Strange Fruit Meaning

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The role of music is to tell a story; this story might be happy or sad, enjoyed by some but disliked, but what makes a song significant is if its message reverberates through the social consciousness and makes an impact on all who hear it. This is the impact of the elegiac blues song “Strange Fruit.” This song, written by a Jewish English professor named Abel Meeropol, but recognized as a staple of the blues singer Billie Holiday, can be called the protest song of the struggle black Americans underwent for basic rights and inclusion into society in the second half of the 19th century. It was the claxon that blared nakedly the brutality and absurdity of the lynching of blacks in the south to stir collective action on a wide scale. The reason…show more content…
But to truly understand its haunting nature, we place ourselves right inside Café Society, perhaps after word has gotten around that Holiday has a new number that is roiling the racial issues of the day The lights dim as an elegiac piano interlude sets the tone with mournful chords. Then, Holiday barks smoothly the first line, which leaves us perplexed as to what, “strange fruit” is. The repetition of blood defiling nature on “leaves” and “roots” builds the absurdity of the contrast of the subject of dead “black bodies swinging” existing in peaceful nature. More hypocrisy is added with the reference to the Christian nature of the South’s “pastoral scene” immediately desecrated by the agony of the “bulging eyes” and “twisted mouth” of the body. This leads to the singular rhyming couplet of “fresh” and “flesh” that reemphasizes the unaltered absurdity of lynchings that happen in a serene scene of natural wonders. The last stanza follows the same themes, juxtaposing gruesome images with natural images. Each word sung by Holiday is important; her mastery of variable intonation gives texture to the lyrics as they are said in a forcefully staccato fashion yet with an unstoppable rhythmic march that leaves us no time to breathe, except for the mournful piano chords between some lines. The last line repeats the central theme to round out the message, leaving us no release from the gloomy scene. The success of this song is best summed up by saying it has one goal, showing the horrors of lynching, and it states that face with such focus and intensity that we are unable to draw any middling conclusions but that lynching should be stopped, and by extension, the cruelty of white Americans towards black Americans should be ended. Its importance in civil rights history is

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