Tonight you look so pretty
Yes, you do
Times Square can't shine
As bright as you
Read full Lyrics
Bustling Times Square
Sometimes lightning strikes in the unlikeliest of times and places. And so it was for Plain White T’s with their #1 hit "Hey There, Delilah" in 2007. The Plain White T’s were a virtually unknown alternative rock entity navigating their way through the underground club scene in Chicago before this simple song, written in D major – and featuring only one of the band’s five members, Tom Higgenson, strumming an acoustic guitar – was nominated for a Grammy Award.
All of this begs the question: Who is Delilah?
The object of the singer’s affections was inspired by a chance meeting in 2002 between Higgenson and long distance runner Delilah DiCrescenzo. While the two were never in a relationship, Higgenson took poetic license while crafting the lyrics to the heartfelt ballad about a long distance couple. DiCrescenzo competed nationally as a steeplechase runner and even tried out for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. She attended Columbia University in New York City during the time she first met the front man for the Plain White T’s.
New Year's Eve in Times Square, c 2007
The character Higgenson created for the singer is involved in a long distance relationship with an obviously fictitious version of the real-life Delilah. Between the overly poetic diction (Oh, what you do to me/the world will never be the same, and you’re to blame/I’d walk to you if I had no other way) and Higgenson’s vocal stylings (a blend of tenor belting and emo whining), the tune became a smash hit success for women between the ages of 14-40 who apparently connected to the pining love of a moody singer-songwriter. As a fan of the Plain White T’s myself, I’m almost offended that none of their other songs – most of which are better and feature the entire band – have made a dent in the airwaves. I guess if you want to be successful in the entertainment industry, whether that be books, music, or films, write something that teenage girls will eat up in droves.
According to the lyrics, the narrator is on tour with his guitar while Delilah is living full time in New York City. He mentions Times Square’s inability to shine as brightly as she does. So let’s discuss the most important area of the most important city on the face of the earth.
Times Square is a diverse section of midtown Manhattan full of the wondrous and the insane, performers and spectators, overplanned and spontaneous, streetscapes and undergrounds and high rise penthouses. It’s a lot like an onion, containing layers upon layers that can be peeled away by the curious visitor where business, art, and life smash together. It’s the busiest and most popular theater district in the world as well as an outdoor laboratory for marketing and advertising (complete with dazzling billboards, electric, and now digital signage from one side of the avenue to the other).
The Naked Cowboy, commonly found in Times Square
But it wasn’t always this way. Before the New York Times
moved in, this area of the city wasn’t even called Times Square. In 1903, it was referred to as Longacre Square, after Long Acre in London, where the carriage trade was centered. Over the past century, the square grew as the city did, morphing into the hub of culture that it remains today. The iconic images of the busy street full of cars, busy buildings full of advertisements, and busy sidewalks full of pedestrians have been around for 50 of those years. Here are a few final facts about Times Square:
- In 2011, the entire outdoor area became ‘smoke-free’ when the city extended the indoor smoking ban into all public areas.
- 360,000 visitors cross the street per day, which equals over 131 million every year (greater than all the Disney theme parks combined).
- The New Year’s Eve ball drop has occurred annually since 1907 (before being hosted by Dick Clark, if you can believe it) and draws in about 1 million revelers each time.
- Times Square is also known as The Crossroads of the World, The Center of the Universe, and The Great White Way.
Suffice it to say, there’s a lot happening in Times Square. I doubt anybody other than Tom Higgenson actually agrees that the subject of his song, or any single person for that matter, could possibly shine brighter than the "Center of the Universe." Let’s be real. Either way, it makes for a cute ditty about a girl and the emo singer who loves her.
~ Justin Novelli
Hey There Delilah Songfacts
Browse all Songplaces