|Black Rose by Ketmara|
On this date in 1966, the first "emo" rock song hit the #1 position of the Billboard chart, Paint It, Black by the Rolling Stones.
Yeah, I know that there was a long history of "teen tragedy" songs that came before Paint It, Black, such as Last Kiss by Wayne Cochran or Teen Angel by Mark Dinning. However, I'd argue that, although these are "songs of sorrow", they don't have the requisite nihilistic angst that properly marks a song as being of the "emo" subgenre.
In the "teen tragedy" subgenre, the singer is helpless and passive under the weight of despair. In the "emo" subgenre, the singer becomes an active participant in their grief. For the "teen tragedian" the world is painted black. For the "emo", they want to paint it black.
Here's a vid of Paint It, Black:
Now compare it with Ray Peterson's Tell Laura I Love Her:
The Pearl Jam version of Last Kiss picks up a bit more of an edgy mood than the original, but it still remains a song of passive sorrow:
Here's a list of "teen tragedy" songs.
Here's the Rolling Stones' Wikipedia page.
And here's a link to Ketmara's page at deviantART.