Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

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"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)"
Mercy Mercy Me The Ecology label.jpg
Single by Marvin Gaye
from the album What's Going On
B-side "Sad Tomorrows"
Released June 10, 1971
Format Vinyl record (7", 45 RPM)
Recorded Hitsville USA (Studio A); March 1971
Genre Soul
  • 3:14 (LP version)
  • 2:39 (7" version)
Label Tamla
Songwriter(s) Marvin Gaye
Producer(s) Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye singles chronology
"What's Going On"
"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)"
"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)"
"What's Going On"
"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)"
"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)"
What's Going On track listing
"God is Love"
"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)"
"Right On"

"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 and David Van De Pitte, multi-tracking vocals from Gaye and The Andantes, multiple background instruments provided by The Funk Brothers and a leading sax solo by Wild Bill Moore, the song rose to number 4 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart and number one for two weeks on the R&B Singles charts on August 14 through to August 27, 1971.[1] The distinctive percussive sound heard on the track was a wood block struck by a rubber mallet, drenched in studio reverb.[2] The song also brought Gaye one of his rare appearances on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it peaked at number 34.

In 1991, a music video of the song was released by Motown Records, featuring appearances by celebrities such as Smokey Robinson, Johnny Gill, Big Daddy Kane, Holly Robinson Peete, Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, Rosie Perez, Bell Biv Devoe, Wesley Snipes, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Rozalla, Debbie Harry and Vanessa L. Williams.

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. As on "Inner City Blues", Bob Babbitt, not James Jamerson, plays the bass line.

In 1991, Robert Palmer combined the song in a medley with Gaye's 1976 hit "I Want You". Palmer's single reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 on the Adult Contemporary chart in early 1991


The B-side, "Sad Tomorrows", was the early version of "Flying High". This song featured on the 40th-anniversary edition of the album. Lyrically, the songs are both the same except "Sad Tomorrows" is a quick two-minute snippet.*



  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 226. 
  2. ^ The Percussive Sound of 'Mercy Mercy Me'

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Hot Pants (Pt. 1)" by James Brown
Billboard's Hot Soul number one single
August 14–21, 1971
Succeeded by
"Spanish Harlem" by Aretha Franklin
  • Source: Spotify