What does it mean
“Lord the wind can leave you shiverin’
As it waltzes o’er the leaves
It’s been rushin’ through my timber
Til’ your love brought on the spring
Now the mountains all are blushin’
And they don’t know what to say
‘Cept a good long line of praises
For my lovely Lady May”
This verse also has religious associations. It connects the idea of God with strong cold winds that make us shiver. The verse also reinforces the idea of the pastoral. It makes it seem as though the wind and the mountains are participating in the singer’s love and happiness.
The idea of mountains blushing is also a kind of personification of the landscape. The image reminds us that while we often treat the natural world as though it is an inanimate object, it should be treated with kindness and sensitivity.
Verse 3 – What does it mean
“Now I ain’t the toughest hickory
That your ax has ever felled
But I’m a hickory just as well
I’m a hickory all the same
I came crashin’ through the forest
As you cut my roots away
And I fell a good long ways
For my lovely Lady May”
This verse is a modified version of the first chorus. Instead of the metaphor of a chisel, this time the singer uses the metaphor of a hickory tree. As before, he says that he may not be the best or strongest one of his kind. These lines cement the bond between the human and natural worlds because the singer identifies almost completely with the tree. He carries on the tree metaphor throughout the verse. This kind of an extended metaphor becomes an analogy. The analogy between the human and the tree suggests that he relates to the natural world.
The metaphor also shows how much he is willing to endure for his love. The image of a tree being felled by an ax is a sad and violent one. The singer seems to be talking about all the opposition that lovers face because of society. He feels like a tree whose roots have been torn away. However, his love means so much to him that he is gladly willing to suffer whatever he has to.
This amazing song is a wonderful example of country music and the pastoral. Its lyrics are simple but meaningful. The singer expresses his ideas and feelings about his love for Lady May in sweet and direct imagery. He leaves us with the notion that love is almost like a religious experience for him.
Traditionally, the pastoral has always been a reminder that we have more in common with the natural world than we think we do. Our societal contexts often tell us that we are rational beings who have dominion over the planet and the natural world. But songs such as this one remind us that we are one with the planet. The singer tells us that the river and mountains lovingly support him and his love for Lady May. Nature here becomes an enduring symbol of long-lasting love.
The song can also be seen as a celebration of common people and the hardships they face in everyday life. We live in money-driven societies where only the rich have privileges. But this song tells us that even the most seemingly underprivileged among us can still take heart in the bonds of love. Love is not just an indicator of strong bonds with other individuals. Through the genre of the pastoral, we are also reminded that love also connects us to the natural world as well as the universe at large.