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The poems Strange fruit written by Abel Meeropol …
Abel Meeropol and Harper Lee had that goal in common, when writing “Strange Fruit”, a poem about lynching, and To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel about a persecuting southern to.
In recent years many musicians-from Carmen McRae to Nina Simone to Sting to Dee Dee Bridgewater to Cassandra Wilson-have recorded "Strange Fruit," each cut an act of courage, given Holiday's hold over it. (That might not apply to 101 Strings, which omitted the lyrics in its 1973 orchestral version.) The song continues to pop up in the most obscure places. The Pulitzer Prizewinning historian Leon Litwak uses it in his classes at Berkeley. It's what Mickey Rourke put on the turntable to seduce Kim Basinger early on in Adrian Lyne's 1986 film Nine 1/2 Weeks. Predictably, it failed miserably as mood music.) The song was a staple of the anti-apartheid circuit in Europe. Khallid Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan's notoriously anti-Semitic former national spokesman, quoted it in a speech cataloguing America's racist past - unaware, apparently, that it was written by a white Jewish schoolteacher from New York City.
The poems Strange fruit written by ..
Abel Meeropol, who is often remembered today for raising the two orphaned sons of the executed atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, recalled things very differently. An English teacher at De Witt Clinton High School in the Bronx for 27 years, Meeropol had led two other, parallel lives. One was as a political activist: he and his wife were closet Communists, donating a percentage of their earnings to the party. (The F.B.I. maintained that he had "been identified by reliable informants" as a party member until 1947, though it followed him for 23 years after that.) The other was as a poet and songwriter. He wrote incessantly poems, ballads, musicals, plays, usually using the nom de plume "Lewis Allan," the names of his two biological children, neither of whom survived infancy. Apart from "Strange Fruit," he is best known for writing the lyrics of "The House I Live In," a paean to tolerance sung by Frank Sinatra in an Oscar-winning short subject in 1945.
Holiday's 1956 "autobiography" - written by William Dufty (and known, like the 1972 film biography, as Lady Sings the Blues, though she had wanted to call the book Bitter Crop)-offers an account of the origins of "Strange Fruit" that may set a new record for most misinformation per column inch. ("Shit, man, I never read that book," she later said.) But in fairness to Dufty, she'd been peddling many of these myths for years. "The germ of the song was in a poem written by Lewis Allen [sic]," the book claims. "When he showed me that poem, I dug it right off. It seemed to spell out all the things that had killed Pop," Dufty quotes her. According to Holiday, her father was exposed to poison gas as a soldier during World War I and died of pneumonia in 1937 after several segregated southern hospitals refused to treat him. "Allen, too, had heard how Pop died and of course was interested in my singing. He suggested that Sonny White, who had been my accompanist, and I turn it into music. So the three of us got together and did the job in about three weeks."
Get the story behind Strange Fruit, the lyrics, ..
In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Located on Sheridan Square (a second Café Society soon opened on 58th Street near Park Avenue), it was the brainchild of Barney Josephson, a shoe salesman with leftist sympathies; its patrons, the historian David W. Stowe has written, consisted of "labor leaders, intellectuals, writers, jazz lovers, celebrities, students and assorted leftists." As Michael Denning of Yale has put it, Café Society represented a unique synthesis of cultures, blending the politically radical cabarets of Berlin and Paris with the jazz clubs and revues of Harlem. Nelson Rockefeller, Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, Lauren Bacall, Lillian Hellman, Langston Hughes, and Paul Robeson hung out there; Lena Horne, Teddy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Imogene Coca, Carol Channing, and Zero Mostel performed there. It was probably the only place in America where "Strange Fruit" could have been sung and savored.One day in early 1939, Meeropol - who had never met Holiday before and knew nothing about her father-sat down at Café Society's piano and played her the song. Neither Tin Pan Alley nor jazz, it was closer to the political theater songs of Marc Blitzstein and other leftist composers. But it was utterly alien to her, and, to Meeropol at least, Holiday appeared unimpressed. "To be perfectly frank, I didn't think she felt very comfortable with the song, because it was so different from the songs to which she was accustomed," Meeropol later wrote. She asked him but one question: What did "pastoral" mean?Josephson, too, said that Holiday "didn't know what the hell the song meant," and adopted it only as a favor to him; not until several months later, when he spotted a tear running down her cheek during one performance, did he feel the song had sunk in. ("But I gotta tell you the truth," Josephson liked to say. "She sang it just as well when she didn't know what it was about.") To be sure, Holiday was in some ways unsophisticated, famous for reading nothing more serious than comic books. Still, it's hard to believe she was as oblivious as Josephson claimed. Indeed, Meeropol later said that when Holiday introduced the song "she gave a startling, most dramatic, and effective interpretation ... which could jolt an audience out of its complacency anywhere.... Billie Holiday's styling of the song was incomparable and fulfilled the bitterness and shocking quality I had hoped the song would have."No one ever tampered with Meeropol's words. But Arthur Herzog, who wrote another famous song often misattributed to Holiday-"God Bless the Child"-claimed that an arranger, Danny Mendelsohn, was really responsible for the final sound.ne story has it that Holiday's mother objected when she began singing "Strange Fruit." "Why are you sticking your neck out?" she asked.
"Because it might make things better," Holiday replied.
"But you' U be dead," her mother insisted.
"Yeah, but I'll feel it. I'll know it in my grave.
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STRANGE FRUIT ABEL MEEROPOL term papers and essays
Lynchings - in which blacks were murdered with unspeakable brutality, often in a carnival-like atmosphere, then hanged from trees for all to see-were rampant in the South during Reconstruction and beyond, but had grown relatively rare by the late 1930s. (As the recent murder of a black man in Jasper, Texas, attests, they never completely stopped.) The N.A.A.C.P, until as late as 1941, had routinely attempted to push Congress - always to no avail - to enact federal antilynching legislation. Somewhere around 1935, Meeropol, in his early 30s at the time, saw a photograph of a particularly ghastly lynching. "It ... haunted me for days," he later recalled. He wrote a poem about it, one which was originally to have appeared in the Communist journal The New Masses but first saw print as "Bitter Fruit," by Abel Meeropol-in the January 1937 issue of The New York Teacher, a union publication. Meeropol set the poem to music, and in the late 1930s the song was regularly performed in left-wing circles-by the Teachers' Union chorus, by a black singer named Laura Duncan (at Madison Square Garden), by a quartet of black singers at a fund-raiser for the anti-Fascists during the Spanish Civil War. As it happened, the co-producer of that show, Robert Gordon, was also directing the first-floor show at the new Café Society, which had opened in late December 1938. The featured attraction: Billie Holiday.
Abel Meeropol, author of the poem “Strange Fruit”, ..
Nowadays there are more online references to Abel Meeropol as the author of Strange Fruit, who by the way, also adopted the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, than to any other member of our family.
2013 has seen the Strange Fruit concept, explode.
Strange Fruit is perhaps the greatest poem and song ever ..
"Strange Fruit" marked a watershed, praised by some, lamented by others, in Holiday's evolution from exuberant jazz singer to torch singer of lovelorn pain and loneliness. Some of the song's sadness seems to have stuck to her ever after. "She really was happy only when she sang," the jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason wrote. "The rest of the time she was a sort of living lyric to the song 'Strange Fruit,' hanging, not on a poplar tree, but on the limbs of life itself."
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