Track of the Week: “Hey There Delilah,” by the Plain White T’s

Track of the WeekIf I didn’t know any better, I’d swear that 2007’s “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s was a song from the sixties. The song has a folk-ish vibe and the name Delilah reminds me of paisley and protest. A few details give the song’s true age away however, most notably the modern recording quality with its super-compressed sound. The absence of the hiss that was present on just about every true sixties album is a dead giveaway.

Nevertheless, this song is a throwback to folk songs of the sixties. Think Simon and Garfunkel without the vocal harmonies. Although Tom Higgenson’s lyrics do not share the same craftsmanship as those found in most Simon and Garfunkel tunes, they are still very catchy.

This song is unusual because the verse follows a Iiii (DF♯m) repeating chord progression. This chord progression is not used very often because the I and iii chords have two notes in common. In this case the D chord has the notes D, F♯, and A, and the F♯m chord has the notes F♯, A and C♯. The homogeneity of the two chords fail to create a sense of motion and thus are rarely used in verses. In fact, the two chords, if played simultaneously, would actually sound like a Dmaj7 chord, which is a very stable and rooted chord.

Ultimately, the song works and that’s what matters most. It is a testament to the strength of the lyrics and melody. They move the song along despite the sedentary chord progression.

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4 responses to “Track of the Week: “Hey There Delilah,” by the Plain White T’s

  1. A very sweet song — I’d never paid much attention to the lyrics before.

    I always find it interesting when you can pick out patterns and explain why they work, why they make the listener feel certain things.

  2. Nice post. Good call on Simon & Garfunkel, I think it’s very reminiscent of “Sound of Silence”, especially the end of each verse. But take away the harmony, and the craftsmanship, and it doesn’t cut it for me! I think it could be a good song, but the lead singer makes me feel like I’m listening to a 17 year old in his bedroom, not the vibe I’m looking for 🙂

    • I don’t think you’re The Plain White Ts’ target demographic. I think they’re singing to 16 year old girls. The song is kind of childish, I agree, but still worthy of a listen.

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