Strange fruit was one of the defining songs of the 1930s era.

Despite Billie Holiday's initial reluctance to sing it out of fear of damaging her career and fear of retaliation, it not only became one of the songs that defined her as an artist, but her biggest selling record, a permanent fixture in her live performances, was listed in Songs of the Century and won her a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978.

The song was originally written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish high school teacher in the Bronx, and was inspired by the following photograph, taken by Lawrence Beitler, which depicted the lynching of two young African American men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith.

More detailed and quite fascinating historical information is located in the following source.


Strange Fruit sung by Billie Holiday and written by Abel Meeropol

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.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

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Replies to This Discussion

Wow, those are some powerful lyrics.
Very! Imagine singing that in the 1930s! That was one courageous lady :-)


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