Monday, August 12, 2013

Looking Back

I've just spent the last hour before this wintery dawn listening to various versions of the Rolling Stones song Gimme Shelter, which is my favourite song of all time. Yep OF ALL TIME.
OK, I actually do listen to new stuff to find something better. Music is a BIG part of my experience of this bizarre phenomenon called LIFE.
But right now, that old nugget from 44 years ago is The One in my biased opinion. There's live versions by the Stones and all manner of guest vocalists from  Lady Gaga and Fergie to the awesome Lisa Fischer, but they are no match for Merry Clayton the original backup singer.

This was a tune of it's era - more Altamont than Woodstock, as The Singer once said:

"Well, it's a very rough, very violent era, 
Violence on the screens, pillage and burning. 
And Vietnam was not war as we knew it in the conventional sense..." 

"That's a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. 
It's apocalypse; the whole record's like that."
Mick Jagger
Finally, there's a new documentary that shines a light on the critical role back up singers play and making a tune into something huge. They never got much recognition or cash, but they were the glassers who tied the whole package together.Gimme Shelter is a wonderfully crafted tune - a great riff, evocative lyrics but it's the back-up singer that makes it. Sorry boys.

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