Strange Fruit (3:10)

Cover of The Jazz Ladies Volume 3

From The Jazz Ladies Volume 3 and 415 other releases

“Strange Fruit” is a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday. It condemned American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans that had occurred chiefly in the South but also in all regions of the United States. Holiday’s version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Author

“Strange Fruit” began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, about the lynching of two black men. He published under the pen name Lewis Allan. Meeropol and his wife adopted Robert and Michael, sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of espionage and executed by the United States.

Meeropol wrote “Strange Fruit” to express his horror at lynchings after seeing Lawrence Beitler’s photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. He published the poem in 1936 in The New York Teacher, a union magazine. Though Meeropol/Allan had often asked others (notably Earl Robinson) to set his poems to music, he set Strange Fruit to music himself. The song gained a certain success as a protest song in and around New York. Meeropol, his wife, and black vocalist Laura Duncan performed it at Madison Square Garden.

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Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics

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  • racheln92

    racism was a terrible thing. This is a good message, more the powerful sang by a black woman herself. Very true though.

    23 May 9:00am Reply
  • ctaberner

    Utterly shocking - but necessary to say it

    25 Apr 9:20pm Reply
  • pun_kin

    Beautiful, terrifying

    7 Apr 9:32pm Reply
  • YRUM

    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    21 Mar 10:21pm Reply
  • 3901

    The descriptions (especially "the sudden smell of burning flesh") are so vivid that my gag reflex churns.

    23 Feb 6:02am Reply
  • shoegazefan

    <3

    22 Feb 2:44am Reply
  • thevelvetjoel

    Last.fm used to play a better version of this song by her.

    6 Feb 3:17pm Reply
  • cegutierrez73

    impresionante...sin palabras

    3 Feb 10:29pm Reply
  • oldiesfanjohn

    Ethereal ... surreal ... real.

    31 Dec 2014 Reply
  • ffg

    Sadly apt, even in August 2014.

    19 Aug 2014 Reply
  • Phaeton

    Forgot to say Abel Meeropol also wrote the music. What a guy.

    10 Jun 2014 Reply
  • Phaeton

    As asked below somewhere- it was written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, a white Jewish high school teacher from the Bronx , sometime Communist, in 1937. Two years later someone, (unclear who) introduced the poem to Billie Holiday, who made it her own.

    10 Jun 2014 Reply
  • dust456

    super!

    3 Jun 2014 Reply
  • forgottenjazz

    reminds me of nina simone deep emotion authenic

    8 Feb 2014 Reply
  • ella67-67

    piękne,,,,,,,,,,,

    28 Jan 2014 Reply
  • shangoyal

    on most days, this is too heart-breaking to endure.

    14 Oct 2013 Reply
  • Storchel

    Speechless..

    31 Aug 2013 Reply
  • ashiwan

    chills

    31 Aug 2013 Reply
  • lihei

    Interesting lyrics

    16 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Zeropresence

    Hey, I have a great idea. Someone should take this song and remake it as an anthem about how much it sucks to see your ex at a Lakers game. That would be super.

    12 Jul 2013 Reply
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