MERCY MERCY ME



MERCY MERCY ME
200 x 122 cm.
Spraypaint and acrylic on recycled board.
In 1971, Marvin Gaye wrote a song called Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology). It featured on his iconic album What’s Going On. The track was intended to strike a resonant chord, as an erstwhile archaic anthem, bringing light to the ills of environmental degradation. At the time he told Rolling Stone magazine “I began to reevaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say. I realised that I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people. I wanted them to take a look at what was happening in the world.”
Half a century later, the poignant words of Gaye’s flipped paean to industrialisation, corporate greed and the wanton destruction of the natural world have been lost under a deluge of vanilla popular music, and artistic expression primarily derived from introspection and shallow excess. His closing refrain ‘How much more abuse from man can she stand?’ is at once heart-rending, tragic and painfully prophetic.
Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
Marvin Gaye. June 10th 1971. Tamla. (3:14)

Mercy, mercy me
Things ain't what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east

Mercy, mercy me
Things ain't what they used to be, no no
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury

Mercy, mercy me
Things ain't what they used to be, no no
Radiation under ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying

Mercy, mercy me
Things ain't what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land
How much more abuse from man can she
stand?


All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.