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Keith Urban and Alicia Keys - Gimme Shelter (Live Earth 2007)

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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Gimme Shelter on Wikipedia
"Gimme Shelter"
Song by The Rolling Stones from the album Let It Bleed
Released5 December 1969
Recorded23 February and 2 November 1969
LabelDecca Records/ABKCO
ProducerJimmy Miller
Let It Bleed track listing

"Gimme Shelter" is a song by British rock band The Rolling Stones. It first appeared as the opening track on the band's 1969 album Let It Bleed. Although the first word was spelled "Gimmie" on that album, subsequent recordings by the band and other musicians have made "Gimme" the customary spelling. The Rolling Stones first played the song live in 1969 at Pop Go the Sixties. "Gimme Shelter" was placed at #38 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2004.

Inspiration and recording

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Gimme Shelter" was created from the combined efforts of the singer and the guitarist. Richards had been working on the song's signature opening in London while Jagger was working on the film Performance. The song is a churning mid-tempo rocker and begins with a rhythm guitar intro by Richards, followed by Jagger's lead vocal. On the recording of the album, Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone, "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..." On the song itself, he concluded, "That's a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It's apocalypse; the whole record's like that."[1]

The lyrics of the song speak of seeking shelter from a coming storm, painting a picture of devastation and social apocalypse while also talking of the power of love:

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...Love, sister, it's just a kiss away, It's just a kiss away

A higher-pitched second vocal track is sung by guest vocalist Merry Clayton. Of her inclusion, Jagger said in the 2003 book According to... The Rolling Stones: "The use of the female voice was the producer's idea. It would be one of those moments along the lines of 'I hear a girl on this track - get one on the phone.' " Clayton gives her solo performance, and one of the song's most famous pieces, after a solo performed by Richards, repeatedly singing "Rape, murder; It's just a shot away, It's just a shot away," and finally screaming the final stanza. She and Jagger finish the song with the line, "Love, sister, it's just a kiss away." To date it remains one of the most prominent contributions to a Rolling Stones track by a female vocalist.[2]

At about 2:59 into the song, Clayton's voice cracks twice from the strain of her powerful singing; once during the second refrain, on the word "shot" from the last line, and then again during the first line of the third and final refrain, on the word "murder", after which Jagger can be heard saying "Whoo!" in response to Clayton's emotional delivery. She suffered a miscarriage upon returning home, apparently due to the strain involved in reaching the highest notes.[3] Merry Clayton's name was misspelled on the original release, appearing as 'Mary'.

The song was first recorded in London at Olympic Studios in February and March 1969; the version with Clayton was recorded in Los Angeles at Sunset Sound & Elektra Studios in October and November of that same year. Nicky Hopkins played piano; the Rolling Stones' producer Jimmy Miller played percussion; Charlie Watts played drums; Bill Wyman played bass; Jagger played harmonica and sang backup vocals with Richards and Clayton. Guitarist Brian Jones was absent from these sessions. An unreleased version features only Richards providing vocals, and another extended version has also surfaced, featuring the bass much more in the forefront of the mix.[4]

Recent Rolling Stones tours have seen the song, once a staple of the show, dropped from the set list.[citation needed] Many fans consider it to be more of a great recording than a great song.[citation needed] Greil Marcus, writing in Rolling Stone, once described it as "the greatest ever rock and roll recording."


"Gimme Shelter" was never released as a single. It quickly became a staple of their live show, first featured throughout their 1969 American Tour. It has since been included on many compilation releases, including both Hot Rocks 1964–1971 and Forty Licks, and concert versions appear on the Rolling Stones' albums No Security and Live Licks.

"Gimme Shelter" was placed at #38 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

In 2010, the component tracks of the song were released online. [1]

Cover versions

"Gimme Shelter"
Single by Grand Funk Railroad
from the album Survival
GenreHard rock, heavy metal
ProducerTerry Knight
Grand Funk Railroad singles chronology
"Gimme Shelter"
Single by Patti Smith
from the album Twelve
FormatDigital download
ProducerPatti Smith
Patti Smith singles chronology
  • Ruth Copeland on her debut album Self Portrait, performed with George Clinton's Parliament, in 1969 (reissued on The Invictus Sessions in 2002)
  • Original backing singer Merry Clayton recorded her own version in 1970, and it hit the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Grand Funk Railroad on the album Survival in 1971; a #61 U.S. hit as a single
  • Josefus for their album Dead Man.[5]
  • The Sisters of Mercy in 1983, on the B-side of their single "Temple of Love" (released on the album Some Girls Wander by Mistake in 1992). This version is notable for interchanging "shot" and "kiss" in the lyrics, ie. War [...] is just a kiss away, love [...] is just a shot away.
  • The Divine Horsemen, a Los Angeles post-punk band, included a note-perfect cover on their 1987 album Middle of the Night, with co-lead singer Julie Christensen doing a spooky take on Merry Clayton's wailing.
  • The Goo Goo Dolls on their 1989 album Jed
  • Metric play tribute to the song in their track "Gimme Sympathy" off their 2009 album "Fantasies"
  • The Inspiral Carpets in 1990
  • John Mellencamp covered the song during his 2001 Cuttin' Heads tour.
  • Meat Loaf covered the song during live shows in the 1980s with vocalist Leslie Aday (aka 'Leslie Loaf') duetting Merry Clayton's parts opposite her husband
  • Holy Soldier, a 1980s Christian metal band from Los Angeles, California, on the album Last Train in 1992
  • Hawkwind, studio album It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous, 1993
  • Michael Hedges, album Strings on Steel, 1993
  • Thunder on their album Their Finest Hour (And A Bit) released in October 1995
  • The Hellacopters released a cover in 1997 on their 7" "Like No Other Man" released 1998, also featured in Cream Of The Crap Vol. 1, 2002
  • Ashley Cleveland on her album You Are There, 1998
  • Rio Reiser, German singer, sometimes performed the song on stage; a recording was released only posthumously on the album Am Piano 2, 1999
  • Rock band The Accident Experiment on the maxi-single "Mind Death Machine"
  • Legião Urbana, on their album Música P/ Acampamentos
  • Kathy Mattea covered the song on her 2005 album "Right Out of Nowhere."
  • Turbonegro's cover was an unreleased song that ended up on their rarity collection Small Feces.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra on the album Symphonic Music of The Rolling Stones. This version of the song is heard in the Children of Men (2006) trailer.
  • Streetlab, techno remix, released 30 January 2007
  • Patti Smith released the song as a single from her April 2007 cover album Twelve.[6]
  • Keith Urban and Alicia Keys at Live Earth at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007
  • Angélique Kidjo and Joss Stone covered the song for Kidjo's album Djin Djin and performed it live at the Live Earth concert in Jonnesburg, South Africa on July 7, 2007
  • Stereophonics released a cover version as the B-side to "My Friends" in December 2007
  • Sheryl Crow incorporated elements of "Gimme Shelter" into live performances of her song "Gasoline", which appeared in its original form on the album Detours.
  • Paul Brady & The Forest Rangers covered the song for the final episode of season 2 of Sons of Anarchy. This version is available on the 5 song EP Sons of Anarchy: Shelter.
  • U2 covered the song at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame benefit concert on October 30, 2009, with Mick Jagger sharing lead vocals with Bono and featuring The Black Eyed Peas members Fergie, singing Merry Clayton's vocal part, and, playing piano and synthesizer.
  • Zeds Dead released a Dubstep version on Youtube.
  • Playing for Change made a music video rendition of "Gimme Shelter" which is dedicated to all the lost, homeless and forgotten people in this world.
  • Puddle of Mudd covered the song on their 2011 cover album Re:(disc)overed.

"Putting Our House in Order" project

In 1993 a Food Records project collected various versions of the track by the following bands and collaborations, the proceeds of which went to the Shelter charity's "Putting Our House in Order" homeless initiative. The versions were issued across various formats, and had a live version of the song by The Rolling Stones as a common lead track to ensure chart eligibility.

"Gimme Shelter" (Pop version - Cassette single)

  • Voice of the Beehive and Jimmy Somerville
  • Heaven 17 and Hannah Jones

"Gimme Shelter" (Alternative version - CD single)

  • New Model Army and Tom Jones
  • Cud and Sandie Shaw
  • Kingmaker

"Gimme Shelter" (Rock version - CD single)

  • Thunder
  • Little Angels
  • Hawkwind and Samantha Fox

"Gimme Shelter" (Dance version - 12" single)

  • 808 State and Robert Owens
  • Pop Will Eat Itself vs Gary Clail vs Ranking Roger vs The Mighty Diamonds vs The On U Sound System
  • Blue Pearl (produced and mixed by Utah Saints)

Other appearances in popular culture

  • "Gimme Shelter" is played in the final part of Air America as a large battle is being built up then fought.
  • "Gimme Shelter" is playable in the video game Rock Band.
  • A portion of the song appeared in Dexter Season 2 episode 5 entitled The Dark Defender.
  • A portion of the song appeared in The Simpsons episode "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays".
  • The song has become a signature theme in Martin Scorsese's gangster films, including Goodfellas, Casino, and The Departed.
  • It is used as the entrance song for Brazilian mixed martial artist Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira in the Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion.
  • In Layer Cake, it appears when Sienna Miller is stripping in Daniel Craig's hotel room.
  • "Gimme Shelter" plays in the promo for When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions on the Discovery Channel.
  • An episode of That 70's Show was named after the song.
  • An instrumental cover version of the song appeared in the trailer for the 2006 film, Children of Men.
  • The song was also played in the Entourage episode "The Abyss".
  • Andrew Garcia performed the song on the Top 12 week of the ninth season of the U.S. TV series American Idol.
  • The beginning of the song was used in the 1987 film Adventures in Babysitting.
  • A portion of the song appears in the 1969 episode of RTÉ's Reeling in the Years.
  • A portion of the song appears in the beginning of season 1, episode 4 of Hawaii Five-0.
  • This song is used in various advertising videos for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops.
  • The opening was aired in London's O2 Arena just before every singles tennis match at the ATP World Tour Finals, 21–28 November 2010. [Also featured were the Clash's "London Calling" (as players entered the arena) and Moby's "Porcelain" (during player warmups).
  • The song is played in the Life episode "Fill it up" (season finale of season 1).
  • The song is played in Knight Rider season 2 episode 1 “Goliath”
  • The song is the opening theme for the 2003 movie War Stories.
  • "Gimme Shelter" is the theme song of the 2010 video game Call Of Duty: Black Ops.
  • The song is played in Season 2, Episode 13 of the FX TV show Sons of Anarchy. This version is covered by Paul Brady & The Forest Rangers.
  • A portion is played on Top Gear's review on the Range Rover Evoque
  • The song is played in Season 2, Episode 10 (Season 2 finale) of Covert Affairs.


  1. ^ Wenner, Jann. "Jagger Remembers", Rolling Stone (14 December 1995). Accessed 20 May 2007.
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Gimme Shelter". (2007). Accessed 20 May 2007.
  3. ^ Snowden, Don (13 March 1986). "For Clayton, The Gloom Is Gone". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ "Gimme Shelter". (2007). Accessed 20 May 2007.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Patti Smith: Gimme Shelter". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 

External links

  • Complete Official Lyrics

Complete Video List

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