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The Meaning of Tyler Childers’ “Jersey Giant”

Tyler Childers with Elle King, 2023. Elle King released “Jersey Giant” on her 2023 album Come Get Your Wife. Photo from Elle King’s Instagram.

Tyler Childers has had fans begging for a studio recording of “Jersey Giant” ever since he first uploaded a barebones acoustic recording of the track to his Soundcloud in 2012 (removed, October 2023). It has over 7 million plays as of my writing this, and other versions on YouTube and elsewhere also have play counts in the millions.

Featuring vocal harmonies from Tyler’s wife Senora May, the track contains all of the nostalgic beauty that fans have come to love from this songwriter.

You can hear that original upload below, and keep reading to learn more about the track.

Tyler Childers – “Jersey Giant” (2012)

While Tyler himself has never released “Jersey Giant”, in 2022 he gave the song to Elle King for her album Come Get Your Wife. Fun fact, Elle King is the daughter of actor Rob Schneider.

Elle King – “Jersey Giant” (2022)

In February 2023, not long after the release of Come Get Your Wife, Childers joined Elle King for a performance of “Jersey Giant” at the Manchester Music Hall in Lexington, Kentucky. What a pleasant surprise for the fans in attendance that night. And a beautiful moment when she brings him out.

See that performance below, and then we’ll take a look at the lyrics.

Elle King & Tyler Childers – “Jersey Giant” (Live, 2/19/23)

“Jersey Giant” Lyrics Meaning

Tyler’s lyrics to “Jersey Giant” depict memories of a budding relationship. That relationship has since ended, but he still remembers them fondly. Then, he gets to thinking, that if she ever gets lonely like him, she can call him up, and he’ll get there as soon as he can.

Let’s see the first verse:

I remember all them summers
Playing ’til my fingers bled
You’d sing the songs and I’d sing with ya
We’d get drunk and go to bed
Looking back at all them memories
Lord, I hate to sleep alone
But if you ever get the notion
That you need me, let me know

First verse to “Jersey Giant” by Tyler Childers.

Tyler was just starting out as a musician, playing constantly. He would drink and sing all night long with his girlfriend at the time. Now, as he looks back, he wishes she was there with him.

The chorus contains his rationale for his this could work, and also a note about how things went wrong:

‘Cause it’s just two hours to get there, babe
I can make it back about an hour or so
Hold you close against my skin
I need a little warmth on a night so cold
Singing the songs you used to sing
The one about the lady in the long, black veil
Should’ve seen warnings signs
But I loved to hear you wail
High and lonesomе, hard and strong
Even if it was a little out of tune
Hottеr than socks on a Jersey Giant
Lord, I thought you hung the moon

Chorus to “Jersey Giant” by Tyler Childers.

She’s only two hours away, and he’s willing to make the drive. He wants to snuggle up beside her, on a cold night, and sing the songs they sung together so long ago.

One such song is the famous country ballad “The Long Black Veil”. Written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin, originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell, and made famous by Johnny Cash.

Johnny Cash – “The Long Black Veil” (1968)

“Hotter than the socks on a Jersey Giant”

This lyric is as country as they come. According to a discussion on Reddit, he is referring to a breed of chicken called the Jersey Giant. The phrase “putting socks on a Rooster” is an idiom for something that is extremely difficult to do, similar to the common idiom “herding cats”.

“Sexier than socks on a rooster” is also an old Southern saying, which was said by Andie MacDowell in the 2011 remake of Footloose:

Thus, the lyric means that his girlfriend is very attractive, and even moreso for her unique qualities.

“Lord, I thought you hung the moon”

Tyler thought so highly of this woman, as if she placed the moon in the sky herself.

Next up, we have the second verse:

I remember all them winters
Drinking Woodford ’til we drowned
We’d get wind about a party
Bundle up and go to town
Never worry ’bout the police
Never worried much at all
I miss those nights of reckless glory
And I’d come back if you’d just call

Second verse to “Jersey Giant” by Tyler Childers.

The first verse is summer memories, and the second one is winter memories. They’re having just as much fun together in the wintertime, drinking Woodford Reserve Bourbon. They’d drink and drive themselves to a party, not concerned about potential consequences.

Another chorus follows, and then the bridge:

I left town when we were over
‘Cause it didn’t feel the same
Every backroad had a memory
And every memory held your name

Bridge to “Jersey Giant” by Tyler Childers.

When they broke up, he got out of town. It was all too much to handle, with reminders of their relationship around every corner.

It’s not clear whether or not Tyler Childers will ever take “Jersey Giant” to the studio. Probably less likely now that Elle King has released it, at least for a few years, as it wouldn’t be so nice of him to steal her spotlight. It’s a big career move for Elle to have released this song.

What I do know is that if we ever do get a studio recording of “Jersey Giant”, with the backing of Tyler’s current musical ensemble, The Food Stamps, and a professional engineer, we’re in for a treat.