Song Lyric Sunday: Aroma & Flavour

This week’s prompt for Song Lyric Sunday from Jim Adams is Odour/Scent/Smell/Taste.

And in the spirit of Christmas (not) I have chosen Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit. No mention of the prompt in the title but the lyrics incorporate the words “smell” and “scent” in a stomach-churning juxtaposition.

The song started life in 1937 as the anti-lynching poem Bitter Fruit by Abel Meeropol (writing under the pseudonym Lewis Allan).

A photograph of the 1930 lynching of two young black men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, was Meeropol’s inspiration. Both the image and story are horrific – view and read with caution.

Meeropol later set his words to music, changing the title to Strange Fruit. Billie Holiday recorded her iconic version in 1939. And here she is, singing it live in 1959.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin’ 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 tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Songwriters: Lewis Allan
© Edward B Marks Music Company, Marks Edward B. Music Corp.

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