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Gimme Shelter
Song

Gimme Shelter

The Rolling Stones
Album:
Let It Bleed

Song Meaning of Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones, and what it is about


Gimme Shelter, is a song by English rock band the Rolling Stones and is the opening track on their 1969 album Let It Bleed, the track covers the brutal realities of war, including murder, rape and fear.


On a song that Keith Richards penned in only 20 minutes, the Stones tapped into the emotional devastation of the late 1960s.


The electric-acoustic guitar used in the intro, which is modelled after a Chuck Berry favourite, creates an atmosphere of unmatched dread.


With her soul-crushing cry, singer Merry Clayton brings Armageddon down: "Rape, murder, it's just a shot away." Days after Meredith Hunter was killed at the Altamont music festival, the song started to circulate. In 1995, Mick Jagger remarked, "That's kind of an end-of-the-world song, really."


"It’s apocalypse" Later, Richards said that his guitar broke on the final take "as if by design."


Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine:


‘Well, it's a very rough, very violent era. The Vietnam War. Violence on the screens, pillage and burning. And Vietnam was not war as we knew it in the conventional sense. The thing about Vietnam was that it wasn't like World War II, and it wasn't like Korea, and it wasn't like the Gulf War. It was a real nasty war, and people didn't like it. People objected, and people didn't want to fight it ... That's a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It's apocalypse; the whole record's like that.’


The song's inspiration was not initially Vietnam or social unrest, however, but Richards seeing people scurrying for shelter from a sudden rain storm. According to him:


‘I had been sitting by the window of my friend Robert Fraser's apartment on Mount Street in London with an acoustic guitar when suddenly the sky went completely black and an incredible monsoon came down. It was just people running about looking for shelter – that was the germ of the idea. We went further into it until it became, you know, rape and murder are 'just a shot away'.’


Song Lyrics of Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones


Oh, a storm is threat'ning

My very life today

If I don't get some shelter

Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

 

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

 

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'

Our very street today

Burns like a red coal carpet

Mad bull lost your way

 

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

 

Rape, murder!

It's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!

It's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!

It's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

 

The floods is threat'ning

My very life today

Gimme, gimme shelter

Or I'm gonna fade away

 

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

 

I tell you love, sister, it's just a kiss away

It's just a kiss away

It's just a kiss away

It's just a kiss away

It's just a kiss away

Kiss away, kiss away

Release Date

1969

Songwriter/s

Jagger-Richards

Producer/s

Jimmy Miller

Label/s

Decca, ABKCO

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