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Delilah (Tom Jones song)

"Delilah" is a song recorded by Welsh singer Tom Jones in December, 1967. It was originally recorded by P. J. Proby in late November, 1967. Proby hated the song and refused to include it on his album Believe It Or Not, which was being compiled and recorded at the time. Proby's original version was released on the CD The Best Of The EMI Years ..., in 2008. The lyrics were written by Barry Mason, and the music by Les Reed, who also contributed the title and theme of the song. It earned Reed and Mason the 1968 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.[1]

Delilah - Tom Jones.jpg
Single by Tom Jones
from the album Delilah
B-side"Smile Your Blues Away"
ReleasedFebruary 1968
RecordedDecember 1967
StudioDecca Studios, London, England
GenrePop, murder ballad
LabelDecca (UK/Ireland)
Parrot (North America)
Songwriter(s)Les Reed
Barry Mason
Producer(s)Peter Sullivan
Tom Jones singles chronology
"I'm Coming Home"
"Help Yourself"


It reached No. 1 in the charts of several countries, including Germany and Switzerland.[2] It reached No 2 in the British charts in March 1968 and was the sixth-best selling single of that year.[3] The US Billboard chart records its highest position as 15.[4]


Chart (1968) Peak
Australia (Go-Set)[5] 3
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[6] 3
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[7] 1
Canada (RPM)[8] 5
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[9] 1
France (IFOP)[10] 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[11] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[12] 1
Italy (FIMI)[13] 2
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[14] 1
New Zealand (Listener)[15] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[16] 2
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[17] 1
Spain (AFYVE)[18] 1
Sweden (Kvällstoppen)[19] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[20] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[22] 15

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1968) Rank
Switzerland [23] 5
UK [24] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[25] 66

Music and lyricsEdit

Although the song is a soulful number set in triple metre, the underlying genre may be considered to be a power ballad in the British ballad tradition. Jones's version features a big-band accompaniment set to a flamenco rhythm. The pitch of the final note is A4.

Jones narrates the song from the point of view of someone who perceives himself as a betrayed lover and who spies a woman in silhouette on a window blind as she makes love to another man. Although he realises that she is no good for him, he calls her 'his'. At the break of day, armed with a knife and waiting until her paramour leaves, he knocks on the door, which she opens only to laugh in his face. He stabs her to death, then waits for the police come to break down the door and take him away.

Cover versionsEdit

The song has been covered by other artists, including a reggae cover by Horace Andy; , the goth rock band Inkubus Sukkubus on their album Wild, the Irish American punk band Flogging Molly on their live album Alive Behind the Green Door, the Italian operatic pop group Il Volo on their album Grande Amore, and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, whose single reached No. 7 in the UK chart in 1975. During the summer 1968 edition of the musical contest Cantagiro, the Italian singer Jimmy Fontana sang it with the title "La nostra favola" (the Italian translation changed the meaning of the original lyrics). Country Dick Montana recorded it with the Pleasure Barons as part of a Tom Jones medley on their live album Pleasure Barons Live in Las Vegas. It was covered in 1978 by Filipino singer and artist Sam Sorono (1950–2008) on his Sings Tom Jones' Greatest Hits LP album on EMI Records.[26] Austrian singer Peter Alexander recorded a German cover on his 1985 album Ein Abend Mit Dir. In 1988 "Delilah" was covered by Paddy Goes To Holyhead. This version can be found on the 4-CD box The Hannover Sessions with Sweet. The Finnish rock band Leningrad Cowboys also performed a version of this song on the live album Total Balalaika. American band Faith No More covered a snippet of the song during their Second Coming Tour.

Korean girl group Mamamoo performed an English and Korean version of the song on an episode on Immortal Song 2 in 2015.[27]

Miscellaneous usesEdit


Welsh rugby fans have sung "Delilah" as an unofficial anthem since at least as early as the 1970s; it was referred to in the lyrics of one of the verses of Max Boyce's "Hymns and Arias": "We sang 'Cwm Rhondda' and 'Delilah', damn they sounded both the same". Tom Jones performed it before Wales's rugby victory over England at Wembley Stadium in 1999. As of 2003, the Welsh Rugby Union played the song in Millennium Stadium before matches; the words to the song were shown on the big screens and the crowd sang along.[28]

In 2014, Dafydd Iwan, former president of the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, called for Welsh rugby supporters to stop singing "Delilah" at matches, asserting that the song "trivialise[s] the idea of murdering a woman". Jones dismissed Iwan's claims, stating: "I don’t think [singers] are really thinking about it … If it’s going to be taken literally, I think it takes the fun out of it."[29] Prior to the 2016 Six Nations Championship rugby tournament, Welsh MP Chris Bryant claimed that the song was about the murder of a prostitute, and requested that the song not be sung by Welsh rugby fans as the lyrics glorify violence towards women.[30] Co-writer Sylvan Whittingham rejected the claim, saying: "The reason there is more domestic violence after rugby matches is because men have been drinking... It's not anything to do with Delilah."[31]

Association FootballEdit

Supporters of Stoke City adopted "Delilah" as their club anthem in the 1990s. It was adopted by the fans after a supporter was heard singing it in a local pub. Some of the song's original lyrics were adapted for the football terraces,[32] but the essence of the song remained the same.[33]


The song featured in the 1990 film Edward Scissorhands.[34] In the 2005 film Romance and Cigarettes, the original recording plays on a jukebox while Christopher Walken sings along and mimes the action. In the 2013 film American Hustle, the song plays at a bar while Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner sing along. The chorus of the song was referenced in the movie Hercules Returns.[citation needed]


In the "Stage Fright" episode of Only Fools and Horses, Tony Angelino, the Singing Dustman, is seen performing the song during his performance at the Down by the Riverside Club.

In the "Homer the Heretic" episode of The Simpsons, Homer sings the chorus while showering, seemingly pleased with himself for getting out of going to church.[citation needed]

In the 14th episode of Raising Hope, "What Up, Cuz?", the song appears in a flashback showing the young Virginia Chance with her cousin Delilah.[citation needed]

In the first episode of the 2012 British comedy series Citizen Khan, Khan sings the song over the mosque speakers, much to the amusement of several fellow worshippers.[citation needed]


According to Philip Norman's 2001 biography of Elton John, John provided background vocals on this song.[citation needed]

On 4 June 2012 Jones performed the song for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert.[35]


  1. ^ Lister, David, Pop ballads bite back in lyrical fashion, The Independent, 28 May 1994
  2. ^ "Tom Jones - Delilah". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Chart Archive". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Billboard - Music Charts, News, Photos & Video". Billboard. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  5. ^
  6. ^ " – Tom Jones – Delilah" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  7. ^ " – Tom Jones – Delilah" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  10. ^
  11. ^ " – Tom Jones Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Tom Jones" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  15. ^
  16. ^ " – Tom Jones – Delilah". VG-lista.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ " – Tom Jones – Delilah". Swiss Singles Chart.
  21. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  22. ^ Cite error: The named reference uschart was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  23. ^ Swiss Year-End Charts, 1968
  24. ^ The 100 Best-Selling Singles of 1968
  25. ^
  26. ^ Discogs - Sam Sorono – Sing Tom Jones' Greatest Hits
  27. ^ 불후의명곡-마마무, 안무에도 흔들림 없는 화성 '딜라일라'. YouTube. August 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  28. ^ "WHY, WHY, WHY BAN DELILAH?; Tom Hit Is Sexist". The Mirror. April 2003. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  29. ^ Michaels, Sean. "Tom Jones says critics shouldn't take Delilah so literally". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  30. ^ "Delilah? We just can't take rugby fans singing it any more, says MP". The Guardian. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  31. ^ Victoria Ward, "Ex-wife of Delilah songwriter rubbishes claim that song incites violence", Daily Telegraph, 7 February 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2019
  32. ^ "Why Stoke fans sing 'Delilah'". FourFourTwo. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  33. ^ "Stoke City fans back Tom Jones's Delilah to top charts". BBC. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  34. ^ Burton, Tim (1990), Edward Scissorhands, 20th Century Fox
  35. ^ "BBC One - The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, The Diamond Jubilee Concert, Tom Jones performs a medley of hits". BBC. Retrieved 18 April 2019.

External linksEdit