Friday, 19 December 2008

Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit

Billy Holiday giving it her all in one of the first and still most powerful anti-racism songs. For no other reason than I saw it again tonight on BBC 4's history of swing and it occurred to me that more people should be aware of it and that those who are aware should be reminded.

Here's the lyrics:

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.

Billie Holiday and Abel Meeropol (1937)


Dick Davies said...

never seen her sing it before - stunning (literally)

Ashley said...

Started a sermon with it once - but only iTunes. Seeing her is okay but I seem to concentrate on her voice less. The story of when and where she was allowed to sing it and then her defiance at singing it anyway was remarkable. The phrase 'Strange Fruit' (Billy Bragg's label for a while) is still one of the most strange and dreadful English phrases ever.