Mercy Street

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"Mercy Street"
song by Peter Gabriel from the album So
Released October 1986
Recorded 1985
Genre Ambient music, world music, art rock, soft rock
Length 6:22
Label Geffen Records
Writer Peter Gabriel
Producer Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel
So track listing
Side one
  1. "Red Rain"
  2. "Sledgehammer"
  3. "Don't Give Up"
  4. "That Voice Again"
Side two
  1. "In Your Eyes"
  2. "Mercy Street"
  3. "Big Time"
  4. "We Do What We're Told"
  5. "This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds)"

"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",[1] even though the song was not released as a single.

Composition and style[edit]

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.[2]


Usage in film and television[edit]

"Mercy Street" featured in the 1986 episode Killshot of the third series Miami Vice,[citation needed] 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.

Release details[edit]

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.[3]

The song was also covered by:


  1. ^
  2. ^ Classic Albums: Peter Gabriel So
  3. ^ Andy Gill (2011-10-07). "Album: Peter Gabriel, New Blood (Realworld) - Reviews - Music". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  4. ^ "Mercy Street". Spotlight, Floodlight. Retrieved 2013-07-25. 
  5. ^ Kitty Empire (2010-09-12). "Fever Ray; Zola Jesus | Live review | Music | The Observer". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  6. ^ "Mercy Street". Fever Ray. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 

External links[edit]