It is unknown why this particular song entitled Suicide is Painless is so popular amongst the Jazz community, but it has been redone a number of times across all genres, but the jazz community has had a particular fondness to the song despite it’s dark message and morbid title. To those under the age of 35, this song might be synonymous with late night channel surfing or staying up past their bedtime, but the composition of Johnny Mandell is one that has proven to be a timeless tune. Some of these versions were credited as the M*A*S*H theme song, while others credited as their true title. Roy Ayers did a version of this song on his 1974 album Change Up the Groove, that can be heard below along with all of the other versions, including Ahmad Jamal, Billy Evans, Cal Tjader and others. Check out all 7 jazz versions, including the original, and vote on which you like best.

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Here are the Lyrics to Suicide is Painless, which according to Wikipedia, was written by Mike Altman the son of the film’s producer Robert Altman, who was only 14 at the time.

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…


That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it’s too late, and…


The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.


The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
and to another give my seat
for that’s the only painless feat.


The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…


A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
‘is it to be or not to be’
and I replied ‘oh why ask me?’

‘Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
…and you can do the same thing if you choose.

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