About the Song
“Delilah” was first released in 1967. It was recorded and made famous by Welsh singer Tom Jones in December that year. Earlier, the song was recorded by P. J. Proby in late November. However, Proby hated the song. Hence, he refused to include it on his album, Believe It Or Not. Eventually, Proby’s original version of the song was released in 2008 on the CD The Best Of The EMI Years.
The song was penned by songwriters Barry Mason and Sylvan Whittingham. On the other hand, Les Reed crafted the music behind the hit. Also, Reed contributed the title and the theme of the song. As a result of this work, Reed and Mason went on to earn the 1968 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
The song “Delilah” is a soulful rock-and-roll number, but with its underlying genre and musicality, it may be considered to be a power ballad in the British ballad tradition.
As Tom Jones sings the song, he narrates that it is about a betrayed lover who spies his woman cheating on him. The woman, whose name is Delilah, makes love with another man. Although he (the betrayed man) realizes that she is no good for him, he set up revenge. Waiting until the other man leaves, he slowly creeps in and knocks the door. Delilah then opens the door, and to his surprise, she only laughs at him. Not thinking twice, he stabs her to death. Realizing this murderous act, the betrayed lover begs for forgiveness in front of the cold body of Delilah.
Controversy Behind the Song’s Hidden Message
“Delilah” has sparked controversies because of its murderous theme. One particular controversy was when it was stopped to be played in a Welsh Rugby match in 2014. The song is one of Tom Jones best-known songs and one of the most popular to sing at football and rugby games.
The fist-pumping, chest-beating rhythm, it has been a Welsh rugby tradition to play “Delilah” as one of its anthems. However, calls have been raised for it to be played no more. Veteran folk singer and politician Dafydd Iwan says the ballad should be replaced because it tells the story of the brutal murder of a woman who’s cheated on her partner.
As written in several national newspapers, Iwan stated,
“It is a song about murder and it does tend to trivialize the idea of murdering a woman and it’s a pity these words now have been elevated to the status of a secondary national anthem.”
On the same view, The Welsh Rugby Union, as quoted by the South Wales Evening Post, reiterated that they “condemn violence against women,” and will “listen to any strong public debate on the issue of censoring the use of Delilah.”
Of Tom Jones and His Response to the Controversy
The 2014 Welsh Rugby Match controversy spread quickly like fire. With Dafydd Iwan’s thoughts of banning Jones’ “Delilah” on every rugby match, Tom Jones has something to say.
In response to Iwan’s statements as earlier said, Jones has rejected claims that his song Delilah “trivializes” violence against women, arguing that critics shouldn’t be taking the 46-year-old song so ‘literally.”
In an interview, Jones told BBC,
“It’s not a political statement. This woman us unfaithful to him and [the narrator] just loses it … It’s something that happens in life.”
How about you folks? What do you think about the song? Is it really time to stop it from playing it in rugby matches? Share us your thoughts in the comment section.
Watch this heart-pounding performance of Tom Jones of “Delilah” in 1973.
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