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Gimme Shelter–The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones first played the song live on the TV special, ‘Pop Go The Sixties’, on 31 December 1969.

Featuring Lisa Fischer: Many Say
the Greatest Performance of this Song

“Gimmer Shelter” is one of those classic songs that captures the nasty and dangerous feelings of people living on the sharp edge of annihilation for far too long, and yearning to swing the pendulum of chance the other direction towards peace and hope, but feeling gravity’s constant tug back towards destruction. It first appeared as the opening track on the band’s 1969 album, “Let It Bleed”.

The Stones were the first band I ever saw play live. It was September 25th 1981. I remember walking out on to the bleachers, and seeing more than a hundred thousand people rocking their brains out on a late summer afternoon at Philadelphia’s dilapidated JFK stadium.

There were human miseries and ecstasies my 12 year old eyes witnessed that day that I will never forget. A biker climbed up a thin pillar on the side of the stage and was balancing on one leg with a jug full of wine. He must have been 30 feet above the ground. Two guys who had been snorting something were hunched over themselves with noses pouring blood. I also saw an energized Jagger, still in his prime, marionetting around the stage with an Eagles jersey and an American flag playing great Rock and Roll. In the heat of the late afternoon, the small city of Stones fans collectively went out of their minds. I was instantly sold on this Devil’s music.

Gimme Shelter
(M. Jagger/K. Richards)

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna 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 is sweepin’
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

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“Cortez The Killer” –Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Bonnaroo Music Festival, Manchester, TN. June 13, 2003

Though brilliant through both of these Neil Young and Crazy Horse performances, the Dave Matthews band led by Warren Haynes and an all out guitar war with Tim Reynolds is the must see jam.

This guitar driven song is by one of America’s truly great artists. Where do you start when celebrating Neil Young as a songwriter? The only place I can start is with one that gets you in the gut. This song is social, political, poetic, and marries hurricane force with subtle imagery. Few rock songs capture the mystic and tragic mood of the time of the conquistadors.

“Cortez the Killer”is from the 1975 album, Zuma.

Rust Never Sleeps Tour in 1978

He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.

On the shore lay Montezuma
With his coca leaves and pearls
In his halls he often wondered
With the secrets of the worlds.

And his subjects gathered round him
Like the leaves around a tree
In their clothes of many colors
For the angry gods to see.

And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.

They carried them to the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up with their bare hands
What we still can’t do today.

And I know she’s living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can’t remember when
or how I lost my way.

He came dancing across the water
Cortez, Cortez
What a killer.

Cortez the Killer Solo & Unplugged Tour 2003 Neil Young

Great Covers!!!
Dave Matthews Band (with Warren Haynes)@ The Gorge 2011

Grace Potter, Joe Satriani, Steve Kimock, Reed Mathis, Willy Waldman and Stephen Perkins at the Jammy’s.

“Hallelujah”–Leonard Cohen

Gets better with age: Cohen performing Hallelujah 2009.

An Early Cohen Version

The fact is my heart still aches that Jeff Buckley is dead. Yes, Leonard Cohen wrote this song but for me Jeff Buckley owns it.

Cohen’s career was in a dark period and when he released Various Positions in 1984, people did not even connect much at the time to the song. Fact is it was not until John Cale and Jeff Buckley each covered Hallelujah nearly ten years later did peoples’ eyes open to this masterful prayer.

Here is a great article that will tell you all you need to know about possibly the greatest song of all time:  The Holy or the Broken Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”

John Cale

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Jeff Buckley 2007 Sony Music Video

Jeff Buckley Live 1996 France

K.D. Lang

Bon Jovi

Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris

“Ain’t No Sunshine”–Bill Withers

Great Live Bill Withers

This is another one of those staples among great soulful vocalists. Many are called but few are chosen comes to mind. Bill Withers wrote it and sang the hell out of it on his 1971 release Just as I Am. It is a pure blues wailing over the loss of a woman. The lyrics are sparse and direct. The emotion is real, especially in the Withers and Bland version. King’s rendition sounds like a preacher testifying to the flock. Mayer, well you be the judge.

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
It’s not warm when she’s away
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And she’s always gone too long
Anytime she goes away

Wonder this time where she’s gone
Wonder if she’s gone to stay
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
Anytime she goes away

And I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know,
Hey, I oughtta leave young thing alone
But ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
Only darkness every day
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
Anytime she goes away
Anytime she goes away
Anytime she goes away
Anytime she goes away

Bobby Blue Bland

Freddie King

John Mayer with a unique Reggae approach.

Selah Sue feat. Ronny Mosuse

Octavius Womack

Matt Andersen