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The Rolling Stones — Gimme Shelter
Album: Let It Bleed
Avg rating:
8.8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 5553









Released: 1969
Length: 4:26
Plays (last 30 days): 1
(''Ooh-ooh-ooh'')
(''Ooh-ooh-ooh'')
(''Ooh-ooh-ooh'')
(''Ooh-ooh-ooh'')

Ooh, a storm is threatnin'
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 (''Yeah'')

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very streets today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull, lost its way

War, children, yes
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 (''Yeah'')

(''Rape, murder'')
(''It's just a shot away, it's just a shot away'')
(''Rape, murder, yeah'')
(''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, yeah yeah'')

Mmm, the floods is threatnin'
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, yeah
Comments (856)add comment
As a young lad. I thought the vocalist was Grace Slick
one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time!!
 scraig wrote:
Merry Clayton is the reason this song is a 10.




Her vocal is fantastic but the song is already a 10, imho. It's the combo of everything: her vocal, Mick's vocal, the guitar, and the lyrics that nail the gestalt (if that's the right word) of the era.
Yep.... Still the greatest song ever...
 kcar wrote:

Well, that's one of the oddest segues I've ever heard on RP: 

"Almost Home" by Moby ==> "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones. 


2/3/2024
Must be a pre-recorded rebroadcast — same segue months later.  Every now and again we get a peek behind the RP of Oz curtain! ;-)
 ScottN wrote:
Every now and then I bump this eloquent comment from years ago . Thanks Dionysius.



  
For any English RP aficionados-  I heard Delia Smith (very famous TV chef and Norwich FC part owner) the other day on Desert Island Discs (longest running musical radio programme on the BBC - since 1942).  She baked the cake and took the photos!  
It comes as something of a surprise to me that after more then a half century, today seems to be the first time I have ever heard this. It's good. I do wonder where I have been.
 hayduke2 wrote:
MerryClaytonHWOFDec2012.jpg

Merry Clayton you are Fantastic!

This song is phenominally awesome   : )      Rock On  



  
What an intro.
This is one of my fave Stones songs.
Well, that's one of the oddest segues I've ever heard on RP: 

"Almost Home" by Moby ==> "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones. 

 nakitu.tenatako wrote:

There is a documentary film called 20 Feet from Stardom that tells a story about backup singers. Of course, Mary is included. The best RS song ever!


Thank You for the info!
There is a documentary film called 20 Feet from Stardom that tells a story about backup singers. Of course, Mary is included. The best RS song ever!
Remains an absolute TEN.

One of the all-time greats.
 kurtster wrote:

Wow, after all of these years, I finally read the lyrics.  I've been singing along all these years (sorta, now that I've read them) just thinking I knew the words.  Jeez, not even close on half of them.  Some of them are still hard to understand even knowing what they actually are now after 54 years.




Same here!  Thanx for the lyrics RP!   
54 Years later it still holds up. Definitely my desert island band. Although their Stripped LP would be my choice.
Wow, after all of these years, I finally read the lyrics.  I've been singing along all these years (sorta, now that I've read them) just thinking I knew the words.  Jeez, not even close on half of them.  Some of them are still hard to understand even knowing what they actually are now after 54 years.
One of the best from the GOAT of rock and Roll.  
I still consider this one of the greatest rock and roll songs out there...
 ne1 wrote:

I love the skewed distribution on the ratings. What a song, 10 for me.


Yes!  183 votes in the 1-5 range, with over 2,000  ratings of 10. 

The album cover is pretty cool, too.
 Greyerwrit wrote:
However unremarkable his voice is, people have paid to hear for a half century.  While I was in medical school, I went to several parties held weekly by friends of friends where they played only Rolling Stones.  I could rarely keep my very tired butt still.



agreed, and we must have attended the same parties.
This song defines what rock 'n roll is all about!
Best rock song ever.
"The day after recording "Gimme Shelter," which Rolling Stone ranks as the band's best song, Merry Clayton suffered a miscarriage."  - You can almost hear it when her voice tipps over, when Mick sang 'whoo' barely recorded..
Quite simply the greatest rock band ever.  

Nuf ced ...
 kingart wrote:
Jagger was never a singer or a vocalist, or never more than adequate.  At times, I think he's given far more credit for it then he deserves.  I find his voice annoying on tracks others here think are superb.  Yet I for one cannot imagine another singer doing it better. This is a stellar r & r classic, the Stones at their peak,  hardly a greater piece of music in the whole damn genre.  


Oh for sure, this song is an absolute classic.  Just saying as the act to follow hers, his voice is kind of a let down.
 Hippostar wrote:

The stark juxtaposition of such an amazing and powerful performance by Merry Clayton, followed by Mick's unremarkable voice.

However unremarkable his voice is, people have paid to hear for a half century.  While I was in medical school, I went to several parties held weekly by friends of friends where they played only Rolling Stones.  I could rarely keep my very tired butt still.

Just got goosebumps. Again. SO LOVE this song
 On_The_Beach wrote:
The indestructible KEEF turns 74 today!!

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e1/d9/78/e1d9782b67a7c23b5d1deab6a10999a5.jpg
Update 2022, Keith will be 79 in December!






Not a big fan of this due to Classic Rock FM playing this stuff so heavily, but it's still better than listening to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" for the 1000th time.
This is definitely a 10.  Full stop.
 Wonderloaf wrote:

Amazing how simple the song is (on paper)
very few chords
very repetitive
very perfect in every way

the sum is greater than the parts




Sometimes, simplicity is beauty!
 Hippostar wrote:

The stark juxtaposition of such an amazing and powerful performance by Merry Clayton, followed by Mick's unremarkable voice.



Jagger was never a singer or a vocalist, or never more than adequate.  At times, I think he's given far more credit for it then he deserves.  I find his voice annoying on tracks others here think are superb.  Yet I for one cannot imagine another singer doing it better. This is a stellar r & r classic, the Stones at their peak,  hardly a greater piece of music in the whole damn genre.  
The stark juxtaposition of such an amazing and powerful performance by Merry Clayton, followed by Mick's unremarkable voice.
Amazing how simple the song is (on paper)
very few chords
very repetitive
very perfect in every way

the sum is greater than the parts

 Edweirdo wrote:

One of the best songs on one of the best albums of all time.  Never gets old.



The impending sense of dread and apocalypse seems to be a primal feeling.
Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very streets today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull, lost its way

A song for Ukraine, today.


dionysius wrote:
The dread, the apocalypse of the late sixties captured in one stupendous track on one stupendous record album (Let It Bleed, by the way—everyone needs to own it!). I stand—or sit—in slackjawed amazement that never grows old or stale, when it plays on radio or on my stereo. The Stones have never surpassed this song, though they may have equaled it from time to time in the late sixties or early seventies. Shivers down my spine....
Every now and then I bump this eloquent comment from years ago . Thanks Dionysius.
if there is ever a song that needs the volume to go 11, this is it!
For me, when people say Beatles or Stones I say The Who, however this song sits rightly as one of the greatest rock tunes ever.
One of the best songs on one of the best albums of all time.  Never gets old.
What can be said that'd be worthy here? That squeal 👌
One of those rare perfect songs. Perfect...!
Gimme Shelter:  Great song?  Or the greatest song?

[Channeling the Colbert Report]
GREAT, ICONIC & CLASSIC!!!!................................
I was once rocking out so hard while driving with this song on I hit a deer. It's still a 10.
 slikr wrote:

goose bumps = 10



yes - every single time I hear this song
 tonyjory wrote:

The all-time best rock n roll track? 
Tony Jory, London & Somerset, England.



It was merely a curiosity the first time I heard it, but now every time I listen it gets closer to being one of my all-time favorite tracks.  The lyrics get under your skin.  This should be the new national anthem for the decades to come, only because the planet itself doesn't have one.  
11
Still as marvellous as it was in '69.
To all rock bands in the world:

We wish you a Merry Clayton!

The all-time best rock n roll track? 
Tony Jory, London & Somerset, England.
 bbout1967 wrote:
in the doc "20 feet from stardom" they play just Clayton's backing vocal in the original studio that she sung it.....it is haunting!!!

That documentary is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of popular music.
I love the skewed distribution on the ratings. What a song, 10 for me.
Generally considered the best song they ever wrote Yep. I agree. See best versions in 1973 timeframe
quite likely the greatest song in the history of Rock and Roll
 Relayer wrote:
Some sad facts about Merry Clayton:
Clayton had a miscarriage upon returning home from recording "Gimme Shelter", according to the Los Angeles Times.

On June 16, 2014, Clayton was severely injured in a car collision. Both of Clayton's legs were later amputated at the knees due to her suffering "profound trauma to her lower extremities" as a result of the accident.
Good Lord, this is awful - she was my favorite part of the song...made it raw

Saw "20 Feet From Stardom" and she was amazing. Would never have known about the rest.
wow

these guys sound like the foo fighters

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Very tough to listen to this the day before inauguration. How far have we really come since 1968? I hope our democracy survives tomorrow, and a new, better decade will begin and be sustained.
Some sad facts about Merry Clayton:
Clayton had a miscarriage upon returning home from recording "Gimme Shelter", according to the Los Angeles Times.

On June 16, 2014, Clayton was severely injured in a car collision. Both of Clayton's legs were later amputated at the knees due to her suffering "profound trauma to her lower extremities" as a result of the accident.
 lizardking wrote:

I've got this one rated at 10, so I can't disagree much, right? And not having been alive when this came out but alive when we still were afraid of the RUSSIANS (wait....that's still a thing, ain't it?) blowing us up with atomic weapons, this tune does rock and it's a great history lesson too....so yeah...top 10ish works for me ;-) Long Live RP and Learning to Love the Bomb (where's Dr. Strangelove at lately?) 
 
Swigging bleach with His Royal Orange Insanity?

On a more positive note... Hawkwind do an excellent cover of this.
Me and the howlers are dancing to this in Uvita, CR... 
 gillespp wrote:
#1 or #2 rock song of all time.
 
I've got this one rated at 10, so I can't disagree much, right? And not having been alive when this came out but alive when we still were afraid of the RUSSIANS (wait....that's still a thing, ain't it?) blowing us up with atomic weapons, this tune does rock and it's a great history lesson too....so yeah...top 10ish works for me ;-) Long Live RP and Learning to Love the Bomb (where's Dr. Strangelove at lately?) 
#1 or #2 rock song of all time.

Music journalist Nick Kent attached to Richards Lord Byron's epithet of "mad, bad, and dangerous to know".

 
On_The_Beach wrote:
The indestructible KEEF turns 74 today!!

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e1/d9/78/e1d9782b67a7c23b5d1deab6a10999a5.jpg
 

4th or 5th time hearing this in the last couple days. 2 - 3 times here, the rest on my pod.  Some Stones gets old FAST.  This will NEVER get old.  11 all the way. 
 Rico_55555 wrote:
WOW! The greatest opening song on maybe the best rock album of all time. Musically abstract--multiple layers of sound going on here all channeled through a vibrant, cocksure, sophiticated rhythum guitar. This one is a real gifted work of songwriting--genius in the world of rock music. Don't miss it. PLAY IT LOUD!
 

One of the most awesome intros in rock.
One of best songs ever written.. An almost impossible to top 10 no question. In a few hundred years time this will be used in space war movies in some futuristic hover helicopter thingy scene.
 peters.holz236 wrote:
Das beste was die Stones gemacht haben ....Mein absoluter Lieblingssong..
 
Yes! {#Bananajam}
1969 +/- 5 Jahre - in musikalischer Hinsicht kommt dem nichts nahe, denke ich.

1969 and plus/minus 5 years - in music there is no compromise, I think.
A housemate came back from NYC December 69,
The new release,
dropped the needle,

AAAAHHH 

 NUFF  SAID.
 hayduke2 wrote:
MerryClaytonHWOFDec2012.jpg

Merry Clayton you are Fantastic!

This song is phenominally awesome   : )      Rock On  
 
in the doc "20 feet from stardom" they play just Clayton's backing vocal in the original studio that she sung it.....it is haunting!!!
 Tomasni wrote:
Thank you  The Rolling Stones   for
Gimme Shelter


a STRONG 8 for me


 
Can we tempt you with a 9- Outstanding yet? I've got this at Godlike, a SOLID 10 for this track, summing up the sentiment of the time it was released, and hell if it's not still relevant. Sumabitch.
Long Live RP!!
Das beste was die Stones gemacht haben ....Mein absoluter Lieblingssong..
Thanks again

Sure not hearing this on the radio anywhere nowadays.
Best Stones song and one of the best rock and roll songs ever.
Is this the Smashing Pumpkins?

I mean the vocals are the same. The guitar playing is the same. The drumming is the same. The harp playing is the same. The background female vocals are the same. The hooks are same. The unforgettable lyrics are the same. 


OK....I stop laughing now.
I like to picture the Stones sitting around the studio listening to this song as they recorded it with big shit eating grins on their faces saying "Yeah we freaking nailed it".
... this is for my uncle who died much too early and who made me aware of music like this. I miss you and think of you every day.
If you haven't seen Twenty Feet From Stardom, it features the background singer on this song (Merry Clayton) and is very worthwhile to watch. https://twentyfeetfromstardom.com
I think this is the best Stones song, and really one of the most iconic and evocative of its time.
My absolute favorite Rock.

 
 GTT wrote:
Strange, but I had never read (or understood most of the) lyrics to this song until just now.  It was always one of my favorites, but now I really think it is my favorite rock n roll song of all time.

 
Which causes me to make a confession: I always heard this as "it's just a shout away," and somehow that seemed to work also.
Now that I know it's "shot" well that's more literal. War - it's just a shot away. And because I went these many years thinking the other way, it will probably always be informed by both, for me.
The indestructible KEEF turns 74 today!!

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e1/d9/78/e1d9782b67a7c23b5d1deab6a10999a5.jpg

Update December 18, 2023: Keith is 80!     
Thanks Bill and Rebecca for remembering to play the classics.

I don't mean necessarily the general term "classic rock" ... I'm talking about the classics.... like Gimme Shelter.

Need to hear a bit more of the music that framed our generation

cheers.



                            
                                                             Poster included with original release
                                                                    

                                                                       

Recorded  on February 23, 1969. 
Merry Clayton's vocals were added on November 2 1969. 
Released on Let It Bleed, on December 5, 1969 and at first titled "Gimmie Shelter".

Lead Vocals & Harmonica:
 Mick Jagger 
Electric Guitars:
 Keith Richards 
Drums: Charlie Watts
Bass: Bill Wyman  
Vocal Solo Merry Clayton 
Backing Vocals: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards & Merry Clayton 
Piano: Nicky Hopkins 
Percussion (Guiro): Jimmy Miller 
 

Gimme Shelter 
(M. Jagger/K. Richards)

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 

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin' our very street today 
Burns like a red coal carpet, mad bull lost its way

War, children, it's just a shot away 
It's just a shot away 

Rape, murder! 

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 

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 ~



 


More Awesome than AWESOME!
 MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN!
 On_The_Beach wrote:

Well, except for this one, of course!:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfVsfOSbJY0

 
HA!!!  That's too funny!
MerryClaytonHWOFDec2012.jpg

Merry Clayton you are Fantastic!

This song is phenominally awesome   : )      Rock On  
 arcs_n_sparks wrote:
Thank you again for playing the best song every written!
 
Well, except for this one, of course!:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfVsfOSbJY0
Thank you again for playing the best song every written!
goose bumps = 10
{#Dancingbanana}    {#Drummer}     {#Motor}
 arcs_n_sparks wrote:
Still the best song ever...

 
I sure can't argue with that statement.
Play it again, Bill. 

Oh, wait, I can do that myself. Get me iTunes cranked to public nuisance level.  
how would anyone rate this under 10?
Watts gets it right every time, start to finish.
 
Germany, 5 o'clock in the morning.

Time to wake up, everyone.  
Sorry.
Just can't help myself cranking the guts out of this.

Still the best song ever...
This tune truly stands the test of time...pity that the message is still so fitting.
 phlattop wrote:

it seems like his role in the band has been under rated for a long time. It would be interesting to know more about his contributions.

 
Judging by the commenters on these boards, nothing (i.e. Taylor being underrated) could be further from the truth.  He is/was an extremely melodic guitar player and Keith Richards loved what he brought to the band.

Mick Taylor does not appear on this track.  He did do overdubs on two tracks from this album but became a full fledged member of the band with the following album, Sticky Fingers.  Lack of song writing credits and the bands fierce touring schedule lead to his exit from the band and his subsequent replacement by Ronnie Wood.

That being said, none of those great 69-75 songs would cease to exist without Taylor (they might not have been quite as good, but they all would still have been hits). 

Strange, but I had never read (or understood most of the) lyrics to this song until just now.  It was always one of my favorites, but now I really think it is my favorite rock n roll song of all time.
my ringtone - it always rocks in my trouser pocket when you call me so call me ;-)
 phlattop wrote:

it seems like his role in the band has been under rated for a long time. It would be interesting to know more about his contributions.

 
I never get tired of listening to Gimme Shelter. Everything about it works - including Jagger's harmonica and of course Merry Clayton's vocals.

For a long time I thought that Mick Taylor played the lead on this track however, the guitars on this track are all Keith's. The first recordings were made in Olympic Studios in London during February and March 1969 (before Brian Jones died) so Mick Taylor wasn't even in the band at that point. He only played on Country Honk and Live With Me on the Let It Bleed album.

Merry Clayton's vocals were added in LA in October/November 1969 but none of the backing track was re-recorded from the Feb/March sessions. 

Kudos to Keith for this great work!
this song makes me want to get better speakers {#Dancingbanana_2}
Simply...perfect.
Mary Clayton makes this song what it is, a powerful anti-war hymn.
 medoras wrote:
Many (including myself) believe Mick Taylor was there at the height of the band’s achievements.

A great guitarist and a great legacy.

 
it seems like his role in the band has been under rated for a long time. It would be interesting to know more about his contributions.
 ScottN wrote:
dionysius wrote:
The dread, the apocalypse of the late sixties captured in one stupendous track on one stupendous record album (Let It Bleed, by the way—everyone needs to own it!). I stand—or sit—in slack-jawed amazement that never grows old or stale, when it plays on radio or on my stereo. The Stones have never surpassed this song, though they may have equaled it from time to time in the late sixties or early seventies. Shivers down my spine....
Every now and then I bump this great comment from years ago . Thanks Dionysius.

 
That's a great comment. I think the fact it captured the turmoil of the period is what elevates it as their best song. I'm hard pressed to come up with a better one from them. Can't you hear me knocking, Monkey man, You Can't always get..., Jumping Jack Flash (and I'm probably forgetting one or two others) are just a hair under this one.
Many (including myself) believe Mick Taylor was there at the height of the band’s achievements.

A great guitarist and a great legacy.
10 10 10 
Somehow I've managed to get to 50 without ever hearing this song until now!

Wikipedia says that Mojo included it in the top 10 most used songs in film scores and advertising - all I remember is one ad (automotive industry, I think) that used the intro and even then I'm not sure how I worked out that it was Gimme Shelter.

Can any of the Brit listeners comment? Was there any reason why this was rarely played on Radio 1 during the 70s and 80s?

I did manage to pick up many other bands' noteworthy album tracks just by listening to the radio. Amazing that this one slipped through the net.
 rabaak wrote:
Never been a Stones fan. But this is one of the few songs of theirs that is good even after all the over playing in the last 40 + years

 
yep, this is a rare one
This is such a beautiful song.
I'm not even a big Stones fan, but this is a 10 and maybe #1 all time rock song.
dionysius wrote:
The dread, the apocalypse of the late sixties captured in one stupendous track on one stupendous record album (Let It Bleed, by the way—everyone needs to own it!). I stand—or sit—in slack-jawed amazement that never grows old or stale, when it plays on radio or on my stereo. The Stones have never surpassed this song, though they may have equaled it from time to time in the late sixties or early seventies. Shivers down my spine....
Every now and then I bump this great comment from years ago . Thanks Dionysius.
Best rock song ever?
I think we can safely say it's in the running.