Of all the arts, music is the most emotional, the most visceral. We have an instinctual reaction to melodies that nothing else provides. Think of the last time you cried at the movies, do you think you would have without the soundtrack egging you on? Think about that scene in “The Shawshank Redemption” where they lock the guards out and the prisoners are listening to the opera record. The sound of something beautiful has such an incredible effect on them even when they don’t understand the words being sung How many times have you thought a song was awesome and you have no idea what they’re singing about? Anthony Kiedis from the Chili Peppers often just inserts nonsense because it sounds cool in the context. 90s Grunge bands were particularly egregious when it came to this. How about “Would?” by Alice in Chains, “Plush” by Stone Temple Pilots, or come on, really, every song by Nirvana.
Now, if music that you don’t understand can have that kind of emotional effect on you, when you add lyrics that you can discern, the end result is multiplied. Think about “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic or “Danny Boy” or basically all music written during the Civil War.
Now, a song can make you sad. But can a song make you so sad that you want to kill yourself? Well, kill yourself because you’re so sad, not just because you’re forced to listen to “Happy” or “Let It Go” one more agonizing time.
Growing up in the 1980s, it would be safe to assume that heavy metal would be the genre of music most associated with suicide. After all Ozzy and Judas Priest were both brought to court over accusations of placing secret messages in their music encouraging the listener to off themselves (something we will definitely tackle in a future podcast.)
If you would have told us that the song most associated with suicide wasn’t sung by hairy men in goatskins and leather screeching atop backwards-masked subliminal whispers of “kill yourself”, but just a really sad song written in Hungarian over 80 years ago and recorded by everyone from Billie Holiday to Sinead O’Connor to the extremely non heavy-metal Elvis Costello, we would have thought you were bananas.
But hey, that’s just what “Gloomy Sunday” is. Known as the “Hungarian Suicide Song”, it’s been rumored to have inspired people to kill themselves since before the Second World War.
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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 thought
Of ever returning you.
Would they be angry
If I thought of joining you?Gloomy Sunday.
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.
Let them not weep,
Let them know that I’m glad to go.
Death is no dream,
For in death I’m caressing you.
With the last breath of my soul,
I’ll be blessin’ you.
This is a Sunspot original track from our new podcast, See You On The Other Side.
Each episode features a paranormal topic and its influence on the entertainment industry, as well as original Sunspot songs.