So, I have a confession to make. I’ve never been a follower of the Rolling Stones. Yeah, really.
It’s not a value judgment but, like pretty well no one else I know, I’ve just never been strongly drawn to them, for whatever reason.
It’s interesting, though: two years ago in February, I heard a local special event band play “Sympathy for the Devil.” The lead singer for the song, Ian Lodewyks of The Noble Thiefs and other bands, did an earth-shattering version of the vocal, and it along with the band’s instrumentation mesmerized me. For me since then, the original version just does not cut it. Edit: I’ve found a video I shot that night… unfortunately it doesn’t capture the whole song as my old phone’s storage was acting up on that of all nights…
The band was drawn from a larger group of over 40 musicians assembled to play a benefit concert in honour of the birthday of a young Winnipeg musician, Alex Danyliuk (1991-2013). Tragically, Alex died at the age of 22 from a sudden cardiac event related to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. My lad Kieran, a close friend of Alex’s, was in the band that played “Sympathy for the Devil.” The group was conceived of one evening by a few people including Boris (the event organizer and father of Alex), Kieran, and Ian. Boris named it the Champagne All-Star Band as part of an event to celebrate and honour what would have been the young man’s 28th or champagne birthday. (Please see my February 28, 2020 post on the Dave Matthews Band’s “Grave Digger” for more on “Alex Dee.”)
In addition to my above, limited association with Rolling Stones music, on Saturday’s pizza and movie date night, my sweety and I watched the film 20 Feet from Stardom. It’s a 2013 documentary about backup singers and is directed by Morgan Neville. The movie features many backup singers, including Lisa Fischer, Merry Clayton, Táta Vega, Darlene Love and others, and goes well back in modern music history.
Fischer, who sings in the video I’m using today, spoke at length about being approached to perform the studio recording of “Gimme Shelter.” For that reason and her stunning performance, I chose a live version of the song with her singing backup.
Fischer has also backed up Tina Turner, Sting, Luther Vandross (1951-2005) and toured with the Rolling Stones from 1989 to 2015. In the documentary, Stones lead singer Mick Jagger speaks highly of Fischer as a collaborator and friend. She has also released her own solo work.
Back to the Rolling Stones… I took a look at the vinyl I own by them, and there’s a few: Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), Goats Head Soup (1973, which still has a price tag of CAD 4.69 from Autumn Stone, one of Winnipeg’s preeminent record stores of the 70s), It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (1974), Black and Blue (1976), and Emotional Rescue (1980). All but the last one came from a collection I bought from an older brother years ago.
I must take these LPs out of the covers and play them sometime soon and see what I’ve been missing all these years. I guess it’s a good thing there’s not much else we can do in the COVID-19-besieged Manitoba at the moment…
“Gimme Shelter” is the opening track from the Rolling Stones’ 1969 album Let It Bleed.
Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the video for the song from the Rolling Stones’ official YouTube channel:
Unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.