So many us of are still dreaming of 'Mercy Street'
On the Stuck in the '80s podcast, the topic of depression is jostled about with light-hearted teasing about Steve Spears ' Eeyore routine and battles with self-doubt. The truth is - we all feel down every now and then and sometimes a song captures our low mood so precisely, it's eerie. Perhaps no other song or video captures the mood of depression than Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street.
Few '80s albums are as adored as Peter Gabriel's 1986 So album. The album produced five singles including huge hits like Sledgehammer, Big Time and In Your Eyes. The other album cuts on So are equally satisfying including the somber Mercy Street. Despite not being released as a single, a video was made for Mercy Street. Dark and murky, the video mirrors the mood of the song, inspired by the works of American poet/playwright Anne Sexton.
Battling depression her whole life, Sexton was urged to write poetry as a form of therapy for her depression. Her works were published and she even won a Pulitzer for her output. However, her demons could not be overcome and in 1974, even with a successful writing career, two kids and a husband, she committed suicide. In 1976, the poem 45 Mercy Street was posthumously published and inspired Gabriel to write a song about feeling adrift is this world. A nearly seven-minute song, Sexton is mentioned in the last 30 seconds of the Mercy Street as Gabriel concludes the song with the lyric "Anne, with her father is out of the boat, riding the water, riding the waves on the sea" as the video concludes into darkness.
The writings of Sexton also influenced some of the despair heard in songs written by Morrisey. Gabriel should be resting up after concluding this year's Rock Paper Scissors Tour with Sting that was reviewed on the SIT80's blog by Bassnote last month in July. [Listen to the Peter Gabriel "So" Podcast.]
[AP file photo]