Many movies rely on songs to set the mood, and there are some that are relied upon a lot – what we like to call ‘Soundtrack Staples’. This time around we check out The Rolling Stones classic Gimme Shelter.
As far as album openers go, Gimme Shelter – the lead-off track on 1969’s Let It Bleed – is hard to top. It kick-started an angry album, with the earlier idealism of the ’60s having given way to prominent assassinations, riots and the Vietnam War – and mass protests against it.
Gimme Shelter quickly became a go-to anti-war protest song. Yet, according to Keith Richards, it was initially inspired by his watching people bolt for shelter from a sudden rainstorm. From humble beginnings…
Amazingly, it wasn’t released as a single, yet has become one of the Rolling Stones’ most instantly recognisable – and most loved – tunes.
Gimme Shelter has appeared on the soundtracks to several high profile movies, including three by Martin Scorsese, and three that starred Robert De Niro. Two of those cross over.
We’ve listed these below, leaving out – as we do – documentaries. But as well as the Stones’ 1973 Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones and, of course, 1970’s Gimme Shelter, special mention must be made of 2013’s 20 Feet from Stardom. A doco on some of the most amazing backup singers through popular music history, it features Merry Clayton, who gave the astonishing vocal performance that arguably makes Gimme Shelter so incredibly – and indelibly – memorable.
For the movie trailers and clips below, we’re putting in a blanket LANGUAGE WARNING. We are talking Scorsese and De Niro, after all.
Meanwhile, here’s the original of the song, followed by a top live take featuring the Stones in full-flight in Germany, 1998.
Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
Gimme Shelter is a stand-out on a soundtrack that was packed with classic soul and blues tracks – and, of course, Iggy Pop’s own Soundtrack Staple, Real Wild Child (Wild One).
Air America (1990)
Set in Laos during the time of the Vietnam War, Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr fly for the CIA’s own “airline”. Here they do it, accompanied by Gimme Shelter, in Spanish…
Iconic song. Iconic movie. Iconic scene.
The War (1994)
There’s that ‘V’ word again, as a Vietnam veteran deals not only with his own troubles since returning from the war, but those of his son.
Scorsese strikes again, with Gimme Shelter soundtracking two memorable murders – including this one:
The Fan (1996)
No Scorsese, but primo De Niro, as he plays a baseball fan who doesn’t quite know when or where to stop. Gimme Shelter is one of four Stones songs on the soundtrack.
Layer Cake (2004)
Before Kingsman for Matthew Vaughn, and before 007 for Daniel Craig, came this slick slice of action-infused crime drama. Here’s the full – and rather raunchy – Gimme Shelter scene featuring Craig and Sienna Miller (sorry about the SquishyVision):
The Departed (2006)
Scorsese strikes again, with Gimme Shelter soundtracking the opening sequence of this Boston-set Irish gang flick. “No one gives it to you. You have to take it.”
Denzel plays the fabulously-named airline pilot Whip Whitaker in this tale of a plane crash, addiction and more. Dig Gimme Shelter heralding the arrival of John Goodman: