We all have moments when we want to put on music and shut out the world. Especially, when we want to indulge in wallowing and let the sadness take all over. What if that song pushes you not to leave behind your sorrow but your life?
This is what made ‘Gloomy Sunday’ an infamous song. Composed by Rezso Seress, this song took birth in the fountain of sadness. As the story goes, he was a struggling songwriter whose girlfriend left him. He was utterly depressed and in order to channelize his grief, he created this song.
A song that was written to pacify personal grief actually touched the saddest chords of the listeners causing them to end their life. The tune of melancholy with equally glum lyrics by the composer’s friend Laszlo Javor became a hit as soon as it was released. Originally written in Hungarian, it was later translated. After this newfound success, the composer attempted to get back with his ex. However, in his despair, he discovered that she has committed suicide with a copy of the song’s sheet music lying nearby.
Just two years after the release, a recorded version by Pál Kálmar was related with hundreds of suicide in Hungary. Incidents of people plunging into their death after listening to this song started cropping up from different parts of the nation.
What caused this song to push people into taking their own lives? If you take a look at the socio-economic condition of the 1930s, then the connection between the song and the deaths would make much more sense. It was a time when the world was facing horrifying economic depression that left millions of people without a means of livelihood. The song acted as a trigger amplifying people’s misery and feeling of hopelessness. They connected with the sad melody and despair portrayed in the lyrics. With the ending words of the song saying ‘The world has ended!’ people decided to end their lives too.
‘Gloomy Sunday’ was banned in several countries including the Great Britain where it remained banned for about 60 years. Years later, it became a legend making people wonder if it could actually push any listener in the path of suicide.
That is far from the truth! Undoubtedly, the origin and reputation of the song make it gloomy. Also, the fact that composer eventually committed suicide adds on to the legend. However, we stay in a much better world presently in terms of social and economic conditions than the 1930s. Thus, it’s unlikely that you will want to kill yourself after listening to this song.
Here’s an original version of the song, later nicknamed as ‘Hungarian suicide song.’ Explore, if you wish to hear: