Is there a real Delilah? Depends who you ask. The official writer credits for this song go to the English team of Les Reed and Barry Mason, whose other credits include "Here It Comes Again" by The Fortunes, "The Last Waltz
" by Engelbert Humperdinck, and "Kiss Me Goodbye" by Petula Clark (which also hit #15 US in 1968).
However, Sylvan Mason, who was married to Barry when these songs were written, claims that she is a co-writer. We verified her claims when she showed us court records from her divorce settlement that prove her authorship. She has also been vetted by major newspapers that acknowledge her as a co-writer, and Tom Jones mentions her as a lyricist on the track in his autobiography.
In 2001, Barry Mason told The UK newspaper The Sun
that he based on the song (minus the bloodshed) on a girl he met on vacation in Blackpool, England when he was 15. They had a summer fling, but when it came time for her to return home to Llandudno in North Wales, she told Barry that she had a boyfriend, and it was over between them. Mason is quoted in the paper as saying, "I was shattered. I never shook it off and I became sick with jealousy and a whole lot of pain. She had dark hair, brooding eyes and she was really feisty. If there's a typical Welsh girl, she was the one."
Mason said that her name was Delia, which was impossible to integrate into a song ("Why, why, why Delia" didn't work). A decade later, working with Reed, he got the idea to change her name to Delilah, and they wrote the famous song. "I just got more and more worked up with each line," he said. "I put my heart and soul into that song - and that's how 'Delilah' was born."The Sun
embarked on a search for the mystery woman who inspired the song, asking readers to call in if they knew Delia from Llandudno. They called off the search when they heard from Sylvan Mason, who explained that she co-wrote the song and that there was no Delia. According to Sylvan, Les Reed had already written the chorus "Why, why, why Delilah," and the lyric is based on the 1954 musical Carmen Jones
. "Les Reed's idea was to write a modern-day Samson and Delilah song but we got carried away and it ended up like Carmen Jones
," she told WalesOnline
, adding that the line "I was lost like a slave that no man could free" is a reference to Samson being tied up.
Sylvan says they composed the song in two hours, and just flowed out. "It became about the guy's lover," she said. "She had been with someone else all night. He was jealous, and had probably been drinking - and then he stabbed her."
Asked to respond, Barry Mason told The Sun, "I have no comment on the opinions of my former wife."