1969 was another great year in music, here are my 20 chosen songs (and those who came close).
Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
One of the greatest rock songs from any artist, “Gimme Shelter” is a glowering, snarling beast of a recording. It tiptoes in on one of music’s most recognizable chord-based riffs, ghostly “oooh’s,” and percussion ratcheting up the tension. When the full band enters—sinister low piano notes, fuzzy harmonica, organ chimes—it grabs you by the lapels and shakes you, begging you for shelter from an ominous storm.
-Bill Janovitz (Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones)
It first appeared as the opening track on the band’s 1969 album Let It Bleed. Greil Marcus, writing in Rolling Stone magazine at the time of its release, said of it, “The Stones have never done anything better.”
The recording features Richards playing in his new open tuning on electric guitar. The recording also features vocals by Merry Clayton, recorded at a last-minute late-night recording session during the mixing phase, arranged by her friend and record producer Jack Nitzsche.Lisa Fischer was later recruited to perform the song during their concerts.
– Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
A shitload of great music was released in 1968, here are my 20 chosen songs.
Madame George – Van Morrison
Madame George is the album’s whirlpool. Possibly one of the most compassionate pieces of music ever made, it asks us, no, arranges that we see the plight of what I’ll be brutal and call a lovelorn drag queen with such intense empathy that when the singer hurts him, we do too.
A song from the album Astral Weeks, released in 1968. It was recorded during the first Astral Weeks session that took place on September 25, 1968 at Century Sound Studios in New York City with Lewis Merenstein as producer.
In 1974, after he had recorded eight albums, Morrison told Ritchie Yorke when he asked him what he considered his finest single track and the one that he enjoyed the most that it was: “Definitely ‘Madame George’, definitely. I’m just starting to realize it more and more. It just seems to get at you… it just lays right in there, that whole track. The vocals and the instruments and the whole thing. I like that one.”
– Down on Cyprus Avenue
With a childlike vision leaping into view
Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe
Ford and Fitzroy, Madame George
Marching with the soldier boy behind
He’s much older now with hat on drinking wine
And that smell of sweet perfume comes drifting through
The cool night air like Shalimar
Chips Moman, now semi-retired and living in LaGrange, Ga., still writes songs occasionally. “I write ’em,” he says, “but I just leave ’em laying there.” (- The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, 2008)
Lincoln Wayne “Chips” Moman (June 12, 1937 – June 13, 2016) was an American record producer, guitarist, and Grammy Award-winning songwriter.
One of the most important characters in the Memphis music scene in the 60’s. Chips Moman helped start Stax Records, then American Sound Studios, which cut 122 chart hits from 1967 to 1972 — an unparalleled achievement.
Sure, I’ve always dug Steve Cropper… his guitar playing. Ever since the first Booker T. record. I heard that back in the Midwest. Yeah, everybody was playing like him.
~Bob Dylan (to Jann Wenner, 29 Nov. 1969)
Memphis is in a very lucky position on the map. Everything just gravitated to Memphis for years.