We're on the subject of Strange Fruit, the poem that became a song, which is featured in my current Battle of the Bands. Click HERE to listen to two versions of the song and cast your vote for Nina Simone or Billie Holiday. It's a close battle because both renditions are so good.
My post for yesterday is THE ORIGINS OF STRANGE FRUIT. It touches on the history of lynching and reveals that the author of the poem, and subsequent song, used the pseudonym "Lewis Allan."
Lewis Allan was Abel Meeropol, an English teacher and member of the American Communist Party (which he later left). His poem, first known as Bitter Fruit, appeared in a teachers union publication. Meeropol added music to his words, and with his wife, Anne, and a singer named Laura Duncan, began to perform it as a protest song.
A couple of different versions of the story about how the song made its way to Billie Holiday exist, but she began to perform it regularly as part of her live act and recorded it in 1939 and 1944. She claimed in her autobiography that she helped write the song along with two other people, but numerous sources state definitively that words and music are by Lewis Allan, a.k.a. Meeropol.
In 1999, "Time" magazine named Strange Fruit the best song of the century.
The Meeropols were also less well known for their link to an unusual event: the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
|Abel and Anne|
Yes, the Meeropols and the Rosenbergs were all Communists, but they didn't know each other.
Coming up next: more about the Rosenbergs.
Infinities of love,