"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" was the second single from Marvin Gaye's 1971 album, What's Going On. Following the breakthrough of the title track's success, the song, written solely by Gaye, became one of the most poignant anthems of sorrow regarding the environment. Led by Gaye playing piano, strings conducted by Paul Riser & David Van de Pitte, multi-tracking vocals from Gaye & The Andantes, multiple background instruments provided by The Funk Brothers and a leading sax solo by Wild Bill Moore, the song rose to #4 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart and #1 for two weeks on the R&B singles charts on August 14 through to August 27, 1971. The distinctive percussive sound heard on the track was a wood block struck by a rubber mallet, drenched in studio reverb. The song also brought Gaye one of his rare appearances on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it peaked at #34.
As the single became his second million seller from What's Going On, the album started on the soul album charts in the top five and began charging up the pop rankings. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" soon became one of Gaye's most famous songs in his extensive catalogue. In 2002 it was his third single recording to win a "Grammy Hall of Fame" Award. Like "Inner City Blues", Bob Babbitt, not James Jamerson, plays the bass line.