Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Song Writing 101: Abel Meeropol's "Strange Fruit"

"Song Writing 101" is a semi-regular feature that showcases exemplary lyric writing.  Today it is Abel Meeropol's "Strange Fruit".

I first heard the story of "Strange Fruit" last weekend on NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday".  The story is embedded below - take a moment to listen to it.  It is beyond belief - the story is a unbelievable concoction of civil rights, Communism, the Rosenbergs, heartbreak, adoption and love.

I looked into the lyrics a bit more as well.  The technical execution is perfect, the point is unmistakable, and the emotional impact is massive.  It is a song that easily paints a vivid, graphic portrait in the listener's mind.  Although this song is new to me, I am definitely moved by it.

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

And here is the story of Abel Meeropol, the author of "Strange Fruit" - it is well worth your time to listen.

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