Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) – Marvin Gaye | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 2 weeks); 1971

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

 Marvin Gaye unleashed his masterpiece, What’s Going On, onto an unsuspecting public on May 21, 1971 although the title single had provided a short preview a few months earlier. Before What’s Going On – the single – Marvin’s track record included 33 Top 20 R&B hits, solo and duets, many of them soul classics. What’s Going On was a radical departure in both subject (commentary on the state of the world rather than romantic love) and form (an atmospheric layering of voice and instruments vs. the traditional Motown beat-driven arrangement). The basic tracks for the second single, Mercy Mercy Me, were laid down in March, yet Marvin continued to fine-tune it right up until two weeks before the album’s release. Motown released Mercy Mercy Me in June, and it – like What’s Going On – also topped the R&B chart.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Marvin Gaye

Lyrics Written by:

  • Marvin Gaye


  • In 2002, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” was his third single recording to win a “Grammy Hall of Fame” Award