|song by Peter Gabriel from the album So|
|Genre||Ambient music, world music, art rock, soft rock|
|Producer||Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel|
|So track listing|
"Mercy Street" is a song written by Peter Gabriel from his 1986 album So. The song deals with the life and conflicting emotions of the poet Anne Sexton, and makes frequent allusions to incidents from Sexton's life and a number of her poems, in particular the work 45 Mercy Street. Themes touched on in the song include suicide attempts, troubled parental relationships, a desire to become whole, attempting to come to terms with the past, and confessing.
A video was created for "Mercy Street", even though the song was not released as a single.
Composition and style
The song is an example of Gabriel's interest in mixing synthesized music with world music elements. The song is very gentle, rhythmic and percussive in style. It starts with synthesized chords (the song features the Fairlight CMI, Prophet synthesizer and the Yamaha CS-80) before the percussion comes in. The percussion parts are an example of Gabriel's interest in world music and were recorded for the song in Brazil in advance by musician Djalma Correa, who was playing surdo, congas and triangle. They are slowed down in the final recording. The song also features two Gabriel vocals, one of which is a shadow vocal which is an octave below the main vocal, intended to give a more haunting vocal effect.
- Djalma Correa – surdo, congas, triangle
- Larry Klein – bass
- Richard Tee – piano
- Mark Rivera – processed saxophone
- Peter Gabriel – vocals, CMI, Prophet, piano, CS-80
Usage in film and television
"Mercy Street" featured in the 1986 episode Killshot of the third series Miami Vice, in the opening sequence of 1991 Brazilian soap opera O Sorriso do Lagarto (The Lizard's Smile), in the 2006 episode of "Cold Case" entitled "The River," and in the film Life or Something Like It (2002), starring Angelina Jolie and Edward Burns. Also featured in the film "Waking the Dead" (2000) starring Jennifer Connelly and Billy Crudup.
As well as making up one of the songs on Side Two of So, "Mercy Street" was released (remixed by William Orbit) on Gabriel's 1992 CD-single "Blood of Eden". It was also reinterpreted by Gabriel on his 2011 orchestral album New Blood.
The song was also covered by:
- Iain Matthews in 1990, as part of the album Pure and Crooked
- Black Uhuru in 1992, as part of the album Mistycal Truth
- Storyville in 1994, as part of the album Bluest Eyes
- Herbie Hancock in 1995, as part of the album The New Standard
- Bon Lozaga in 1997, as part of the album Black Canvas (Project Lo - Happy Rhodes on vocals)
- Gli Scapoli in 1997, as part of the album Everything Must Change
- Al Di Meola in 1999, as part of the album Winter Nights
- Miriam Stockley in 1999, on her album Miriam
- Zé Bruno in 2000, on his album Big Circle
- Gaelle in 2002, as a single
- Kate McGarry in 2005, as part of the album Mercy Streets
- Richard Shindell in 2007, as part of his cover album South of Delia
- Gregorian in 2007, as part of the album "Masters of Chant Chapter VI"
- British-born Brazilian singer Ritchie in 2009, in his DVD Outra Vez - Ao Vivo no Estúdio (Again - Live in the Studio)
- Spotlight, Floodlight featuring Rob Dickinson in 2010, as a digital single
- Fever Ray in 2010, as a single
- Elbow in 2010, as part of the tribute album And I'll Scratch Yours
- Classic Albums: Peter Gabriel So
- Andy Gill (2011-10-07). "Album: Peter Gabriel, New Blood (Realworld) - Reviews - Music". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
- "Mercy Street". Spotlight, Floodlight. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
- Kitty Empire (2010-09-12). "Fever Ray; Zola Jesus | Live review | Music | The Observer". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
- "Mercy Street". Fever Ray. Retrieved 2012-04-16.