Song Of The Week: “First Of May” by Jonathan Coulton

This week shall be ribald.

Unfortunately, that description doesn’t get tossed around too much anymore, despite how much fun it is to say out loud. “Ribald.”

Ribaldry seemed abundant in prior centuries, from Chaucer to Rabelais to Balzac (apparently it helps to be French, although I don’t believe it’s a requirement), but has fallen out of favor in our modern times. Couldn’t we all use a little earthy humor, though? Some amusing rudeness? I think so.

Where have all the ribald gone? Long time passing…

Now, I don’t normally recycle what I’ve previously presented, but today’s the first of May, and this song serves as the unofficial anthem of spring. Also, we usually try to keep things PG-13 around here, but … anthem! And really, it’s only one word that’s problematic. It just so happens that the word gets repeated. A lot. Luckily, it’s a fun and light-hearted tune – like a Disney song for consenting adults.

The idea for Jonathan Coulton’s “First Of May” stemmed from a “dirty” schoolyard rhyme which itself derives from a far older sing-song from a previous century, which itself had origins in ancient pagan fertility rites on the eve of Beltane, the Celtic name for the month of May. To wit:

“Hurray, hurray! the first of May!
Hedgerow tupping begins today!”

and:

“Welcome to the month wherein
Hedgerow tupping doth begin…

Tupping, of course, is another way of saying, to put it scientifically, “bumping molecules,” or “smashing atoms.”

So here, in an encore presentation, is Jonathan Coulton’s ribald riff on the theme of “Afternoon Delight” – with a winking nod to Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – from his 2003 album Smoking Monkey. Enjoy the centuries-old tradition.

May the First be with you.

3 thoughts on “Song Of The Week: “First Of May” by Jonathan Coulton

  1. Don’t think I’ve ever heard this song before. The f-bombs paired with the very innocuous vibe is an amusing combination. Learned all kinds of fun new tidbits from this one post! And consider my vocabulary expanded. Bibbidi bobbidi boo, ribaldry reverie rendezvous. The clock struck May for tupping in hay, ribaldry reverie rendezvous.

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