Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

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"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"
Song by Cannonball Adderley
from the album Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at "The Club"
ReleasedDecember 1966
RecordedCapitol Records (Los Angeles), October 20, 1966
GenreSoul jazz
Songwriter(s)Joe Zawinul
Producer(s)David Axelrod
Official audio
"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" on YouTube

"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" is a jazz song written by Joe Zawinul in 1966 for Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and which appears on his album Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at "The Club". The song is the title track of the album and became a surprise hit in February 1967.[1] "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" went to #2 on the Soul chart and #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[2]

"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy - Buckinghams.jpg
Single by The Buckinghams
from the album Time & Charges
B-side"You Are Gone"
ReleasedJune 1967 (June 1967)
RecordedColumbia Studios, New York, NY
GenrePop, soul
Songwriter(s)Joe Zawinul
Producer(s)James William Guercio
The Buckinghams singles chronology
"Don't You Care"
"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"
"Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)"

Original version[edit]

The original version was performed by: Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Nat Adderley (cornet), Joe Zawinul (piano, electric piano), Victor Gaskin (bass) and Roy McCurdy (drums). The theme of the song is performed by Zawinul on a Wurlitzer electric piano previously used by Ray Charles.[3]

Buckinghams cover[edit]

"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" has been re-recorded numerous times, most notably by The Buckinghams, who reached #5 in August 1967, adding lyrics to the tune. Musicians on the Buckinghams' version included James Henderson, Lew McCreary and Richard Leith on trombone, Bill Peterson, Bud Childers on trumpet, John Johnson on sax, Lincoln Mayorga on Wurlitzer electric piano, Dennis Budimir on guitar, Carol Kaye on bass, and John Guerin on drums.

Chart performance[edit]

Musical analysis[edit]

The first part of the theme is played twice and is completely made of notes from the major pentatonic scale of the first degree.

The tune is in the key of B-flat major and has a 20-bar structure with four distinct sections. The chord progression is mainly made of dominant-seventh chords on the first, fourth and fifth degrees, giving the song a bluesy feeling although it does not follow a typical blues progression. The subdominant (IV) chord in the beginning section emphasizes this bluesy feeling. In the second section, the tonic chord alternates with a second-inversion subdominant chord, creating a parallel to the I-IV-V progression (in which the tonic moves to the subdominant).


  1. ^ "This album gave birth to a Top Ten single of the title tune, much to the astonishment of many..." Michael Cuscuna 1995 Capitol Reissue CD liner notes
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 24.
  3. ^ Keyboards (german keyboard magazine), 06/2007
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1967-08-05. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  5. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 2016-08-12. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  7. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1967/Top 100 Songs of 1967". Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  8. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1967". 1967-12-23. Archived from the original on 2018-09-30. Retrieved 2016-10-01.