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Friday, May 7, 2010

Strange Fruit

By Lewis Allan

Sometimes called the defining song of the 20th century, this powerfully moving indictment of lynchings in the South was composed by Bronx schoolteacher Allan (real name Abel Meeropol), and brought to Billie Holiday, who would make it her signature song, despite protests from her record label, which refused to allow her to record it. She recorded it independently, closed almost every show with it, and was reported to break down almost every time.


Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body 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 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.

Recorded By:

Nina Simone
Tori Amos
Diana Ross
Cassandra Wilson
Lou Rawls

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