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Boomer Anthems: Gimme Shelter

File Under: Everything Old is New Again

I heard the Stones play this live at Altamont... or maybe I didn’t… or… well… things went all sort of liquid at Altamont so I can’t be sure.To this day I could swear I heard Grace Slick address the gathering with, “What’ll ya have boys?” but that probably didn’t happen just like that… and then they clocked Marty Balin and there were these repeated fist fights and pool cue swinging melees that opened holes in the crowd because people near the pool cues escaped by climbing over the people behind them and sort of swimming out of the crowd and I got up on the lower rungs of the sound/light towers and looking towards the rim of the bowl of California dust and brindle weeds I saw these clusters of of dancers jerking and twitching in silhouette in front of the bonfires they had started on the hill in the dark and everything got sort of mideval and then the Stones swung into Sympathy for the Devil and there was somewhere near the front of the stage the circle in the crowd opened up again and I guess that’s when that guy in the green superfly suit got stabbed to death and then there were more Stones songs and then it was over and we had a really long walk back to the car with 200,000 other people so like I said it all went sort of liquid on me. Good times!

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  • James ONeil May 5, 2020, 7:09 PM

    I know exactly what you mean. Am sure I’d been to basement parties in NYC that Bob Dylan was at, or maybe I wasn’t.

    On the other hand I caught many of the jazz all time greats after hours at the Five Spot, no maybe about it.

  • andre May 5, 2020, 9:30 PM

    When music used to be good. Actually the song is brilliant. Does in three minutes what an hour of pop music can’t do.

  • Gordon Scott May 6, 2020, 8:37 AM

    I’m a bit younger than you, Gerard. I remember Woodstock; I was well aware of the wider world at the tender age of 8. I have a better memory of my 14 or 15 year old female cousin playing the Country Joe song off the album, repeatedly, to see if I would react to the “Gimme an F,” chant. I didn’t. I couldn’t understand it, and thought it was “muck” or “duck” and did not see what the big deal was.

    I have no memory of Altamont whatsoever. I remember reading about George Lucas sitting on a hill a mile away, filming at a distance. I guess it wasn’t the first time a whole lot of people saw a killing happen and disagreed on how it went down.

    Decades later I would be doing security at WE Fest, a camping/concert venue in Minnesota. As the bands were all country, the greatest danger was that some idiot would get drunk and hurt himself. It was our job to keep everyone alive; we really didn’t worry much about defending the musicians. I did spend time backstage at one point because Barbara Mandrell had said that if anyone touched her between her bus and the stage, she would just get on the bus and leave. No one did.

  • Jake May 6, 2020, 9:11 AM

    Better version/Best version


  • Missy May 6, 2020, 10:01 AM

    I cannot get the Air Cav gunship scene in “Apocalypse Now” out of my mind, ever, when I hear this. What a soundtrack to mayhem. Brilliant.

  • H May 6, 2020, 10:37 AM

    Something like this, Missy?


  • Missy May 6, 2020, 12:37 PM

    H….oh my, oh yes. Thanks!

  • Lance de Boyle May 6, 2020, 1:23 PM

    Say, Gordon Scott…

    “Barbara Mandrell had said that if anyone touched her between her bus and the stage…”
    Are those synonyms for certain lady body parts?
    Just askin.

  • Callmelennie May 6, 2020, 2:44 PM

    One boomer anthem to rule them all

    Thats what Gimme Shelter is

  • H May 6, 2020, 3:22 PM

    Well, Missy, if you ever find yourself in L.A., that is to say, Lower Alabama, do stop in for a visit at the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker where all those folks matriculated, with a side visit to nearby Enterprise to look up the little memorial park done up by the grand old gals of the Daffodil Garden Club in 1972, God Bless ’em.

  • Missy May 6, 2020, 6:49 PM

    H….wow, it is wonderful to know about the memorial. I have never been to Mississippi and now will make a point of going there. Soon. I was engaged to a 1st Air Cav aviator who went through Forts Polk, Rucker and Wolters (TX) for training. KIA 1970. PH, 15 OLC, Posthumous DFC. A good man.