Gloomy Sunday is a song composed by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezső Seress during the Great Depression. The song was so gloomy, so depressing that it took some time for Seress to find a publisher. One publisher reportedly said of the song:
It is not that the song is sad, there is a sort of terrible compelling despair about it. I don’t think it would do anyone any good to hear a song like that.
Seress finally located a publisher and the song was published in 1933.
The original lyrics were titled The World is Ending. Poet László Jávor wrote his own lyrics titled Sad Sunday. The lyrics are about a person who wants to commit suicide after their lover’s death.
The song with the lyrics was recorded in 1936. Billie Holiday released a version in 1941, popularizing the song in the English speaking world.
Urban legends say that the song has been associated with numerous suicides, including in the United States and Hungary. Some radio stations even refuse to play it. Even the BBC banned Billie Holiday’s version of the song, because they feared it would lower morale during wartime.
In January 1968, Seress, the composer of the song, committed suicide.
Here are two versions for your listening pleasure.