Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Film: Strange Fruit with director Joel Katz at California Plaza, Sunday 8/6, 8 pm

Free, parking $5. LINK

Director Joel Katz presents his short documentary, which was previously aired on PBS, and presumably takes questions afterward. It was well reviewed, but I haven's seen it, so I'll rely on the Grand Perfromances writeup:

Strange Fruit masterfully combines history, biography, and jazz music. The film traces the genesis of the now –famous, haunting lyrics sung by jazz giant Billie Holiday. Originally written as a poem by Bronx-born school teacher-Abel Merepol, it becomes even more poignant knowing that the writer was Jewish. The history of the words, the song, jazz and the sad stain of black lynching in the American South makes it a must see for everyone.

"Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop."

- music and lyric by Abel Meeropol

Billie Holiday sings Strange Fruit: