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Gimme Shelter

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin' Our very street today Burns like a red coal carpet Mad bull lost your way

It’s ugly out there. We’re just 53 days away from the Black Hole, a.k.a Election Day; it’s the 19th anniversary of September 11. For the babies born on that day, this will be the first presidential election in which they can legally vote. And many of them will have to do it by mail.

War, children. It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger wrote “Gimme Shelter” in the fall of 1969. Jagger told Rolling Stone 26 years later:

Well, it’s a very rough, very violent era. The Vietnam War. Violence on the screens, pillage and burning. And Vietnam was not war as we knew it in the conventional sense. The thing about Vietnam was that it wasn’t like World War II, and it wasn’t like Korea, and it wasn’t like the Gulf War. It was a real nasty war, and people didn’t like it. People objected, and people didn’t want to fight it. The people that were there weren’t doing well. There were these things used that were always used before, but no one knew about them – like napalm.

About “Gimme Shelter” Jagger added, “That’s a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It’s apocalypse; the whole record’s like that.”

Rape, murder
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Every event has the potential, in this divided time, to incite violence, rape, murder, and actual war. Like the fires in California, things can easily burn out of control, especially when years of underbrush have been left alone in some effort to placate nature.

We’ve placated our human desires, and enjoyed our delicate pleasures here in America; our hard-won pleasures that were paid in past wars and battles for liberty.

I’ll leave you with two thoughts.

One of the most influential rock bands in history, U2, and its front-man, Bono, see America through a different lens. As an Irishman, he sees the opportunity of our generosity, the power of our faith, and also the hypocrisy of our nonconformity and “rugged individuality.” We uphold liberty while at the same time burn it down.

Watch U2 and Jagger perform “Gimme Shelter” at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

I tell you love, sister, it’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away

Nineteen years ago, we were welded into one nation for a short time. It didn’t last, and we didn’t nurture it.

The next 53 days are going to be hell on earth for America. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, and after the election, it’s not going to magically get better, no matter who wins. We will have to walk through this crucible, not as one nation, but as a nation bitterly divided by our grievances and our blame of the “other.”

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost your way

There is a better way. Let’s remember those who haven’t been here this last 19 years. Watch Bono sing and bare his heart at the 2002 Super Bowl half-time show–the #1 rated performance in Super Bowl history.

The emotions are still raw for some. Many have no memory of it, having been born too late to understand what happened. A nation was welded together 19 years ago, but now has fractured like 1969. We need some to get some shelter, or we’re gonna fade away.


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