Song of the Week

EHSDA Song of the Week: Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

EHS Daily Advisor has had plenty of coverage lately about developments in enforcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others. In light of that, the Song of the Week is an R&B classic from Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).”

Released as the second single on Gaye’s 1971 album What’s Going On, the song voices concerns about the environment that have only compounded in the subsequent 53 years. When the song came out, Gaye was already a veteran performer on his 11th album, which was a concept album about a Vietnam War veteran returning home to find things in disarray with his country.

“Mercy Mercy Me” was one of the first songs raising the alarm about environmental damage.

“Whoa, mercy mercy me/Ah, things ain’t what they used to be/Where did all the blue skies go?/Poison is the wind that blows/From the north and south and east.”

Backed by a string section, the Funk Brothers on various instruments and Wild Bill Moore on sax, Gaye plays piano on the song. It ended up going to #4 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and #1 on the R&B Singles chart.

Gaye released six more albums, his last being 1982’s Midnight Love, which won two Grammy Awards. He died in 1984 after being shot by his father during an altercation.

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