Who wrote Delilah? Did Tom Jones write song, who is Barry Mason, what’s been said about controversial lyrics

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The Welsh Rugby Union has banned its choirs from playing Tom Jones hit Delilah because of its ‘problematic and upsetting’ lyrics

The iconic Tom Jones hit Delilah has come under fire in recent years for its controversial lyrics. The latest development in the row over the song comes ahead of the Six Nations with the Welsh Rugby Union taking action on amid claims of a toxic culture within the organisation.

The song, about a man who kills his cheating partner, caused controversy the same year that it was released, but for entirely different reasons. When Jones was due to perform the song on the Ed Sullivan Show, the censors demanded the line ‘at break of day when the man drove away’ be changed to ‘at break of day when the man was across the way’ to avoid the implication that Delilah had spent the night with him.

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Jones said: “Murdering Delilah was fine by them, but not the fact that he’d stayed with her all night.” Now, 55 years, later it is the murderous tone of the song that has placed it front and centre in a row over misogyny in rugby.

Who wrote Delilah?

Delilah is closely associated with Tom Jones, and he performed the original version of the song released in February 1968, but he didn’t actually write the lyrics himself.

The lyrics to Delilah were written by songwriter Barry Mason, with the music written by Les Reed. Mason, who died in 2021, aged 85, also collaborated with Reed on The Last Waltz, and Winter World of Love performed by Engelbert Humperdinck.

Tom Jones track Delilah has been banned by the Welsh Rugby UnionTom Jones track Delilah has been banned by the Welsh Rugby Union
Tom Jones track Delilah has been banned by the Welsh Rugby Union | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Mason’s ex-wife took him to court in 1983, claiming that she had written half the lyrics to Delilah, as well as several of his other songs - Mason settled out of court in 1986.

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Delilah charted at number two in the UK, and took the number one spot in several countries around the world including Ireland, France, West Germany, and South Africa. It continues to be one of Jones’ best known songs more than half a century after it was first recorded.

Has the song Delilah been banned?

Wales rugby choirs have been banned from singing Delilah at matches - the ban was announced ahead of the Six Nations which begins on Saturday 4 February with Wales playing Ireland.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) ordered the 1968 hit be removed from its Principality Stadium choirs’ song list. A Principality Stadium spokesperson said: “Delilah will not feature on the playlist for choirs for rugby internationals at Principality Stadium.

Wales supporters singing in the stadium at the 2022 Six Nations Wales supporters singing in the stadium at the 2022 Six Nations
Wales supporters singing in the stadium at the 2022 Six Nations | Getty Images

“The WRU removed the song from its half-time entertainment and music playlist during international matches in 2015. Guest choirs have also more recently been requested not to feature the song during their pre-match performances and throughout games.

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“The WRU condemns domestic violence of any kind. We have previously sought advice from subject matter experts on the issue of censoring the song and we are respectfully aware that it is problematic and upsetting to some supporters because of its subject matter.”

The WRU had previously faced allegations of promoting a toxic culture and misogyny in a BBC documentary, Welsh Rugby Under the Spotlight, which aired last month. WRU chief executive Steve Phillips resigned shortly after the documentary aired.

Why has Delilah been banned at Welsh rugby matches?

The song has been banned because of its ‘problematic’ subject matter - specifically the notion of violence against women.

Delilah is about a man who passes girlfriend’s home and looking through the window sees her making love to another man. He then waits outside the home through the night and confronts her the next morning. The girlfriend laughs at him and he stabs her to death and then waits for the police to arrest him.

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The entire song has come under fire for its general tone, which some see as promoting violence. The most controversial part of the song are the lines: “I crossed the street to her house and she opened the door / She stood there laughing / I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more.”

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