Going For A Song: ‘Gimme Shelter’

The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter

Recently I watched the music documentary The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé: A Trip Across Latin America, and wasn’t expecting to find it as good as I did. What struck me most was the devotion they inspired, and the high regard and love for them that exists still in the countries they visited.

In Argentina this seemed most pronounced with the Rolingas (a lifestyle centred around the Stones music) and men and women falling to their knees at the sight of them, but at most gigs generally people were in tears. Now, I didn’t see the live footage of the Stones when they played Glastonbury, perhaps this was also the reaction they received, but I’m doubtful.

So what gives? It’s a simplification perhaps and one that I’m aware of being led to by the film’s narrative, but where in the US and UK the Stones were sold and marketed by their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, as rebellion and they grew into that; in a good few of these Latin American countries they were rebellion; the act of listening to them became a rebellious activity; one which could have great repercussions for yourself.

A guitar maker in Mexico tells how the Stones were seen as “part of the revolution”; in Cuba, when a fan first heard them in 1965, they “were truly underground music”, and recounts how he got thrown in jail for listening to one of their songs in the park. In this context then I think you can begin to understand some of the reactions – it isn’t nostalgia for a time now gone but perhaps a reminder for some of what they now have. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll but…

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