Delilah (Tom Jones song)

Single by Tom Jones
from the album Delilah
B-side "Smile" (Mills)
Released February 1968
Format 7"
Recorded 1968
Genre Pop, schlager
Length 3:20
Label Decca
Writer(s) Les Reed – music
Barry Mason and Sylvan Whittingham Mason – lyrics
Producer(s) Peter Sullivan
Tom Jones singles chronology
"I'm Coming Home"
"Help Yourself"

"Delilah" is a murder ballad recorded by Welsh singer Tom Jones in 1968. The lyrics were written by Barry Mason and Sylvan Whittingham Mason, to 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]


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 performance

Chart (1968) Peak
German Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 2
Norwegian Singles Chart 2
Austrian Top 40 3
Canadian RPM Top Singles 5
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 15
Finnish Singles Charts 1


Although the song is a soulful rock-and-roll number, set in triple metre, the underlying genre may be considered to be a "Power Ballad" in the British Ballad tradition.

Jones narrates the song as a betrayed lover who spies his 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 becomes temporarily insane. Waiting until her paramour leaves, at the break of day, he knocks on the door, which she opens, only to laugh in his face. He stabs her to death. Realising this murderous act, the betrayed lover begs her forgiveness before the police come to break down the door and take him away.

Jones' version features a big-band accompaniment set to a flamenco rhythm. The pitch of the final note is A4.

Cover versions

The song has also been covered many times 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" (however 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/artist Sam Sorono (1950–2008) on his Sings Tom Jones' Greatest Hits LP album with EMI Records. 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 4CD box The Hannover Sessions with Sweet. The Finnish rock band Leningrad Cowboys also performed a version of this song at 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/Korean version of the song on an episode on Immortal Song 2 in 2015.[5]

Akane Liv (a.k.a. Liv Moon) will cover "Delilah" from the album "Scream As A Woman-II.

Miscellaneous uses


Welsh rugby fans have sung "Delilah" as an unofficial anthem since at least as early as the 1970s, so much so that it was referred to in the lyrics of one of the verses of Max Boyce's "Hymns and Arias": "We sang 'Cwm Rhondda' and 'Deliliah', damn they sounded both the same". Tom Jones performed it before Wales's historic rugby victory over England at Wembley Stadium in 1999. The Welsh Rugby Union now plays the song in Millennium Stadium before matches; the words to the song are shown on the big screens and the crowd sings along.[6]

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

Prior to the 2016 Six Nations Championship rugby tournament, Welsh MP Chris Bryant requested that the song not be sung by Welsh rugby fans as the lyrics glorifies violence towards women.[7]

Association Football

Supporters of Stoke City have adopted "Delilah" as their club anthem since 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 have been adapted for the terraces, but the essence of the song remains the same.[8]


The song featured in the 1990 film Edward Scissorhands.[9] In the 2005 film Romance and Cigarettes, the original recording plays on a jukebox while Christopher Walken sings along and pantomimes 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.


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

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

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.

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


According to Philip Norman's biography of Elton John, the future pop superstar provided background vocals on this song.


  1. Lister, David, Pop ballads bite back in lyrical fashion, The Independent, 28 May 1994
  2. Swiss charts web-site
  4. Billboard web-site
  5. 불후의명곡-마마무, 안무에도 흔들림 없는 화성 '딜라일라'. August 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  6. "WHY, WHY, WHY BAN DELILAH?; Tom Hit Is Sexist". The Mirror. April 2003. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  7. "Delilah? We just can't take rugby fans singing it any more, says MP". The Guardian. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  8. "Stoke City fans back Tom Jones's Delilah to top charts". BBC. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  9. Burton, Tim (1990), Edward Scissorhands, 20th Century Fox

External links

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