Sarah Brightman - Gloomy Sunday

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

Sunday is gloomy
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided
To end it all
Soon there'll be flowers and prayers
That are said I know
But 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 blessing you
Gloomy Sunday

I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep
In the deep of my heart dear
Darling I hope
That my dream never haunted you
My heart is telling you
How much I wanted you
Gloomy Sunday
Gloomy Sunday

music: Reszõ Seress
lyrics: László Jávor / Sam M. Lewis

From: La Luna (2000).
and from: La Luna: non-European version (2000)

Source of the lyrics: the CD-booklet, except for the last six lines: they are missing from the booklet, but sung by Sarah.

Below follow:
>   personal remarks on the song
>   English translation of the original Hungarian
>   legends associated with the song
===> Information on and reviews of a German/Hungarion movie about and with the song, called Ein Lied von Lieve und Tod -- Gloomy Sunday (="A song about love and death") is on a separate page.  

Personal remarks

I like this song very much! It is a little jazzy, and Sarah's singing and the music create the right mood for the song.
One thing is very strange, though. The mood changes between the second and the third stanza, because she wakes up and realises that the gloomy first two stanzas were nothing but a dream and the third stanza is then more chearful. This change of mood is strangely rather abrupt: the pause is less than a second -- Sarah has barely enough time to catch her breath.
I would have expected the change in mood between stanzas two and three to be build up a little more gradually, in five to ten seconds or so. After all, waking up and realising that it was a dream takes time.

Hazan suggested that the last stanza could still be part of the dream: the singer has lost her lover, continues her mourning in her dream, and as a reaction to the pain wishes it was all but a dream: "I find you asleep in the deep of my heart", not next to her in bed.
I do not think this is what is meant here. The change of mood, the use of the words "I was only dreaming / I wake" and also the lines "I hope / that my dream never haunted you" make me think that the singer has woken up (though the whole text is written in the past tense).
Besides, the third stanza is not part of the original song; see legends associated with the song below.

If you read the translation of the original (which is given below), the whole mood of the song appears a more pessimistic and sad one, expressing also disappointment in people's behaviour. The whole picture emanating from the original is thus very different from the version Sarah sings: a sad dream from which the singer awakes, finding the world not too bad after all.


English translation of the original

The original song was written in 1933 by two Hungarians, Rezsõ Seress (music) and László Jávor (lyrics), and consisted of the first two stanza only -- the last stanza was added later, also first in Hungarian, as Zoé Orosz from Hungary pointed out to me. Zoé added:
Actually, the second part of the song in Hungarian is not so reassuring at all. It is if at all possible, much gloomier than the first two stanzas, almost apocalyptic. It looks like the pessimism of the song was too much for the translators and they made their translation a happier one.
In that case one might argue that the translator has done a bad job and 'ruined' the song, or in other words: a translator has to maintain the original spirit and intentions of the song. On the other hand, a translator may also be more than just a translator and based on the original create a new song. Perhaps the Sam Lewis mentioned in the credits is responsible for this.
Zoé Orosz also made a translation into English of the original Hungarian song, adding:
It looks like Jávor wrote the first part and Seress the second. It is very-very gloomy. It seems to refer to the horrors of a war at the end. I'm glad that there's an English version that makes it less terrible. To be honest, I don't think it was ruined at all. We are a very pessimistic people, so maybe it was good after all that it was not made popular in its original form.
The war Zoé mentions could be the First World War, as the song originates from the 1930s. But since the second part of the song is even more gloomy than the first part, the second part may have been added after the Second World War.
For more on the background of the song, see also my Web page with information on and reviews of the German/Hungarion movie Ein Lied von Lieve und Tod -- Gloomy Sunday.

This is Zoé's translation of the original Hungarian:

On a sad Sunday with a hundred white flowers,
I was waiting for you my dearest with a prayer.
A Sunday morning, chasing after my dreams,
The carriage of my sorrow returned to me without you.
It is since then that my Sundays have been forever sad ...

Sad Sunday

This last Sunday, my darling please come to me
There'll be a priest, a coffin, a catafalque and a winding-sheet.
There'll be flowers for you, flowers and a coffin,
Under the blossoming trees it will be my last journey.
My eyes will be open, so that I could see you for a last time,
Don't be afraid of my eyes, I'll be blessing you in your death ...

The last Sunday.

It is autumn and the leaves are falling,
All love has died on earth.
The wind is weeping with sorrowful tears,
My heart will never hope for a new spring again.
My tears and my sorrows are all in vain,
People are heartless, greedy and wicked ...

Love has died!

The world has come to its end, hope has ceased to have a meaning
Cities are being wiped out,
Meadows are colored red with human blood,
There are dead people on the streets everywhere.
I will say another quiet prayer:
People are sinners, Lord, they make mistakes ...

The world has ended!


Legends associated with the song

Geoffrey Kidd and Hazan informed me independently that there is a "lengend" associated with Gloomy Sunday in that the song, which was written in Hungary in the 1930s (see above), was banned because it seemed to have led to many suicides ....
Giru wrote that the third stanza given above was included after the press banned the song, as a way of made it smoother, and that the song was first recorded (with that last stanza "i hope that my dreams never haunted you") by Billie Holliday. Giru recommends to listen to the version of Diamanda Galas ... It has lyrics different from Sarah's (from the orginal given above?), and its the most depressing version of the song.
This would explain the different mood of the last stanza: preventing people from committing suicide by letting them know it was all but a dream. And perhaps because of that intention it had to follow the second stanza almost immediately, rather than after a more convincing pause of a few seconds.
For some background info on the suicides-legend, see the "Gloomy Sunday" page at the Urban Legends Reference Pages.

See also my Web page with information on and reviews of a German/Hungarion movie about and with the song, called Ein Lied von Lieve und Tod -- Gloomy Sunday (="A song about love and death").

Chris Rouleau wrote me that the song "Gloomy Sunday" also features in the soundtrack of the first Blair Witch movie -- seems fitting for a spooky movie like that.

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created: 30 April 2000
last modified: 16 December 2006