Strange Fruit



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.

lyrics by Abel Meeropol


I first heard these lyrics in 1970, sung by the great Nina Simone on a record called TELL ME MORE (Fontana International, STEREO 858 004 FPY, from Holland) which, unfortunately, has never been reissued on CD. The song has made a deep impression on me, and remained one of the best I've heard in jazz up to now.

In his book "Strange Fruit, Billie Holiday, Café Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights" (RUNNING PRESS, Philadelphia, London, 2000), David Margolick lists the following recordings of this great song.

Strange Fruit Discography

This listing of recordings of "Strange Fruit" is from the 1998 OCLC Music Library and other resources. It may be incomplete.

  • Over Here the Water Is Sweet
    Ladyslipper Music, 1997
Tori Amos
  • Cornflake Girl (UK limited edition CD)
    East West, 1994
Sidney Bechet
  • The Legendary Sidney Bechet
    Bluebird, 1988
  • The Master Takes
    Bluebird / manufactured and distributed by BMG Music, 1990
  • The Complete Sidney Bechet Vols. 3 and 4 (1941)
    RCA, 1991
Terence Blanchard
  • The Billie Holiday Songbook
    Columbia, 1994
Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy
  • The Fire this Time
    In and Out Records / Distributed by Rounder Group, 1992
Dee Dee Bridgewater
  • In Montreux
    Verve, 1991
Stan Campbell
  • Stan Campbell
    Elektra, 1987
Fred Ho and the Afro-Asian Music Ensemble
  • The Underground Railroad To My Heart
    Soul Note Records, 1994
Billie Holiday
  • The Best of Billie Holiday
    Verve, 1972
  • Strange Fruit
    Atlantic, 1972
  • Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Historic Recordings (compilation)
    Verve / Polydor Inc., 1976
  • All or Nothing at All
    Verve, 1978
  • Fine and Mellow
    Commodore, 1979
  • The Billie Holiday Songbook
    Verve, 1985
  • Lady Day (1939-1944)
    Commodore, 1988
    (includes the April 20, 1939 session that Columbia refused to record)
  • Compact Jazz Live!
    Verve, 1990
  • Lady in Autumn: The Best of the Verve Years
    (recorded 1946-1959) (two-disc box set) Verve, 1991
    (includes live version from 1945 Jazz at the Philharmonic concert at Los Angeles' Embassy Theater)
  • The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959
    (ten-disc box set)
    disc 1: Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts 1945-1947; Los Angeles studio session
    disc 6: 1955 Los Angeles studio session; 1956 rehearsal at the Duftys' home
    disc 7: 1956 New York and Los Angeles studio sessions
    Verve, 1992
  • God Bless the Child
    Pro Arte, 1992
  • Jazz at the Philharmonic
    Verve, 1994
  • Lady Sings the Blues: The Billie Holiday Story, Vol. 4
    Verve, 1995
  • Jazz Legends (compilation)
    RCA / BMG Direct, 1995
  • Billie's Blues
    Magnum Music, 1996
  • Strange Fruit 1937-1939
    Jazzterdays, 1996
  • Billie Holiday: The Complete Commodore Recordings
    GRP Records, 1997
  • Ultimate Billie Holiday
    Verve, 1997
  • The Jazz Singers (compilation)
    Smithsonian Collection of Recordings
    (Sony Music Special Products), 1998
Libby Holman
  • Libby Holman Sings Blues, Ballads, and Sin Songs 195-
Miki Howard
  • Miki Sings Billie: A Tribute to Billie Holiday
    Giant / Reprise, 1993
Ranee Lee
  • Deep Song
    Justin Time Records, 1990
Abbey Lincoln
  • Abbey Sings Billie Live! Volume 1
    Enja, 1989
John Martyn
  • The Church with One Bell
    Thirsty Ear Recordings, 1998
Deian McBryde
  • One Day in Melbourne
    EvAnMedia, 2003
Carmen McRae
  • Carmen McRae Sings "Lover Man" and Other Billie Holiday Classics
    Columbia / Legacy, 1997
Marcus Miller
  • Live and More
    PRA Records, 1997
  • Tales
    PRA Records, 1995
Faith Nolan
  • Freedom to Love
    Redwood Records, 1989
Lou Rawls
  • Black and Blue
    Capitol, 1963
Diana Ross
  • Lady Sings the Blues (soundtrack)
    Motown, 1994
  • Diana Ross Live: Stolen Moments
    Motown, 1993
John Sellers
  • Brother John Sellers Sings Big Boat Up the River and Other Blues and Folk Songs
    Monitor, 1958
Archie Shepp
  • Something to Live For
    Timeless Records, 1997
Nina Simone
  • Nina Simone
    Mercury, 1989
  • Nina Simone Sings Billie Holiday
    Stroud, 1972
  • Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
    Mercury 1988
  • Compact Jazz
    Verve, 1989
  • Pastel Blues / Let It All Out
    Verve, 1990
  • Verve's Jazz Masters 17
    Verve, 1994
  • Walkman Jazz
    Polygram International Music, 1989
  • Nina Simone: Tell Me More
    Fontana International, Holland, 1965
Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Through the Looking Glass
    Geffen Records, 1987
Willie "the Lion" Smith
  • Lion and the Lamb
    Topaz Jazz, 1996
Sounds of Blackness
  • Africa to America: The Journey of the Drum
    Perspective Records / manufactured and distributed by A&M Records, 1994
  • Conspiracy of Hope: Honouring Amnesty International's 25th Anniversary (compilation)
    Mercury, 1986
  • Signing Off
    Virgin Records, 1980
Shirley Verrett
  • Singin' in the Storm
    RCA Victor, 1966
Mal Waldron
  • For Lady (compilation)
    Prestige Records, 1992
Catherine Wheel
  • Chrome
    Phonogram / Distributed by Polygram Records, 1993
Josh White
  • The Legendary Josh White
    MCA Records, 1982
  • Sings the Blues and Sings, Volumes 1 & 2
Josh White, Jr. with Robin Batteau
  • Jazz, Ballads, & Blues
    Rykodisc, 1986
Cassandra Wilson
  • New Moon Daughter
    Blue Note / manufactured by Capitol, 1995
Shirley Witherspoon
  • Where Do I Sign
    NBS Listen, 1994
Robert Wyatt
  • Compilation
    Gramavision / distributed by Rhino, 1986
  • Nothing Can Stop Us
    Thirsty Ear Recordings, 1998
Webster Young
  • For Lady (compilation)
    Prestige Records, 1992

maintained by hepcat1950 TOP last update: April 19, 2008