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Published on Jun 28, 2008
The anti-lynching poem "Strange Fruit" was written by Abel Meeropol (1903 - 1986), a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx best known under his pseudonym Lewis Allan. He subsequently set the poem to music; it was famously performed by Billie Holiday.
Meeropol wrote "Strange Fruit" to express his horror at lynchings after seeing a photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. He published the poem in 1937 in The New York Teacher magazine.
I was both shocked and impressed when I first read this haunting plea for civil rights a couple of months ago. However, since I did not like the Billy Holiday version of the song (no offence intended - it is just that I am not into all that jazz) I wrote my own (folk rock) version of the poem, took my BOSS BR 1200 Digital Recording Studio which I had just acquired, fiddled around a bit and recorded all the parts.
At first I intended to use lots of lynching photographs for this video. However, most of those photos available are so horrible that I refrained from doing so. Instead, I tried to also incorporate photos which are supposed to express something upbeat or optimistic...
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.
NOTE: The FBI poster that turns up at 0.50 seconds is the original poster of the murder case which the fantastic movie MISSISSIPPI BURNING is based on.