There have been several urban legends regarding the song over the years, mostly involving it being allegedly connected with various numbers of suicides, and radio networks reacting by purportedly banning the song. However, most of these claims are unsubstantiated.
In 1968, Rezső Seress, the original composer, jumped to his death from his apartment.
OK, lots of versions are after the jump. Listen…if you dare!
Now, there are like a million recorded versions of this song, so I’m only going to embed some of them (the most notable ones up at YouTube).
1935: the inimitable Paul Robeson:
1936: Taro Shoji:
1937: Mercedes Simone:
1940: Artie Shaw with Pauline Byrne:
1941: Billie Holiday’s classic version (which adds the revisionist “it was all just a dream!” third verse):
1958: Mel Tormé:
1959: Eila Pellinen:
1961: Sarah Vaughan:
1958: Ricky Nelson:
1968: Genesis (a US electric-folk band, not Peter Gabriel &co.—a nice version):
1969: Ray Charles:
1972: Viktor Klimenko:
1979: Lydia Lunch:
1981: Elvis Costello and the Attractions:
1982: The Associates:
1986: Christian Death:
1988: Serge Gainsbourg (in anticipation of Antichrist):
1992: Diamanda Galás’ most excellent rendition:
1992: Sinéad O’Connor:
1994: Anton LaVey (!) with Magistra Blanche Barton, High Priestess of the Church of Satan:
1995: Gitane Demone:
1996: Sarah McLachlan (in case you really want to kill yourself):
1998: Marianne Faithfull:
2000: Kronos Quartet:
2000: Sarah Brightman:
And…a Korean Hip Hop version by one MC Sniper (I believe it’s from 2007?):
Finally, after so much Hungarian suicide, here’s a chaser: