Gimmie Shelter

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: February-March & October-November 1969
Recording locations: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England; Sunset Sound & Elektra Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Producer: Jimmy Miller        Chief engineer: Glyn Johns
Performed onstage: 1969-70, 1972-73, 1975, 1989-90, 1995, 1997-99, 2002-03, 2006, 2012-14

Line-up:

Drums: Charlie Watts
Bass: Bill Wyman
Electric guitars: Keith Richards
Lead vocals: Mick Jagger & Merry Clayton
Background vocals: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards & Merry Clayton
Piano: Nicky Hopkins
Harmonica: Mick Jagger
Guiro: Jimmy Miller
Maracas: Jimmy Miller
 

Ooh the storm is threatening
My very life today

If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm going to 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


Ooh, see the fire sweeping
Our very streets today

Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost his 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

Hey, hey


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


Mmm, the floods is threatening
My very life today

Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm going to 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

 
 
 
TrackTalk

Gimmie Shelter
is a classic (example of a song where the music and words came together). That, I just slapped down on a cassette while waiting for Mick to finish Performance.
- Keith Richards, 1983


I wrote Gimmie Shelter on a stormy day, sitting in Robert Fraser's apartment in Mount Street. Anita was shooting Performance at the time, not far away... It was just a terrible fucking day and it was storming out there. I was sitting there in Mount Street and there was this incredible storm over London, so I got into that mode, just looking out of Robert's window and looking at all these people with their umbrellas being blown out of their grasp and running like hell. And the idea came to me... My thought was storms on other people's minds, not mine. It just happened to hit the moment.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)


We did Gimmie Shelter in a big room at Olympic Studios, and then did the overdubs in L.A. with Merry Clayton. In London Keith had been playing the groove a few times on his own - although I think Brian was still around at that point; he might even have been in the studio actually - but there was no vocal. 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.
- Mick Jagger, 2003


The guitar I used on Gimmie Shelter on Let It Bleed - as if by design, it fell apart on the last take.
- Keith Richards, 1989


That (song too, like Midnight Rambler) was done on a full-bodied, Australian electric-acoustic, f-hole guitar. It kind of looked like an Australian copy of the Gibson model that Chuck Berry used... It had all been revarnished and painted out, but it sounded great. It made a great record... And on the very last note of Gimmie Shelter, the whole neck fell off. You can hear it on the original take.
- Keith Richards, 2002


That's a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It's apocalypse; the whole record's like that.
- Mick Jagger, 1995


And I know it was during that time of the Vietnam War and so on, so it was very much the awareness that war is always present, or almost... very present in life.
- Mick Jagger, 2003


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