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Strange Fruit

Song: Strange Fruit
Lyrics: Abel Meeropol (Lewis Allen) (3)

Music: Billie Holiday and Sonny White (4)
Year: 1937(4)
Genre: Blues
Country: USA

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swingin', In the southern breeze.
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of the magnolia sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
This song was originally posted on
Here is the fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, forthe trees, tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.


1 - American History in Song: Lyrics from 1900 to 1945, by Diane Holloway, p.347

2 - This song was based upon the August 7, 1930 lynching of two young black men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. See Lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, Wikipedia.

3 - Abel Meeropol, published under the combined names of his stillborn children. He likely used the pseudonym because he was a member fo the American Communist Party.

4 - The poem was written in 1937 and published in New York Teacher, and was put to music and recorded by Billie Holiday with the help of her accompanist Sonny White in 1939.

5 - PBS Independent Lens documentary Strange Fruit.