It seems strange to think that a song that Tyler Childers never even really properly recorded or released would go on to become an American country music standard. But such is the fate for Tyler’s song “Jersey Giant,” which despite the lack of a proper studio release from Childers himself now has numerous interpretations from a host of artists, and has become a certified hit.
Tyler Childers has a whole host of songs that you can hear folks singing and covering from bar bands to karaoke nights. “Feathered Indians,” “Whitehouse Road,” “Lady May” and others are some of the favorites. But it’s “Jersey Giant” that has become his most successful song covered by others. Similar to Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” and Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” “Jersey Giant” has taken on a life of its own.
Much was made when Elle King first recorded and released the song in early November of 2022 after receiving Tyler’s blessing. If Tyler Childers wasn’t going to release a proper studio version of the song, somebody should. And no matter what you might think of Elle King, it’s hard to say she didn’t do “Jersey Giant” justice. But that is just the start of the song’s legacy.
Elle King’s version has 11 million spins on Spotify alone. That’s not too shabby at all, and you might think this is the most definitive take on the song. But it isn’t. Evan Honer released his own version of “Jersey Giant” about a month after Elle King on on December 16th, 2022, with Julia DiGrazia guesting on the recording.
Who is Evan Honer? He’s a singer and songwriter from Surprise, Arizona who graduated from California Baptist University as a swimmer and diver. He’s created a little buzz for some of his other songs such as a the enjoyable “idk shit about cars.” But it’s his rendition of “Jersey Giant” that really put him on the map. His take on the track has garnered a rather incredible 22 million spins just on Spotify. That’s twice as many as Elle King.
But it doesn’t stop there. You might think with two explosive versions of the song, the market would be saturated. But about three weeks after Evan Honer released his version, the Ryan Adams-influenced singer/songwriter Josiah Leming from Tennessee released a version of the song on January 11th, 2023 with his band called Josiah and the Bonnevilles. That version has 8.5 million streams itself.
A few weeks after that in early February 2023, a guy named Devin Hames out of Missouri recorded an acoustic version of the song. Despite otherwise being virtually unknown, it has nearly 2 million spins itself.
A band called June Shine also has a version of “Jersey Giant” that features fiddle high in the mix and clocks in at over six minutes. They recorded their version all the way back in June of 2021, making them one of the first. Like Evan Honer and Devin Hames, “Jersey Giant” is by far the most popular song in the June Shine repertoire.
We could keep going from there, with about two dozen other versions of the song released commercially, not to mention all the artists out there playing “Jersey Giant” live in clubs and honky tonks across the United States and beyond.
“Jersey Giant” was written by Tyler Childers some 11 years ago, and though he never did a proper recording or release of the song, he did upload a scratch track version for free onto SoundCloud, which is were a lot of the folks that have covered it probably found it.
“Jersey Giant” is a unique composition for Childers since it features a bridge within the verse/chorus structure. According to Tyler, he was tired of the song shortly after he wrote it. Since it references a woman that is not his sweet Lady May, it just may not fit as something Childers wants to sing about at the moment.
But even though Childers doesn’t seem to want to sing the song or record his own version, plenty of others are picking up the slack, and making sure a great song doesn’t go unsung.