Back from the holiday. Back to work. And back to the blog. I’ll pick up where I left off, with Sunday songs. And what could be more appropriate than the saddest of them all? Billie Holiday’s iconic version of Gloomy Sunday is haunting as they come. It’s not just because the song is about wanting to kill yourself in order to join your dead lover. Lyrically it is as dark as they come, with the singer lamenting “the shadows I live with are numberless“and proclaiming that “death is no dream for in death I’m caressing you.” The quality of the recording adds to the discomfort, sounding like it’s being beamed from some faraway radio station or maybe even the afterlife. The instrumentation recalls the soundtrack to a nightmarish Fleischer Brothers cartoon, creepy and quiet. Then finally there are the despondent vocals of Lady Day. Evocative and anguished, Holiday captures emotions that most singers could never imagine. The whole thing combines to make one of the most beautifully disquieting songs ever recorded.
As a bonus, I’ve included Venetian Snares’ version of the song, Ongyilkos Vasarnap. It’s a completely brilliant breakcore reworking of Rezső Seress’s original piece and also utilizes a sample of Holiday’s vocal. If you love Holiday’s version, you love this too.