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Gloomy Sunday

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104802.  Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:01 am Reply with quote

Further to the discussion of the song "Gloomy Sunday" in the death edition of QI (BBC4 20/10/06), what is possibly the most interesting story regarding this song was omitted. I think the story was related by Primo Levi in his book "If This is a Man" which was about his experiences in Auschwitz though I don't have a copy to hand to check.

Anyhoo, in Auschwitz, the German officers would recruit prisoners who had musical ability to form a band and entertain them in their mess. One of the entertainers was a lady singer who had the song "Gloomy Sunday" in her repertoire. When she sang it she noticed that one of the officers would seem particulary morose so she made a point of including the song whenever he was in the audience. With each performance, the officer appeared to sink further and further into depression and eventually he killed himself.

104804.  Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:12 am Reply with quote

Nice story djgordy, certainly news to me and very QI. Hard to tell whether or not that was a happy ending though.

104839.  Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:45 am Reply with quote

Great story, djg.

I've got "If This Is A Man" somewhere, might try and rootle about in it...

104842.  Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:52 am Reply with quote

It seems the song was notorious for this, and there was a movie made about it:

Gloomy Sunday (1999) 3 stars Foreign / Drama, N/R, 114 min.

Director: Rolf Schubel Starring: Joachim Krol, Erika Marozsan, Stefano Dionisi, Ben Becker, Rolf Becker, Andras Balint, Geza Boros, Ilse Zielstorff, Julia Zsolnai, Sebastian Koch, Urike Grote, Ferenc Bacs

Set in Budapest during the 1930s, piano player Andras (Ben Becker) works for restaurant owner Laszlo (Joachim Krol) and becomes part of a romantic triangle involving Laszlo and the restaurant's hostess, Ilona (Erika Marozsan). Andras plays the haunting song, "Gloomy Sunday," and the legend begins that people who hear the tune kill themselves. Behind the legend is the fact that the suicides are taking place in a world where the Nazi death machine is rolling across Hungary.

Cummerbund for Geography
105011.  Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:57 am Reply with quote

I still find Seasons In The Sun extremely depressing...

Even more so when Westlife covered it. The original was bad enough.

105025.  Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:23 am Reply with quote

Cummerbund for Geography wrote:
I still find Seasons In The Sun extremely depressing...

"Seasons in the Sun" is supposed to be depressing as it is about a dying man who is saying goodbye to the people he has known throughout his life. It was written by the very famous Belgian Jacks.... ermm I mean Jacques Brel who wrote many songs of a somewhat morose nature. Many of his songs have been recorded by British artists such as David Bowie and particularly Scott Walker. Obviously, Scott Walker is a cool genius and Terry Jacks isn't......

The translation of "Seasons in the Sun" used by Terry Jacques.... ermm I mean Jacks... was by the poet and singer Rod McKuen. McKuen used to be immensely popular though he seems to be largely forgotten these days. McKuen's most famous song is probably "Love's Been Good To Me" which is quite similar to "Seasons in the Sun" as it seems to be about someone near the end of his life looking back to former loves. Frank Sinatra made the best known recording.

"I have been a rover
I have walked alone
Hiked a hundred highways
Never found a home
Still in all I'm happy
The reason is, you see
Once in a while along the way
Love's been good to me".
I think I may have been harsh when I said "Seasons in the Sun" was "supposed to be depressing". Both "Seasons" and "Love's Been Good to Me" would be better described as melancholic as the narrative in both is about people who have had good and happy lives but are reaching the end of them, rather than being depressing songs about people whose lives have a legacy of bitterness and regret.

105068.  Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:03 am Reply with quote

Cummerbund for Geography wrote:
I still find Seasons In The Sun extremely depressing...

Even more so when Westlife covered it. The original was bad enough.

You think that's depressing? How about Iris (I think) by the Goo-Goo Dolls covered by Ronan Keating? I lost the will to live just listening to the advert.

108103.  Sat Oct 28, 2006 4:28 am Reply with quote

Scott Walker is American, isn't he?


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