It was memorable song when released in the spring of ’68. It’s become a karaoke classic since. In chart trivia terms it was yet another failed attempt by Tom Jones to recapture the success of his first two releases. Alas, unlike ‘It’s Not Unusual’ and ‘The Green Green Grass of Home’, ‘Delilah’ did not make it to the coveted Number 1 spot (prevented from doing so by the Beatles’ ‘Lady Madonna’) and it was to be another 41 years before Wales’ most famous singing export had chart-topping success.
For me, I first heard the song as a ten-year-old at my Nan’s house in Halifax in the early 1980s. She owned a cassette tape of the singer’s greatest hits, and was listening to it whilst preparing a Sunday dinner. Such was my enjoyment of ‘Delilah’ in particular that I kept on playing it over and over again. To reward me for my newfound enchantment with Tom’s back catalogue, my Nan bought me the same cassette tape as one of my Christmas presents a few weeks later. Never once have I heard that song in the many years since and been inclined to carry out an act of violence towards a woman. Like the vast majority of song lyrics, they are there to be enjoyed as an accompaniment to great music, not as a behavioural template for males and females embroiled in a lovers’ tiff.
Unfortunately, the Welsh Rugby Union revealed last week that the song would no longer be performed by choirs at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-64488231). According to the BBC:
‘The song has caused controversy, with lyrics depicting the murder of a woman by her jealous partner. A stadium spokesman said it was “respectfully aware that it is problematic”.’
Problematic? Problematic for whom? Certainly not for the millions who’ve heard and liked it since its release 55 years ago! Not for the legions of fans of Welsh Rugby who’ve been singing it for as long as anyone can remember. No, this is ‘problematic’ only for those who wish to control our behaviour through inculcating our thought processes with their own ideological rigidity; and it is a depressing fact of modern life that these control freaks grow greater in number with each passing year. The causative relationship between song lyrics and their role in domestic violence is contested at best. As distasteful as I find many of the lines in rap songs (with numerous references to violence and rape), I’d be the first to argue that rap music’s most obvious crime against humanity is its lack of mellifluous content and talented wording, NOT its supposed influence on human behaviour.
I am getting increasingly sick and tired of being told that songs, classic comedy series and much-loved stand-up comedians of yesteryear are ‘inappropriate’ for modern audiences. How many times are comedy greats such as ‘Porridge’ or ‘Only Fools and Horses’ prefaced by some ridiculous warning notice advising viewers that ‘this programme contains outdated language’? Really? I’d wager that, away from the ossified, politically correct confines of metropolitan life, many use exactly the same terminology and vernacular as they’ve always done – especially in traditional working class communities. The difference is they are capable of marrying such terminology to the virtues of nuance – the ability to convey to others whether their use of ‘inappropriate language’ is done in jest, as a sign of affection, as an indictment of something, or as malicious intent. Take this scene from the Guy Ritchie movie ‘The Gentlemen’ as an excellent example (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1WzR0eke_8). It’s a pity those anxious to control our thoughts lack this very basic ability to distinguish the criticality of context.
Or it could be they don’t lack anything at all. Perhaps all of this is a deliberate attempt to impact our everyday lives by scaring us into the submission of silence, or surrendering many of the very principles that make freedom of expression an integral part of our human condition. At one time, those who believed the key to changing our perspectives on many social, philosophical and cultural phenomena was to change that way we thought did so by permitting a range of different standpoints on a given topic and evaluating the quality of each argument. No more it seems. Now that desire to change our thought processes is governed by their determination to ensure we’ve given only the ‘acceptable’ viewpoint (i.e theirs). It’s the motive behind the ‘cancel culture’ in many of our institutions; was key to brainwashing the general population to consent to their own imprisonment during the COVID pandemic; instrumental in the reluctance of many people to air their concerns on the massive and widespread demographic changes in their respective countries; and firmly at the root of such nonsensical decisions as banning ‘Delilah’ at the home of Welsh rugby, to name but a few.
As with my response to what I saw was the hysterical lunacy behind most, if not all, of the COVID restrictions, I will not be browbeaten into silence by those who hold views utterly at variance with my own. I’ll continue to look at examples of so-called ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘misogynistic’, ‘ageist’ or ‘homophobic’ words in popular culture purely in the context of which they’re uttered. I will not listen to absurd health warnings about the content of such humorous gems as ‘Dad’s Army’ or ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’. Nor will I stand by and permit those who have nothing good to say about either this country or its culture free reign to spread their propaganda without challenge. Like the Welsh fans in Cardiff last Saturday afternoon, I’ll continue to sing Tom Jones’ famous song about the revenge of a jilted lover whenever the mood takes me. If I feel like watching the classic episodes of Alf Garnett, I’ll do so (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbfoSX2YRA8&t=109s). If I want to call out the immorality of men who think they can self-identify as a woman and subsequently avail of their facilities, I’ll do so. Understand? Clear? I suspect there are millions of you out there with comparable feelings of frustration. Forgive us, Delilah, we just cannot take any more!