Computer Audiophile has a great article on Time magazine’s story of the century, and the history behind the song they chose.
In 1999, as the Twentieth Century was winding down, Time magazine sent its editors and correspondents out on an epic assignment: define, analyze and curate the Twentieth Century. It was to be the story of the century (no pun intended). Time wanted to present whatever had happened, what preceded it, what succeeded it, and what it meant. All categories were to be considered and evaluated, and as this column is about music, we’ll look at how they rated the music of that volatile, passing century.
They considered beauty and impact, and out of every piece of music written and recorded in the past hundred years, their selection as the most significant song of the century was “Strange Fruit,” by Billie Holiday. While I know there are excellent reasons for their selection, I asked several friends what they knew about the song, and that’s why I feel that not enough people know it. And, as you would surmise, the song has quite a story behind it. So it is both historic and it has a history.