Mercy Street is one of the most beautiful, original and highly intelligent and emotional songs ever composed and produced. It still gives me the goose-bumps every time I listen to it, and I’ve been playing it endlessly for the last 26 years. I listen to Mercy Street when I’m hurting and in search of healing; when I’m at peace and in solitude; and when I’m meditating and mind-traveling. The song never seems to wear out on me but rather continually evolve to something bigger and much richer for me to appreciate even more over time as it goes by.  Mercy Street is the song I want to be played at my funeral.

The only versions of Mercy Street which I love and respect are two of them: LP version and the William Orbit mix which is featured in a 1992 CD-single of Blood Of Eden by Peter Gabriel. Please take the time to read the lyrics and the meaning of the song below. I’ve provided a video of Peter Gabriel talking about what inspired him to write and dedicate his song to Anne Sexton who wrote a poem and play called 45 Mercy Street.

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (LP Version)…

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Title: Mercy Street (LP Version)
Year: 1986
Label: Real World Records / Real World Music

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (LP Version) (mp3)

 

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (William Orbit Mix)…

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Title: Mercy Street (William Orbit Mix)
Year: 1992
Label: Real World Records / Real World Music

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (William Orbit Mix) (mp3)

 

Mercy Street Lyrics…

Looking down on empty streets, all she can see
Are the dreams all made solid
Are the dreams all made real

All of the buildings, all of those cars
Were once just a dream
In somebody’s head

She pictures the broken glass, she pictures the steam
She pictures a soul
With no leak at the seam

Lets take the boat out
Wait until darkness
Let’s take the boat out
Wait until darkness comes

Nowhere in the corridors of pale green and grey
Nowhere in the suburbs
In the cold light of day

There in the midst of it so alive and alone
Words support like bone

Dreaming of mercy st.
Wear your inside out
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms again

Dreaming of mercy st.
Swear they moved that sign
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms

Pulling out the papers from the drawers that slide smooth
Tugging at the darkness, word upon word
Confessing all the secret things in the warm velvet box
To the priest-he’s the doctor
He can handle the shocks
Dreaming of the tenderness-the tremble in the hips
Of kissing Mary’s lips

Dreaming of mercy st.
Wear your insides out
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms again

Dreaming of mercy st.
Swear they moved that sign
Looking for mercy
In your daddy’s arms

Mercy, mercy, looking for mercy
Mercy, mercy, looking for mercy

Anne, with her father is out in the boat
Riding the water
Riding the waves on the sea

The Meaning Of The Lyrics & Anne Sexton’s Poem 45 Mercy Street

Peter Gabriel was inspired by Anne Sexton’s poem 45 Mercy Street which led him to write/compose his song Mercy Street, dedicating his song to her. Gabriel could relate to Sexton as a deep thinker with a troubling depression who searches for meaning through her art.

Anne Sexton, a poet, committed suicide in 1974 after a life marred by mental illness. The first couple of verses in the song play on the difficulty she had differentiating between her successful creative life as a poet and her failings in her “real” life as a daughter/mother/wife. Years after leaving the home where she lived with her father, one day she decided to go back and look for the place on 45 Mercy Street. But when she walked there, she wasn’t able to find the house nor recognize the neighborhood what she once knew.  It has all been changed over time. so in essence, this is what the song Mercy Street is all about … Anne’s searching of her home and past.

According to the uncredited sources on the internet:

As a poet, Anne, in effect, had a “leak at the seam,” her inward thoughts and feelings that got expressed through her poetry. Many poets have commented on the pain that comes through revealing one’s inner self.

The boat references allude to her final book of poetry, “The Awful Rowing Toward God,” about our inevitable journey toward death and the afterlife. “Tak[ing] the boat out” refers to her intention to accelerate her own demise. (She killed herself just after finishing the book.)

Corridors of pale green [aka 'hospital green'] and gray” could refer to her stays in mental institutions during her manic episodes (which alternated with her stints of “ordinary life” in the suburbs of Boston).

Wear your inside out” again refers to the way a poet exposes his soul to the world. That which, for most people, remains private and unknown is shown to all. The “daddy” allusions again seem to refer to God, in whose arms she might find that elusive mercy (so difficult to attain in this life, hence the reference to the moved street sign.

All of the confession allusions have double meaning, as much of Anne’s life was spent “confessing” her innermost feelings to psychiatrists ((whereas in the song, the “warm velvet box” might also refer to the psychiatrists and mind doctors)) as well as revealing them to the public through her poetry. The shocks can doubly refer to shock therapy administered by psychiatrists as well as the shocking things a priest might hear in confession. Per Wikipedia, Sexton was the epitome of a “confessional poet.”

Live Performace of Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street”…

Live Performance of Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (1988)…

Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio…

The pictures you see below are Peter Gabriel’s own Real World Studio where he recorded Mercy Street as well as the most of his previous albums, soundtracks and productions of other artists signed on his label Real World Music/Records.

Deep Forest – “Sweet Lullaby” (Extended)

DeepForest_SweetLullaby

Sweet Lullaby is my favorite ethnic-electronic epic track by Deep Forest. I was lucky to even find a maxi-CD single of this track back in 1994 (more than two year after its release). I just can’t get enough listening to the extended mix of Sweet Lullaby; I used to play it over and over again back in the day … sometimes for months straight. Nowadays I play this track once every month or two. And over the years I must’ve played it track well over a thousand times in total. I’ve lost count.  So, what I love about the extended mix is that the it starts off with a long instrumental passage building-up towards the ethnic vocals which kick-in almost half way through. The vocals then embrace the entire track (with beautiful under/middle/upper harmonic layers) and carry it to the finale. The melodic, punchy bassline is the vertebral column and base-station platform which drives the entire length of the track, keeping all its layers together tightly and protecting them from getting buried in any kind of mud. The melodic synth-chord pads are creamy, rich and significantly deep ….. playing elegantly along with the bassline …… complementing the main bass-melody ….. and taking you to a higher dimension.

Sweet Lullaby is one hell of an original, beautiful and emotional french masterpiece. Timeless!

Deep Forest – “Sweet Lullaby” (Extended)…

Artist: Deep Forrest
Title: Sweet Lullaby (Extended)
Year: 1992
Media Source: Maxi-CD single

Deep Forrest – “Sweet Lullaby” (Extended) (mp3)

 

Deep Forrest Guys

Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet

Wikipedia…

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Forest

Deep Forest is a musical group consisting of two French musicians, Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet. They compose a new kind of world music, sometimes called ethnic electronica, mixing ethnic with electronic sounds and dance beats or chillout beats. Their sound has been described as an “ethno-introspective ambient world music.” They were nominated for a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best World Music Album[2], and in 1996 they won the Award for the album Boheme. The group also became World Music Awards Winner – French group with the highest 1995 world sales. Their albums have sold over 10 million copies.

Interview with Deep Forent…

Source: http://www.deepforestmusic.com/dfpress_98-03-22Clear-Cutting.htm

Transcription: DEEP FOREST:  Clear Cutting
Aired on the radio program Echoes on March 22, 1998, Sunday evening.

Host: John Diliberto
Reporter: Kimberly Haas

——————————————————————————————-

(Tres Maria begins playing)

John Diliberto: Your hearing Echoes and this is John Diliberto. When Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet cleared a digital path of a forest of central Africa seven years ago, they opened up a world of music and controversy. Although they had never met a Pygmy, or let alone been to Africa, they adapted the chants of the Pygmy tribes there to their own dance beats and electronic orchestrations. Seven years later their debut album, Deep Forest, with its Sweet Lullaby song, remained popular and influencial. Now Deep Forest has a new album called Comparsa, that takes them to Latin America. Kimberly Haas does some “clear cutting” with Deep Forest.

(Sweet Lullaby is now playing)

Kimberly Haas: Deep Forest rode out of the jungle on the backs of Pygmies when their 1992 debut became a world-wide hit. Ironically, the best known song on the album, Sweet Lullaby, had little to do with Pygmies.

Eric Mouquet: The lead melody is coming from Solomon Islands which is not in Africa, it is in the north… in small islands north of Austalia. In the backround you have these water drums with the Pygmy youdles – and we always said that from the beginning but people are focused on the Pygmy (laughs).

Kimberly Haas: That’s Eric Mouquet, one half of the Deep Forest team that brought central African pygmies and Solomon island singers to the world. Their Deep Forest debut was a craftfully conceived and slyly constructed album that traded on dance beats, new age atmospheres, and world music exotica. And they’ve continued the trend on their latest album Comparsa. (Noonday Sun is playing in the backround.) Despite coming from one of the richest cultural trends in the world, Michel Sanchez says that they are more inspired looking outside of France.

Michel Sanchez: It’s true that we need to listen to some things which sound exotic for us, so if other people ask us to do something with French traditions, it’s really interesting but we know all of those things about French tradition so it’s not sufficiantly amazing for us.

Kimberly Haas: The music of Deep Forest is a jiggsaw puzzle, only the pieces come out of different boxes.

Michel Sanchez: Now we like to mix different cultures in the same song, but we have to find common points, and this is really the biggest part of the work because for Madagascar for example, we had 25 different cassettes and each time we want to do another song we have to listen to everything to find something which could fit with another culture.

(Forest Power is now playing)

Kimberly Haas: Orders can become blurred in the Deep Forest stew, and casual listeners will be forgiven if they hear Pygmies on tracks like Green & Blue.

Eric Mouquet: No…it’s not pygmies, it’s voices from Madagascar, and there’s children singing with youdles. This is one of the common points we can find in a different country. In Switzerland, for example, they are doing that, in the rain forest of the Pygmy and in Madagascar and sometimes in the Cranberries (laughs).

Michel Sanchez: We find some common points between Cuba and Madagascar too. That’s why we decided to focus on these chain of countries, and it’s very interesting to see that very opposite countries could have the same kind of cultures, you know.

Kimberly Haas: On the original Deep Forest album all of the voices were sampled from records and CDs. With Comparsa Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet have actually traveled throughout Latin America recording singers. But this is just the beginning for Deep Forest who cut and slice the songs to their own musical ends. For them the meaning of a language isn’t important, just the musical quality of its sound.

Eric Mouquet: For us, it’s so easy to not take care in a way to the meaning of the lyrics because we consider it more like a musical sense, like melody only, not words. And that means that it would be more heart felt host, because in French we know exactly what the words mean, and we know that you cannot put this word after this one, so it’s kind of a bizzare thing but with another language it’s so easy to do if you consider that it’s only music.

(Tres Maria is now playing)

Kimberly Haas: Deep Forest has some powerful musicians joining them on Comparsa, including mexican shemanic performer Jorge Reyes and jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul. Long time fans of Zawinul’s group Weather Report, Deep Forest say they met him after they heard him use one of their recordings to open his own concert.

Eric Mouquet: At the beginning of the show, when the lights go down, it played Bulgarian Melody from Boheme, the Deep Forest album. I was very surprised, and he came on stage and played synthesizer at the end of the song just to link the song with it at the beginning of the show. So I was very impressed and at the end I said we should go back stage to say “Hello” and “Thank you for doing that, it was very nice of you”. And he said something very strange, he said “You know you inspired me for my last album and my people”, and we said “No Joe, it’s just the opposite. You’ve inspired us for a long time!” (laughs).

(Deep Weather is playing)

Kimberly Haas: Deep Forest have been criticized for pillaging music of the world. But Eric Mouquet says they are following a tradition that goes back at least to Brahms.

Eric Mouquet: Brahms, for example, he was not inviting Gypsies to play, he was just picking melodies and putting it in his composition. So, it was sampling of course, but it isn’t like this. I really think that the sampler is a new tool, that it didn’t exist before, but now it exist so we like to use it.

(Media Luna is playing)

Kimberly Haas: You can hear Deep Forest’s latest global aquisitons on their new album Comparsa from 550 music. For Echoes, I’m Kimberly Haas.

(Media Luna ends)

John Diliberto: From their album Comparsa here’s Deep Forest with an interlude called La lune se bat avec les etoiles …

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