Friday, March 31, 2017

Weekend Mercy Song

The early '70s is seen as a time when much of the modern environmental movement became a political force with which to be reckoned, with the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and the passage of landmark legislation affecting air and water quality, land use, hazardous waste, and endangered species. Not insignificantly, the first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970.

Popular culture was also taking its awareness and airing of ecological concerns to a new level, not the least of which was soul superstar Marvin Gaye in his groundbreaking album, "What's Going On," released on May 21, 1971. (Gaye, who would have been 78 this Sunday, was tragically murdered by his father on April 1, 1984.) One of the great songs in his catalogue, composed by Gaye, was from that album. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" dealt with ecological degradation, a real departure from the songs generally being churned out by his record label Motown at the time. One wonders what he would think about the future of the ecology now that we've turned the keys over to a bunch of environmental vandals. Forty-six years later, the song stands as a poignant reminder that some battles are never over.

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