Strange Fruit

Album: The Billie Holiday Story (1939)
Play Video
  • Southern trees bear a 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 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 Writer/s: Lewis Allen
    Publisher: Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., MUSIC SALES CORPORATION
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 9

  • Kayo from Spring Hill, FlWhat does this song have to do with a citizenship class in thre UK? As Nona Hendry stated,"This was a powerful. ( and I add a shameful, tragic time) in our history, in our past and we need to move on from there." She was right. Move on. Dwelling on this issue which is in our far past serves no purpose except to further divide us. It's serving as excuse for further violence. Look to the future.
  • Irina from BerkeleyI think it's accurate to include Billie Holiday as co-writer. She transformed the melody of "Strange Fruit. Records indicate she did not resonate with the original melody written by Meeropol, and she and her accompanist re-wrote/transformed the melody. Also, when someone writes about something that is not part of their experience, and someone who is closer to that experience transforms that song, it's important the person transforming it be acknowledged as co-writer. I think it's important we respect and acknowledge Billie Holiday's co-writing of this powerful song, whether or not Meeropol acknowledged this.
  • Issy from West Yorkshire, UkI think this song is very inspirational. We are currently working on this song in citizenship at my school and I love it! May billie holiday rest in peace.
  • Mike from Kansas City, MoAbel Meeropol and Lewis Allan are the same. Lewis Allan was a pseudonym. Meeropol (as "Allan") wrote the poem first and later set it to music.

    Quote from:
    http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/strangefruit/film.html

    While many people assume that the song "Strange Fruit" was written by Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote the stark verse and brooding melody under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in the late 1930s.
  • Jim from Milwaukee, WiCassandra Wilson recorded a beautiful version of it on her "New Moon Daughter" album.
  • Garry from Anchorage, AkThe song hit #16 on the charts in July, 1939. Samuel Grafton of the New York Post had the best review of it. "This is about a phonograph record which has obsessed me for two days. It is called Strange Fruit and it will, even after the tenth hearing, make you blink and hold to your chair. Even now, as I think of it, the short hair on the back of my neck tightens and I want to hit somebody. I know who, too. If the anger of the exploited ever mounts high enough in the South, it now has its Marseillaise."
    Garry Gamber, Anchorage, AK
  • John C from Ft Lauderdale, FlJanetlee, many many artists have recorded versions of this song. PBS aired in Jan 2005 a documentary about how influential "Strange Fruit" has been toward civil rights movements since it's been written. Here is a link to their website about it: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/strangefruit/film.html
    During the closing credits, they gave a looooooong list of musicians who recorded it.
  • Angelica from La Puente, CaIn her autobiography Lady Sings the blues, Billie claims that the song was originally a poem written by Lewis Allen, and that she, Allen, and her accompanist Sonny White collaborated on the music (all this took place during her stint at Cafe Society). This book was written by a ghostwriter though, and many of the stories were exaggerated to sell copies and to sensationalize Billie's reputation. While it is true that Billie made many false claims herself, I thought i'd just clear this one up.
  • Janetlee from Panama City, FlThis song has always been hauntingly beautiful to me and Lady Day did it so well. I'd love to hear other versions if it has been recorded by any other artist.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Song Titles That Inspired Movies

Song Titles That Inspired MoviesSong Writing

Famous songs that lent their titles - and in some cases storylines - to movies.

Little Richard

Little RichardFact or Fiction

Was Long Tall Sally a cross-dresser? Did he really set his piano on fire? See if you know the real stories about one of rock's greatest innovators.

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")Song Writing

Director Mark Pellington on Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," and music videos he made for U2, Jon Bon Jovi and Imagine Dragons.

Yacht Rock!

Yacht Rock!Song Writing

A scholarly analysis of yacht rock favorites ("Steal Away," "Baker Street"...) with a member of the leading YR cover band.

Grateful Dead Characters

Grateful Dead CharactersMusic Quiz

Many unusual folks appear in Grateful Dead songs. Can you identify them?

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The Devil

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The DevilSong Writing

Just how much did these monsters of rock dabble in the occult?