(SR) # Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit

Artist # Billie Holiday

Year # 1939

Genre # Jazz,Blues

“Strange Fruit” was originally written by Abel Meeropol, a high-school teacher and writer from the Bronx. Possibly, Meeropol wrote the poem after having seen Lawrence Beitler’s photograph of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith lynching in Marion, Indiana. It was first published as a poem under Abel’s pseudonym Lewis Allan.

In early 1939 Meeropol asked Billie Holiday to sing the lyrics that would soon impact Jim Crow’s America, exposing racism and the lynching mob-execution. After the release of the song as a B-side of “Fine and Mellow” at Commodore Records- a small company that agreed after the refusal of Columbia Records –  and Billie Holiday’s performances  at Cafe Society, New York’s first integrated nightclub, “Strange Fruit” emerged as a symbol of political awareness. Notwithstanding the virtual banning of the song from the radio and the witch-hunting political practices in 1940s-1950s America, “Strange Fruit” effectively became one of the first songs to express the civil rights movement.

Read: Strange Fruit, Billie Holiday, Café Society, and an early cry for civil rights,  David Margolick, Running Press  (2000)

See: Strange Fruit, Joel Katz (2002)

Southern trees bear strange fruit

Blood on the leaves

Blood at the root

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth

The scent of magnolia sweet and fresh

Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck for the rain to gather for the wind to suck for the sun to rot for the tree to drop

Here is a strange and bitter crop

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