Lerner & Loewe: The Lusty Month of May

Written by Kate Bullock

Writer, performer, and administrator

May 4, 2020

In the immortal words of Alan Jay Lerner, “Tra la, it’s May, the lusty Month of May” as we start to see the gradual advance into warmer temperatures and those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Right after I open my eyes on May 1st and announce “Rabbit Rabbit” to the waiting physically distant world (anyone else?!), I have to cue up this tune. ‘Camelot’ has long been one of my favorite shows with Lerner’s lyrics that trip off the tongue and Frederick Loewe’s gorgeous, lush orchestrations that make me hanker for the days of the Golden Age 50-piece orchestras. (If you haven’t recently watched the Finale Ultimo from the film version with Richard Harris, I would highly recommend watching and subsequently weeping. Theatre therapy is real and potent stuff, folks.)

With sparkling vocals by the inimitable Queen, Dame Julie Andrews (or Vanessa Redgrave – pick your poison), it perfectly evokes that feeling of gaiety that has perhaps been lacking in our daily lives just this instant. All the more reason then to turn this on and romp ‘round the May Pole before our third mid-morning snack! 

Word nerd that I am, I have always been bowled over by the ease with which Lerner manages to meld highly intelligent rhyme scheme with that devilish cheek that is on parade in this fun, frivolous song. Just below are the lyrics for you to glimpse and crack a smile over. Because, after all, “It’s May, it’s May, the month of great dismay when all the world is brimming with fun, wholesome or un…” 

Thanks for indulging me with a whole week of sharing the music that bolsters my spirits, fills my heart, and makes this time of physical distancing just ever so slightly more bearable. I’ll see you back here tomorrow for a little bit more Golden and a whole lot more Berlin. 

Author’s note: As of today, NYFOS begins streaming of our first ever Virtual Gala, featuring performances from this past season and live performances from our friends and NYFOS alums all over the world. A donation of any amount will grant you access to this exclusive curated performance through the end of the month. Join us, won’t you please!

Tra la, it’s May, the lusty month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear
It’s May, it’s May, that gorgeous holiday
When every maiden prays that her lad will be a cad
It’s mad, it’s gay, a libelous display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes
Everyone breaks
Everyone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May

Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does its scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating everywhere?
Don’t you know it’s that dear forbidden fruit

Tra la la la la, that dear forbidden fruit, tra la la la la
Tra la la la la, tra la, tra la, tra la la la la la la la la la
It’s May, the lusty month of May
That darling month when everyone throws self-control away
It’s time to do a wretched thing or two
And try to make each precious day, one you’ll always rue
It’s May, it’s May, the month of yes you may
The time for every frivolous whim, proper or im-
It’s wild, it’s gay, a blot in every way
The birds and bees with all of their vast amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast

The lusty month of may
Tra la, it’s May, the lusty month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear
It’s May, it’s May, the month of great dismay
When all the world is brimming with fun, wholesome or un-
It’s mad, it’s gay, a libelous display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes
Everyone breaks
Everyone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May

Kate Bullock

Kate Bullock is a writer, performer, and administrator based in New York City. She holds a Bachelor’s from the Crane School of Music where she studied Music Business and Vocal Performance. During her tenure in New York, she has worked in support of the New York Festival of Song, Kurt Weill Foundation, Étude Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Carnegie Hall, and serves as the concert artist liaison at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, in addition to her singing with Trinity Wall Street.

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