500 Greatest Songs of All Time
The Rolling Stones, 'Gimme Shelter'
Writers: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards
Producer: Jimmy Miller
Released: April '69, London
11 weeks; No. 21
The Stones channeled the emotional wreckage of the late Sixties on a song that Richards wrote in 20 minutes. The intro, strummed on an electric-acoustic guitar modeled on a Chuck Berry favorite, conjures an unparalleled aura of dread. Singer Merry Clayton brings down Armageddon with a soul-wracked wail: "Rape, murder, it's just a shot away." The song surfaced days after Meredith Hunter's murder at Altamont. "That's a kind of end-of-the-world song, really," Jagger said in 1995. "It's apocalypse." Richards later said that his guitar fell apart on the last take, "as if by design."
Appears on: Let It Bleed (ABKCO)