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DTStudy: Strange Fruit

DigiTrad:
STRANGE FRUIT


Related threads:
(origins) Origins of 'Strange Fruit' - article (39)
Lyr Add: The House I Live In (Meeropol/Robinson) (16)
Strange Fruit (40)
The story behind 'Strange Fruit' (10)
Chords Req: Strange Fruit (from Josh White) (14)
Lyr Req: You Can't Live on Love (Lewis Allan?) (8)
Abel Meerapol (Lewis Allan) (2)
Origin of Strange Fruit?? (12)
Req: MIDI Strange Fruit (3)
Best version of Strange Fruit (5)
Strange Fruit (7)
using Strange Fruit for non-profit (3)
Another Piece of Mindless Stupidity (42)
WFDU Traditions & Strange Fruit (4)


bill kennedy 25 Jul 02 - 02:02 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 25 Jul 02 - 05:16 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 25 Jul 02 - 05:37 PM
GUEST 15 Sep 02 - 04:24 PM
GUEST 15 Sep 02 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,guest 16 Sep 02 - 01:32 PM
Joe Offer 16 Sep 02 - 07:55 PM
Lin in Kansas 13 Oct 02 - 03:26 PM
sed 14 Oct 02 - 11:24 AM
Mark Clark 14 Oct 02 - 01:35 PM
sed 14 Oct 02 - 06:06 PM
katlaughing 26 Dec 02 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Q 26 Dec 02 - 07:29 PM
GUEST,Q 26 Dec 02 - 07:37 PM
Jeanie 27 Dec 02 - 08:21 AM
Mr Happy 13 Jul 08 - 07:45 AM
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Subject: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: bill kennedy
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 02:02 PM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

Search for other DTStudy threads


A lengthy and interesting article on Abel Meeropol appears in the Spring 2002 issue of American Music, University of Illinois. In addition to the biographical information, the many other songs and theatrical pieces he contributed to, is a good ddiscussion of his most famous song, 'Strange Fruit, and also, 'The House I live In' for which Earl Robinson wrote the music. A DT Study is more than warranted, I believe, given the previous threads that can be linked here, (I still don't know how, though, so Joe or someone can please blue clicky them and erase this paranthetical aside! Please?) and the fact that the DT STILL credits Billy Holiday, when she had nothing to do with the writing of the song. Way back in 1945, when Meerapol wrote a letter of protest about his authorship to PM magazine, an editor's note states: "Miss Holiday informs us that it was the interpretation (i.e. not the composition) of 'Strange Fruit's music that she worked on with Sonny White." In addition there is Barney Josephson's statement, the owner of Cafe Society whre Billie Holiday was appearing, stating: "On or about Feb. 10, 1939, Lewis Allen came to me with the manuscript of a song entitled 'Strange Frut' as possible material for presentatino at the Cafe. This was an original manuscript bearing his name as author of the words and composer of the music. He demonstrated the song for Billie Holiday in my presence and it was quite obvious that this was the first time she had ever seen or heard the song. 'Strange Fruit' was very much different from the usual songs she had been doing, and she seemed puzzled and reluctant to do it. Her claim to having had a share in the writing the music with Sonny White is completely false." Other info in the article discusses the songs relation to an earlier song collected in 'Negro Songs of Protest' entitled 'Sistern an' Brethren' that describes a lynching and may have in part inspired Meerapol's creation. Let's begin with the lyrics and CORRECT attribution:

Strange Fruit

by Lewis Allan (Abel Meerapol)

Southern trees bear a 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,
And 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 a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

links to previous threads should include the Guardian article copied by Joe Offer, a BS: Best Version of Strange Fruit, and others.


    For the sake of comparison, below are the lyrics as included in the Digital Tradition. Note the explanatory note at the bottom from Dick Greenhaus.
    -Joe Offer-

STRANGE FRUIT
(Billie Holiday and Lewis Allen)

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.
Oh----- Oh:-----

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
And 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 trees to drop
Oh, ----- here is a strange and bitter --- crop.
Oh, --- here is a strange and bitter crop.

Note: I've seen the attribution to Ms. Holiday alone, to Mr. Allen
alone and to both together. RG
@blues @political @death
filename[ STRANFRT
SW



PLEASE NOTE: Because of the volunteer nature of The Digital Tradition, it is difficult to ensure proper attribution and copyright information for every song included. Please assume that any song which lists a composer is copyrighted ©. You MUST aquire proper license before using these songs for ANY commercial purpose. If you have any additional information or corrections to the credit or copyright information included, please e-mail those additions or corrections to us (along with the song title as indexed) so that we can update the database as soon as possible. Thank You.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 05:16 PM

Previous Threads:

Thread 30958, Origins of 'Strange Fruit.' Long article from the Guardian, right in most particulars, about the song and its author, Abel Meeropol (aka Lewis Allen). Strange Fruit

Thread 8178, Strange Fruit. Lyrics, and name Billie Holliday in the heading. No mention of the composer, Abel Meeropol aka Lewis Allen. Lyrics

Thread 22476, about the book, "Strange Fruit," by David Margolik, and WDFU. Margolik


Thread 22914, 'Another Piece of Mindless Stupidity,' comments. Comments

Thread 24697, 'Stories about Genocide and Massacres,' includes lyrics to "George Jackson" and other songs. Mention of Strange Fruit. Genocide

Lyrics in DT need to be checked against original sheet music. Incorrect attribution includes name Billie Holliday. This version may be a revision.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 05:37 PM

Part of my note about thread 8178 got trimmed?? Joe Offer's posting of "Strange Fruit" occurs well down in the thread. A number of other song lyrics posted in this thread, "Songs about Capital Punishment include "Dead Man Walking Blues," "Electric Chair Blues," parts of "Tom Dula (Dooley)," Custer songs, etc., etc.: Punishment

I couldn't find Joe Offer's "best version" unless it is the one in this thread.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 04:24 PM

STRANGE FRUIT, 1937

For two years before Billie Holliday saw the song in 1939, Abel Meeropol's song, with the music, was performed in political circles, at meetings, benefits and house parties. See Peter Daniels' article "Strange Fruit: The Story of a Song," Feb. 2002, in the World Socialist Web Site. Strange Fruit

The poem was first published in "The New York Teacher," January, 1937; the publication of the Teachers Union.
Billie Holliday did not see the song until 1939, when Meeropol gave the song to Barney Josephson, owner of Cafe Society.

Billie Holliday, according to this and other authoritative accounts, did not contribute to the song, except perhaps for the superfluous "Oh--Oh" at the end of the first verse, and the repetition of the last line of the song (see DT).
Abel Meeropol's name does not appear in the DT, only the pseudonym Lewis Allen which he sometimes used.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 04:39 PM

A review of David Margolick's book, "Strange Fruit....," states that Meeropol's wife, Anne, and others, sang the song before Billie Holliday did.
The evidence seems clear that Meeropol was the sole author, and sometime before 1937, when the song was first published.
Strange Fruit


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 01:32 PM

David Margolick, 2000, "Strange Fruit," 144 pp., photos. Running Press. Hard cover.
The same in paperback, Ecco Press, 2001.
Both available from new and used book dealers. The full story of Abel Meeropol's song.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 07:55 PM

BMI (click) attributes the song to Lewis Allan. Hal Leonard's Ultimate Jazz Fakebook says words and music were by Lewis Allan - copyright 1940, by Edward B. Marks Music Company.

The lyrics in the Hal Leonard book are exactly the same as those Bill Kennedy posted above (the DT lyrics are the same, except that "bodies" is plural in one place, and the Billie Holiday "oh's" are added).

I don't know what's the convention in song attribution. My copy of Tom Sawyer says it was written by Mark Twain, not Samuel Clemens. I guess if I were publishing the lyrics in the Digital Tradition, I would attribute the song to Lewis Allan, with a footnote saying that Allan was a pseudonym for Abe Meeropol. I think I'd also make mention of the fact that it was Billie Holiday (note spelling) who made the song famous. If ever a performer gave life to a song, it was Billie Holiday who gave life to "Strange Fruit."

Billie Holiday, by the way, is a pseudonym for Eleanora Fagan.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 13 Oct 02 - 03:26 PM

Joe, STRANGE FRUIT is also attributed in The Real Little Book, C Edition, Hal Leonard, 1994, ISBN 0-7935-2942-5, p. 320, as: Words/Music by Lewis Allan; copyright 1940 by Edward B. Marks Music Co. This is the information I sent in with my transcription and midi for the "Missing Tunes" list last year.

Lin


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: sed
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 11:24 AM

One word in this impressive and shocking song seem to lack realism. What are called 'poplar trees' in my part of the Deep South are really tulip poplars which grow rather straight and tall. At least this is true in a dense forest such as where I live. Maybe if there was a single poplar in a clearing there would be some large lower limbs over which some menacing person might throw a rope.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: Mark Clark
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 01:35 PM

I've always assumed the song refers to the Tulip Poplar tree pictured here. Here is an example of the size these trees can reach. As I recall, it was a Tulip Tree in which Poe placed his treasure hunters in The Gold Bug.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: sed
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 06:06 PM

'Did you know that Perry County was once home to what many believe was the world's largest Tulip tree? It was reportedly over two thousand years old and located in Leatherwood. It was nearly 250 feet tall and 27 feet around it's base. Eighty feet from the ground the first limbs spread it's foliage.' That's a long throw.... maybe it would take a quarterback? 2000 year old tulip poplar


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 02:16 PM

Is this any relation to the book that was banned in Boston, Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith?


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 07:29 PM

No genus Populus (true poplar) in the "deep" south? I know the tree from Texas and the mid-south where it is medium to large depending on species, much branched.
No relationship to Liriodendron tulipfera, the large tree of the Magnoliaceae (the tulip tree), sometimes called the tulip poplar, a term that causes confusion between two unrelated tree families.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 07:37 PM

I seem to remember (barely) "Strange Fruit," Lillian Smith, as a novel about miscegenation. More than 50 years ago. It was a best-seller.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: Jeanie
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 08:21 AM

And yet more "Strange Fruit" tonight in the film "Still Crazy" BBC 1 11.20 - Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail (and several others) !

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Strange Fruit
From: Mr Happy
Date: 13 Jul 08 - 07:45 AM

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ry1MfgZrqlo


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