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Put Those Labels on Soup Cans, Not People

Updated on June 29, 2015
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Bill Russo is featured in the film & TV show, The Bridgewater Triangle & has written several books (both fiction & non) on Amazon Kindle.

Strange Fruit Hanging From the Trees (Billie Holiday)

Musical Genius & scrappy guy, Milt Gabler

Billie Holiday died today, July 17 (1959). Her singing is legendary and "Lady Day's" honors rank her among the greats of music. Her hits include God Bless the Child and Solitude.

Her most poignant tune is "Strange Fruit Hanging from the Trees" - a protest song about the thousands of lynchings of African Americans in the early and middle years of the century that ended 14 years ago.

When I first heard the song in 1959 (twenty years after she waxed it), I knew I had to do something to help. Now 55 years later, my tally sheet does not look too bad. I hope she would agree.

When Billie learned of the song in 1939, she immediately wanted to record it. "NO, NO, NO", she was told by all her bosses at Columbia Records and the CBS Radio Network. They were afraid of the backlash that the song would generate.

Billie would not give up. She approached Milt Gabler (a man who later would produce the 25 million selling disc, "Rock Around the Clock") and he agreed to help. Gabler managed to wrestle out a deal that let Billie out of her contract with CBS/Columbia for one day only..........and in those 24 hours he put together the storied session that produced "Strange Fruit". Milt used a studio in his father's recording company "Commodore Music" to make the disc.

Milt Gabler was also Billy Crystal's uncle and a large influence of the popular comedian.

Though the narrative is about the mass hangings of black people, it was written by a white man; a Jewish man who was a teacher in the Bronx. Oh, by the way, he was a COMMUNIST ! ! !

Reflecting on this, I am driven to say, "LABELS ARE FOR SOUP CANS; NOT PEOPLE".



Billie, live recording of Strange Fruit

As M.P. used to say on the BBC: "AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT"


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I have just come up with a new invention: Although my previous efforts such as "Flavored Nails for Carpenters", and "Microwave Ice Cubes" have failed to attract widespread attention, I am certain my new idea will be a smash hit.


It is a new additive for coffee. It's a cross between 'Coffee Mate' and "Cremora".
I call it 'CREMATE' !!!!! It makes your coffee REALLY HOT!!! The heavenly coffee for sure!!!!

"Cremate" for Heavenly Coffee

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    • Billrrrr profile image
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      Bill Russo 3 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks for reading Jodah and for commenting.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I love this hub Billrrr. So glad Billie Holiday was persistent in wanting to record 'Strange Fruit' and thanks to Milt Gabler for producing it. It's always good when people stand up for their beliefs. I also like your invention 'Cremate'. I'd buy it! haha...nice twist at the end of a serious hub.