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Hungarian Suicide Song-Myth, Advert or Truth

Literally, a killer song with haunting melody- heard in Oscar wining movie like Schindler's List to Cartoon like The Simpsons  and a movie by its own name notoriously associated with hundreds of suicide. Let's dive into the story of the Hungarian suicide song-Gloomy Sunday (Szomorú vasárnap) said to have a power to bring wave of suicide throught the world 
The self taught pianist and composer, Rezső Seress, wrote Gloomy Sunday in 1933 on a Stormy-Cloudy day with grey sky with heavy rain. That day Seress had a severe quarrel with his girlfriend. He played his piano and came the melancholic melody, which he named Gloomy Sunday, hence a masterpiece was created out of bad mood. Lyrics to the song was given by László Jávor.

His sheet of music was rejected by one music publisher along, and returned back with a note stapled to it stating: "Gloomy Sunday has a weird but highly depressing melody and rhythm, and we are sorry to say that we cannot use it." Later it was accepted, published and circulated by other music publisher

It was covered and re-recorded by several great musicians including some famous name like Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, and Sarah McLachlan.Sam Lewis created its English translation, which was first recorded by Hal Kemp and Orchestra with Bob Allen on vocals (1936).

With the starting of 1940s and the turmoil of World War the suicide song was lost somewhere. Later this song was revived by Bill Holiday who was a perfect match for the words of sorrow and grief; her tone squeezed the essence of the lyrics.
The popularity of Gloomy Sunday increased greatly through its interpretation by Billie Holiday (1941). To provide a optimistic tone third stanza was added to this version, giving a nightmare twist to the song; however suicide reputation still prevailed.

Tag of a Suicidal song
As soon as it came into attention of people this song earned a reputation as a 'suicide song'.Within the week of being published Gloomy Sunday became a best seller, Seress contacted his ex-lover and made plans for a reunion ,he learned from the police that his sweetheart had poisoned herself. By her side was a piece of paper containing two words: "Gloomy Sunday".
And the suicidal trend didn't stop there- it crossed borders and this song became a phenomena around the globe.
Two people who shot themselves while listening to a gypsy band playing the tune of the song. After a month Gloomy Sunday was printed a young man in Berlin requested a band to play it, and after the number was performed, the man went home and blasted himself in the head with a revolver after complaining to relatives that he felt severely depressed by the melody of a new song which he couldn't get out of his head. In Berlin, a young shopkeeper hung herself. Beneath her feet lay a copy of Gloomy Sunday

In New York, a pretty typist gassed herself leaving a request that "Gloomy Sunday" should be played at her funeral.Weeks later, another New Yorker, aged 82, jumped to his death from the window of his seventh-story apartment after playing the 'deadly' song on his piano

Perhaps the strongest of all was the case of an errand boy in Rome, who, having heard a beggar humming the tune, parked his cycle, walked over to the beggar, gave him all his money, and then sought his death in the waters beneath a nearby bridge. In contrast to this, a 14 year old girl drowned herself while clutching a copy of "The Suicide Song".
A woman in North London who had been playing a 78 recording of Gloomy Sunday at full volume was found woman dead in her chair from an overdose of barbiturates.
Finally, it is not surprising to note that Rezső Seress, the composer of Gloomy Sunday, committed suicide in 1968 jumping from his flat.
As the months went by, disturbing deaths connected to Gloomy Sunday persuaded the chiefs at the BBC to ban song so it was banned from the play lists of major radio broadcasters around the world. The B.B.C. considered it too depressing for the airwaves
Despite all such bans, Gloomy Sunday continued to be recorded and sold.

Psychology of Gloomy Sunday as Suicide song
When questioned as to just what he had in mind when he wrote the song, Seress replied-"I stand in the midst of this deadly success as an accused man. This fatal fame hurts me. I cried all of the disappointments of my heart into this song, and it seems that others with feelings like mine have found their own hurt in it."

Personally, I would say Gloomy Sunday, whose original lyrics contained the hardship of the people in the world war was successful to entered the concept of death to the world war victims Hungarians and other people in the world. So when the lyrics resonated with their story of political and economic hardship- people choose the way of self destruction.

Other versions of the song, like that of Bill Holiday served a purpose of entering the idea of death to the broken hearted love birds.Therefore, I would say linking this masterpiece with suicide is very false and misleading. The song in itself is not suicidal, it is not like you play the song on your radio and you feel like killing yourself..Where is the knife... Damn I need gun lol. That won't happen; it only affects people; whose story links to the song. In that perspective someone commits suicide listening to love song then will that be a suicide song??

I can't say for any person suffering from love tragedy or too much hardship in life; but this song won't work for normal people like us. And some people do tell this suicide thing was made so as to advertise the song,if that was the case it has been a very successful advertisement in history of mankind.

And if you never heard the song I have got link below both the original and Bill Holiday version.

I tell you this is just a song and I have listened it ..SO NO WORRIES ;)

Bill Holiday Version                                                                    

    Original Hungarian Version

Original Piano Version by Rezso Seress


Anonymous said...

oh man ..I DON'T WANT TO DIE ...am gonna stop listening to bill holiday songs ...all of them ..lol:P:P
i do agree with u ...a normal person wouldn't commit a suicide just because he/she listened to some sad song..anyhow i bet connecting suicide with the song made them earn lots of money ;)...its a fatal fame exactly like he said :)
i guess committing was out of bunch of mournful feelings that fulfill the heart and mind because of remembering life's shit (as i call )or hardships :):)
anyhow ...when a man decide to commit a suicide then that person reached the top of disappointing and sorrow ..and a song is not enough to make a person feel so ...i guess that song is like a box of matches and people who committed suicide are the gas station :):)
keep it up little anis mansour hehe

Sandy said...

Ya no song can be that sad or touching that it can make you commit a suicide. If the person is fade of of extreme life shit that won't even need to hear any song hehe ...If this song was to make people commit suicide then I would have been dead 20 years ago ;) Thanks for reading and commenting whoever you are :P Oh wait I am Sherlock Holmes you can't hide 3:-)

Mushfique said...

Now this is a must-hear song! But i guess you did a bad thing mentioning about this song :P..what if I, after hearing this have the will to commit suicide (God Forbid) :p or influence others :P

(just fooling around)
great post!!

Sandy said...

Everyone is safe from the song ..No-one is wasting time to read such nonsense hehe :) Thanks for visit ..Your blog is nice.