Strange Fruit

Words & Music by Lewis Allen
Recorded by Billie Holliday, 1939

Am       Em7   Am  A9  Am     E7
Southern trees bear a strange fruit

Am            Em7        Am  A9  Am   E7
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root 

Bm7-5        E7-9            Fdim     E7
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze

Am            Em7             Asus4  A9  Am
Strange fruit hanging from the pop - lar trees.

|  Am | G/B - E7 | Am - Em7 | Am |

Am       Em7          Am A9  Am    E7
Pastoral scene of the gal - lant south --

    Am      Em7          Fdim     E7
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth;

Am             Em7 Bm7-5 Em7   A9   Am   E7
Smell of mag - no - li -  a, sweet And fresh,     

        E7-9  Bm7-5      Fdim     E7
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Am          Am+7          Dm   Dm7  E7
Here is the fruit for the crows to pluck,

        Am       E7             Gdim F   E7
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

Em7-5     A      AM7          Gdim Fdim E7  
For   the sun to rot, for the tree  to drop,

Am   A9 Am  E7   Bm7-5 Em7-5   E7    Am
Here is a strange and    bit - ter  crop.

This one is subject to a lot of interpretation, musically, mostly because Holiday's vocal style. She allowed her voice to slid into, and out of, the melody in a way which was unquestionably emotive and personal -- but by definition, equally imprecise from a coldly musical point of view. Often, the note she was singing was nowhere to be found in the accompaniment in the version I transcribed, so determining what chord to specify can be something of a coin flip between being true to the vocal line, or being true to the accompaniment heard behind it.

Suggested by several visitors, most recently Taylor Ashton. For a long time, I've deliberately avoided doing the chart -- it is, after all, a profoundly distubting subject. But Holiday deserves the recognition, and so does the song, so it's finally here.

The lyric and guitar chord transcriptions on this site are the work of The Guitarguy and are intended for private study, research, or educational purposes only. Individual transcriptions are inspired by and and based upon the recorded versions cited, but are not necessarily exact replications of those recorded versions.