Whenever a singer or a band releases a smash hit, there's always speculation as to the inspiration behind the lyrics. And when a group includes an actual name in their song, many listeners do a deep dive to figure out who it could be about.
While the identity of John in Taylor Swift's "Dear John" was easy to determine, as was who the subject of Robin Thicke's album "Paula" was, some muses are a bit more mysterious.
The rock band Plain White T's released the love song "Hey There Delilah" in 2006, and it became a massive hit the following year. With the tender lyrics about the woman featured in the song, Delilah, many wondered if she was based on a real person.
Who is "Hey There Delilah" about? The story behind the song is intense, and the band even brought the real Delilah to the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Who is "Hey There Delilah" about?
While the name "Delilah" is ideal for a song because of its emphasis on vowels, the Plain White T's track is based on Illinois native Delilah DiCrescenzo. Tom Higgenson, the singer and guitarist of Plain White T's, never dated Delilah, but he was inspired to write the song in 2006 after the pair met through a mutual friend earlier that year.
Though the lyrics of the track imply that the singer had a long-distance relationship with a woman named Delilah, that wasn't the case.
In fact, Delilah was actually in a relationship with someone else when she met the singer, and she was never interested in Tom romantically.
The lyric, "Hey there Delilah / What's it like in New York City," came to be because Delilah was studying at Columbia University at the time when she met Tom. She was a distance runner at the Ivy League university, and she majored in sociology.
He later told her that he had written the song with the intention of showing his romantic interest.
Though the circumstances surrounding the song are a bit creepier than listeners may have originally suspected, Delilah attended the 2008 Grammy Awards with the band when they were nominated for Song of the Year (they lost to Amy Winehouse's "Rehab").
Where is Delilah now?
It's been 14 years since "Hey There Delilah" was written, but the song is still beloved by many (and others remember it for being a radio staple in the summer of 2007). It's even found a new audience on TikTok, as #HeyThereDelilah has more than 46.1 million views.
The real Delilah is now 37 years old, and long gone are the days when Tom Higgenson was wondering about how she was doing in New York City (he's since become a father).
Per her LinkedIn, Delilah works in customer marketing at the aerospace and aviation company Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut. It also looks like she got married to a man named Will Boylan-Pett, who is also a Columbia University alum, in August of 2018.
It does not appear as if Delilah is active on social media (at least publicly), so it's unclear what else she's been up to since her name was played over and over again on the radio.
In August of 2018, Tom joined forces with Primary Wave and Lively McCabe Entertainment to develop a series inspired by the song. Any further updates on the series have not been publicized.