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Earth Day Countdown:
Begging Mercy for a Bruised Planet
By B SHAWN CLARK
April 22, 2016
ENGLEWOOD (Third Planet from Mother Earth). Legends tell of muses from ancient Greece (and later Rome) that channeled messages from the Gods as to the meanings of life on Mother Earth, and the role of humans that were given a choice to either deface her beauty - or become part of it - with their whims revealed in all manner of expression, most importantly for one Marvin Gaye: music.
For in birthing Mercy, Mercy, Me (The Ecology)(What’s Going On – 1971), what is regarded, in these pages (and elsewhere) as the foremost piece of music by, for, and of Mother Earth, this artist of most profound proportions reached the pinnacle of all the best that we as lesser mortals could scarcely hope to achieve by simply listening to what he has to offer, and appreciating all that it represents. This being due not only to the critical and commercial success of this music (both the album and the single) but by the motivations driving the man behind this music (as per SongFacts):
I would love to become an impeccable warrior, one who has no need for earthly things ***. I'd love to develop a distaste for those things and become only interested in knowledge and power that this earth will give us, if we're only willing to put in the time and effort.
The lyrical expression of his concern for his planet could not be more direct, and when coupled with his soul (and soulful style), more compelling:
Woo ah, mercy mercy me
Ah 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
What about this overcrowded land
How much more abuse from man can she stand?
His lyrics and arrangement, joined in by appearances by a cavalcade of diverse artists in the 1991 video reprise of this work (Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and David Bowie, to name a few) prove his point, as if to call upon them from the grave as fellow muses in the cause of preserving Mother Earth:
*** The power's here, it's in the rocks, it's in the air, it's in the animals. There are men [and women?] of knowledge who could take these forces and elements and cause mysterious things to happen to the body, transform themselves and do many, many marvelous things.
Himself a divining rod of divine inspiration, Marvin Gaye exhorted his fellow muses to channel innate inspiration from what Mother Earth whispered in their ears, that they echoed at times, even unknowingly, as in the case of Stevie Wonder:
[I]t's in obeying the laws of nature that this wisdom and freedom lies. Those songs aren't written for nothing. A lot of the time, they don't even know it as writers, but they're just forced to put Mother Nature into the picture, like in 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life.'"
Somehow, at the apex of that lofty place where the muses from time immemorial meet the gods and goddesses that hold dear the sanctity and continued vitality of all that is left of a world of wondrous nature still unspoiled by human kind, there remains hope, expressed in song, of a time to come when humans will have mercy on the planet bestowed upon them for safe-keeping by the gods, for their own sake, and for those yet to come into its glory.