Corey Harris in Austin
Tue Dec 8 13:00:19 EST 1998
Harris sang an intense song about a lynching, it was very moving and
appreciated by the social activist Bragg crowd. It got me wondering, are
there any other songs that deal with the terrible tragedy of lynchings?
It's not a fun topic but I can't think of any blues song that deal with
Try Billie Holliday's "Strange Fruit", which she had a hell of a time even
getting anyone to record until the jazz producer Milt Gabler did it for
Commodore back in the late thirties. It was strong stuff, especially for
the time, and most radio stations woudn't play it.
Another lynching song is "Suppertime" by Cole Porter. It came from a
Broadway musical called "As Thousands Cheer", a very cynical view of
politics. The song depicts a woman whose husband has just been lynched,
putting out the dishes for supper for her kids, musing on her loss and how
life has to go on.
I read somewhere that the song came about when someone bet him he couldn't
write a song about a lynching. It actually became a pop hit of sorts, with
Benny Goodman among many having records of it. Trick is, that the "lynch"
part is never mentioned specifically so the missing man could be taken to be
many different things. With "Strange Fruit", there is no doubt what the
Before you write off "Suppertime" as another trivial Tin Pan Alley number,
listen to the lyrics and keep the background in mind.
Hear something obscure from the world of early blues and jazz at 9 pm Friday
and Saturday night with host Fred Dabney from the Back Room of KRWG-FM, 90.7
FM, Las Cruces, NM
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