USA TODAY International Edition

He didn’t get the girl, but the world got ‘Delilah’

PlainWhite T’s have a hit

- By BrianMansf­ield Special for USA TODAY

There’s something in the gentle strains of Hey There Delilah that’s so earnest, so honest, listenersw­onder: Is this PlainWhite T’s song about a real girl?

Delilah DiCrescenz­o, a 24-year-old Olympic hopeful, is fact. But the song’s relationsh­ip between a New York college student and a guitar player a thousand miles away, well, that part is completely­made up.

“There was never anything between us,” admits Tom Higgenson, 28, lead singer for the Chicago-based quintet. “It waskindof funny— kindof sad, actually. The story ofmy life.”

Released in 2005, Delilah has become a surprise summer hit, already spawning a profane radio-show parody. The song’s popularity live got it added to the band’s 2007 major-label debut album, Every Second Counts. It’s currently in the top five of Billboard’s Hot 100 and iTunes’ Top Songs charts. The band appears on MTV’s TRL today and has a recurring role in ABC Family’s upcoming Greek.

A friend introduced Higgenson to his muse five years ago.

“I thought shewas the most beautiful girl I had ever seen,” he says. “I told her, ‘I have a song about you already.’ Obviously, therewasno song. But I thought it was smooth.”

He waited a year to write the song. Now, it’s inescapabl­e.

“When I’m at the gym, it’s playing; when I’m at the pool, it’s playing,” says DiCrescenz­o, a Columbia University graduate and a steeplecha­se runner who’s training for next year’s Olympic trials. “Part ofmewants to screamat the top of my lungs that it’s about me. Another part ofmewants tocower andsay it’s not.”

DiCrescenz­o rebuffed his advances. “I wasn’t interested. I was dating somebody.” But the two kept in touch by email.

“Because I wasn’t with Delilah, I had to imagine, ‘If I was with this girl, what would Iwant to tell her?’ ” he says.

DiCrescenz­o considered Higgenson’s promises of a song so much playful flirting until he brought her a disc in late 2004.

“It was so beautifull­y written,” she says. “There was pressure to live up to this ideal. I didn’t knowhowto be polite but, you know, ditch him.”

Years later, Higgenson isOKwith that. “If we had lived happily ever after, then whatwouldm­y next song be about?” Listen to a clip of Hey There Delilah at life.usatoday.com.

 ?? By Autumn De Wilde, Hollywood Records ?? Unrequited love: Mike Retondo, left, Dave Tirio, TimLopez, love-struck Tom Higgenson and DeMar Hamilton are the sound behind Hey There Delilah.
By Autumn De Wilde, Hollywood Records Unrequited love: Mike Retondo, left, Dave Tirio, TimLopez, love-struck Tom Higgenson and DeMar Hamilton are the sound behind Hey There Delilah.

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