“Gloomy Sunday” is a song composed by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezső Seress and published in 1933, as “Vége a Világnak” (“End of the world”).
It became well known throughout much of the English-speaking world after the release of a version by Billie Holiday in 1941. Lewis’s lyrics referred to suicide, and the record label described it as the “Hungarian Suicide Song”. There is a recurring urban legend that claims that many people committed suicide with this song playing.
Press reports in the 1930s associated at least 19 suicides, both in Hungary and America, with “Gloomy Sunday”, but most of the deaths supposedly linked to it are difficult to verify. The urban legend appears to be, for the most part, simply an embellishment of the high number of Hungarian suicides that occurred in the decade when the song was composed due to other factors such as famine and poverty. No studies have drawn a clear link between the song and suicide.
The BBC banned Billie Holiday’s version of the song from being broadcast, as being detrimental to wartime morale, but allowed performances of instrumental versions. However, there is little evidence of any other radio bans; the BBC’s ban was lifted by 2002.
Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless
Dearest, the shadows I live with are numberless
Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thoughts of ever returning you
Wouldn’t they be angry if I thought of joining you?
Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there’ll be candles and prayers that are said I know
But let them not weep, let them know that I’m glad to go
Death is no dream, for in death I’m caressin’ you
With the last breath of my soul, I’ll be blessin’ you
Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep in the deep of my heart here
Darling I hope that my dream never haunted you
My heart is tellin’ you how much I wanted you