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Friday, Apr 01 2016 | 04:54
Image: 1602314 It is the world’s deadliest song, a musical composition so lethal that merely to hear it hummed
may induce suicidal tendencies. It is “Gloomy Sunday”, public menace of such potentially
epidemic proportions the BBC was compelled to ban it for decades. Indeed, if contemporary
news reports and eyewitness accounts are to be believed, no other song comes close to it for
sheer morbidity.
“Helter Skelter”? The Manson murders were horrific, to be sure, but the role of the Beatles’
song in those tragic deaths was incidental at best, and in the end, seven lives were claimed,
the number of fragile souls, meanwhile, to have succumbed to the unrelenting lugubriousness
of “Gloomy Sunday” may number in the hundreds if not the thousands.
“Better By You, Better Than Me”? When played backwards, a US lawsuit alleged, this 1990
Judas Priest song prompts listeners to “do it” and commit suicide. But how deadly can a
song be which must be listened to backwards? “Gloomy Sunday’s” impact is direct and
instantaneous. One need only recall the story of the Roman shop boy who, hearing a beggar
hum it, handed the man his money and jumped from the nearest bridge. Hungarian pianist
and composer Reszo Seress wrote the original music and lyrics for Szomorú Vasárnap –
Gloomy Sunday – in 1933, while heartbroken over the break-up of a romance. Though local
publishers initially rejected the song as too despairing, a new version with less forlorn lyrics
by poet Laszlo Javor became an instant hit – and began claiming innocent lives almost
The song’s first victim, it is said, was the woman for whom it was penned. In the wake of
its initial success, Seress’ ex-lover poisoned herself, leaving a suicide note of just two words:
“Gloomy Sunday.” Hers was but the beginning of a wave of “Gloomy Sunday” suicides that
ravaged Budapest in the 1930s. According to a US newspaper report from the time, “Budapest
police have branded the song ‘Gloomy Sunday’ public menace No. 1 and have asked all
musicians and orchestras to cooperate in suppressing it, dispatches said Today.”
No one was immune, the article claimed. “Men, women and children are among the victims.
Two people shot themselves while gypsies played the melancholy notes on violins. Some
killed themselves while listening to it on gramophone records in their homes. Two housemaids
cut their employers’ linens and paintings and then killed themselves after hearing the song
drifting up into the servant‘s hall from dinner parties.”
Seress was never prosecuted for the havoc his song unleashed (though fate may have caught
up with him in 1968, when he leapt to his own death), but he and Javor alone can hardly be
held responsible for “Gloomy Sunday’s” death toll. Like a plague, the song has spread, passed
along by some of the most reckless and reprobate “artists” of our times.
Paul Robeson introduced the English version in 1935. Billie Holiday immortalised it in 1941.
Björk, Ray Charles, Marianne Faithfull, Serge Gainsbourg, Diamanda Galas, Pyotr Leshchenko,
Kronos Quartett – this list of infamy goes on and on. And now we can add to it the
ultimate act of music industry callousness and irresponsibility – the release by Piranha
Records of a collection of 10 new versions of “Gloomy Sunday” from around the world,
plus the Billie Holiday masterpiece and the very Hungarian original for your digitally
remastered listening pleasure.
Go ahead, listen to it if you must. But don’t say you weren’t warned. And should you be
one of the fortunate ones to survive this ordeal, have the decency and good sense not
to recommend it to others. Piranha Records must not be rewarded for their cynicism
and betrayal of the public trust. Above all else, they must be discouraged from releasing
“Gloomy Sunday vol. II”, which our sources say is already in the works.

01 Vocal Sampling Gloomy Sunday
02 Wazimbo feat. Kakana Domingo Sombrio
03 Matuto Gloomy Sunday
04 Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco Triste Domingo Instr
05 Kayah Czarna Niedziela
06 GOG Feat. Pianola Travessia
07 Glenda Lopez Gloomy Sunday
08 Chango Spasiuk Triste Domingo Instr
09 Bambarabanda Triste Domingo
10 Cimbalomduó Szomorú Vasárnap Instr
11 Billie Hoaliday Gloomy Sunday 1941
12 Pál Kalmár Szomorú Vasárnap 1934

Selling Points
• worth telling unique story about the song
• 10 new versions of the welll known song Gloomy Sunday
• call for Proposals for new song versions from the Piranha Arts/WOMEX network
• variety of genres from a capella, hip-hop, instrumental, latin to pop
• artist from all over the world - Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, Cuba, Hungary,
Mozambique, Poland and USA
• two remastered original versions from Billie Holiday and Pál Kalmár included
• famous participating artists with a wide reach of audience
• same-titled movie Gloomy Sunday - A Song of Love and Death (1999)
• part of an established CD series from Piranha Noir Available from 13.05.2016
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