"Strange Fruit" is a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday, who first sang and recorded it in 1939. Written by the teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem, it exposed American racism, particularly the lynching...

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.



Lyrics submitted by Beltane

"Strange Fruit" as written by Dwayne P./pearl Wiggins

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Strange Fruit song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment:This was one of the first songs that protested or even dealt with racism in america. Its about the lynchings in the south. I think that was extremely brave of her given racism was still very much apart of the world. One of the reasons she's my hero
    Beltaneon March 02, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:I have enough reseach on this song to write a short volume. It was wrote by a white man who wanted to give it to Billie but did not want to offend her. He finally did muster up the courage & the rest is history.

    Cra4ford, I think your history teacher might have been mistaking. My understanding is Billie did NOT "hate it" she was truly thankful for the song. But it took a lot out of her and you are correct "she cried afterwards". Yes she did. I have read many articles that she cried a lot after singing it (I cry just hearing it).

    Q Magazine, named "Strange Fruit" one of 10 songs that actually changed the world.


    Sly
    SLYcraftson May 04, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:I guess I am beleaguering a topic that was already beautifully addressed by SLYcrafts but this is such an important song and Billie Holiday's strength and bravery are greatly misrepresented when a History teacher claims that she did not want to do it and was pressured into doing it. The opposite happened. People were trying to prevent her. Her own label refused to record it Some clubs would not allow her to sing it. There were a few times when people in the audience physically attacked her. So it was through her own indomitable will that the song ever came out for us to hear it

    This article briefly describes the history of Strange Fruit You'll understand why Billie Holiday cried after singing it:

    ladyday.net/stuf/…
    eunice13on February 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:i'm not usually affected by songs, but this one affected me. i'm not even american...
    when she sings: "Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze", you can't help but picturing the scene. this song really hurts.
    velvetsisteron March 26, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:The song began as a poem written by a jewish school teacher Abel Meeropol. Inspired by a photograph of the lynching of Thomas
    Shipp and Abraham Smith. He put it to music himself because no one else had the "balls" to do it at the time...Billie of course had the "balls" to perform it, even when she was forbidden to do it..........The song of course is heart breaking and inspires so many different feelings depending on the race and/or experiences of the listener. God, I love Billie Holiday and the paradox of strength and weakness she represented in both her personal and professional life. Rest in peace honey..
    wrdchkon March 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I first heard this song 3 days ago, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since then. I saw the photograph of Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith that inspired the lyrics, and it gave me chills. Why haven't I ever heard of this until now, as an 18 yr old who found it by chance? I think every person who goes through high school should be exposed to this poem. It can alter and has altered lives and history. It has helped me to put things into perspective, and I know that anytime I want a reality check, all I have to do is think of these lyrics. It's just so incredible and terrible at the same time. Brilliant.
    lovethemusic89on December 31, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:According to my history teacher...

    She absolutely hated this song--probably because of its subject matter. She never wanted to sing it, but because of pressure she always ended up doing just that, and cried afterwards.
    Cr4wfordon May 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:It's a sad, sad reality.
    finalxhouron June 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Wanna see her singing Strange Fruit?

    youtube.com/w/…
    orfragaon January 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:When I first heared this song I felt so bad... it really was a overwhelming moment, I felt mad and sad and disgusted how the things were- and maybe still are in some ways
    traneon March 06, 2006   Link

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