PG stared out at the gray sky. He thought that the fourth sunday in february might be the most depressing day of the year. The ever cheerful blogger had an idea for a repost. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The people on a Baltimore streetcar seem to be happy.
Billie Holiday had a hit with”Gloomy Sunday”in 1941. The legend is that people would listen to the song, and kill themselves. As a result, the song was banned from the radio. Or was it?
“Gloomy Sunday” was written in 1933 by Rezső Seress. Additional lyrics were later written by László Jávor. It became known as the “Hungarian Suicide Song”, and was reportedly banned in Hungary. An English translation (which is said to not do justice to the original Hungarian) was rendered.
The song has a melancholy sound, even as an instrumental. The story is about a person…it is not gender specific…who decides to join a loved one who has died. A third verse was added, to the english version, where the singer says it was all a dream.
The song became popular in the United States. And the suicide stories started to spread, along with rumors that the song had been banned from the radio. (It was indeed banned by the BBC.) There are indications that these rumors were part of a publicity campaign.
The urban legend busters snopes. calls the story “undetermined”. Legends like this get a life of their own. A grieving person hearing this song on a dreary Sunday is not going to be uplifted. One thing is known for sure…the original composer did take his own life. Rezső Seress jumped off a tall building in Budapest in 1968. The legend is he had never had another hit song after writing “Gloomy Sunday”.