Meaning of “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by Marvin Gaye

“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” is a song performed by the iconic American singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye. The lyrics of this song basically talk about the environment and how mankind is sadly destroying it. The song’s profound lyrics mention, among other things, the blue skies vanishing, oil spilling on the oceans and destroying aquatic life, radiation killing animals and the overcrowdedness of the earth. He concludes by asking how much more abuse can mother earth stand.

Gaye uses this song to lament on how the world has changed from the beautiful and safe place it used to be into something very sad.

Lyrics of Mercy Mercy Me by Marvin Gaye.

Facts about “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

  • “Mercy Mercy Me” was written and produced solely by Marvin Gaye.
  • “Mercy Mercy Me” was released on June 10th, 1971 as the second of the four singles from Gaye’s critically acclaimed eleventh studio album What’s Going On. In 2003, the Rolling Stone’s placed What’s Going On at the 6th position on their list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
  • The song’s famous sax solo was played by the renowned American jazz saxophone player Wild Bill Moore.
  • Gaye sang background vocals on this track along with the famous Motown female session group The Andantes. In addition to working with Gaye, the Andantes provided background vocals for such famous musical acts as the Temptations, the Isley Brothers, the Supremes, the Four Tops and Stevie Wonder.
  • The famous Motown session group The Funk Brothers played a variety of musical instruments on the song.
  • “Mercy Mercy Me” is widely regarded as one of the earliest efforts to bring the world’s attention to global warming and climate change.
  • “Mercy Mercy Me” peaked at the 4th position on the Pop Singles chart of the U.S. Billboard.
  • At the time of song’s release in 1971, no official music video was made. However, in 1999 (two decades after the song was first released), Motown Records released a music video for it. The video featured several celebrities including David Bowie, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Debbie Harry.
  • This song is one of the most famous and successful songs of Gaye’s entire career, which lasted from 1959 until his shocking death in 1984 at the age of 44.
  • “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” is one of the most famous songs that deal with the environment and the earth.
  • The founder of Motown Records Berry Gordy initially didn’t know the meaning of the word “ecology” from the song’s title.

Here is the music video of “Mercy Mercy Me” which was came out about 20 years after the song was first released:


Did “Mercy Mercy Me” win a Grammy Award?

Yes. About 31 years after its release, the song won a “Grammy Hall of Fame” award in 2002, making it Gaye’s third song to receive that honor.

Which artists have covered “Mercy Mercy Me”?

Since its release in 1971, this song has been covered severally. One of the most notable covers of “Mercy Mercy Me” was by the late English singer Robert Palmer, who recorded in 1991 as a medley with another smash hit song from Gaye titled “I Want You”.  Palmer’s version was successful and peaked at number 9 in Palmer’s home country the United Kingdom.

What musical genre is “Mercy Mercy Me”?

Classic soul.

Below is a video of Gaye performing “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” live on July 17, 1980 at the Montreux Jazz Festival. This is one of the most notable live performances of this song:

2 Responses

  1. I am a 61 year old man from the Love Generation. To this day when I hear this song I often get emotional and my eyes still get wet. Mr. Marvin Gaye was a beautiful person. Peace Always, Melgwa

  2. Ted Hackett says:

    My choice for best song, best written song, & best produced song of the ’70s – and it came at the very beginning of the decade. Global warming was not even close to an issue. Scientists were convinced the next ice age was coming. P.S. in the article you stated “In 2003, the Rolling Stone’s placed What’s Going On…” It sounds like your referring to the band. Just remove ” the ” and the ” ‘s “. In 2003 Rolling Stone placed What’s Going On…

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