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Ultimately, The Rolling Stones portray the Vietnam War in a manner which reveres all those who may have been affected by the conflict, both domestically and internationally. Whether you prefer “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles or “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones, there is no denying they are two of the most influential bands.In relation to ‘Gimme Shelter’, the song evokes the aforementioned sensual feeling by recreating the disturbing noises of combat which may have been heard on the battlefield of the Vietnam War.
The sonic landscape of the record, most notably the form in which ‘Rape, Murder’ is sang, effectively symbolises and pays homage to the innocent lives that were lost during the conflict.
The crucial timing of the songs release, furthermore, coincides with the anxiety of young American males throughout the nation.
In relation to the complex art form that is Rock ‘n’ Roll, it is palpable that the record, rife with ambiguous and metaphorical phrases, proffers many avenues for historical as well as cultural interpretation.
2 Primarily, the sonic landscape of the record reflects the cries of the Vietnamese people, many of whom were innocently murdered throughout the tenacious conflict in South East Asia.
5 Between 300-500 men, woman and children were viciously murdered by United States Army soldiers from Company C of the 1st battalion, 20th infantry regiment, 11th brigade of the 23rd infantry division.
6 Through the artistic form of purposeful shrieking, the Rolling Stones are paying homage to the victims of My Lai and plainly portraying their dissatisfaction with the actions taken by the United States military.
During the songs second verse, The Rolling Stones illuminate the immoral course of which America has taken in a supposed quest for justice.
When claiming that the ‘mad bull’ has ‘lost its way,’ the band may be implying that America’s intrinsic notion of liberty has become distorted by the paranoia of a communist threat.
8 Although ‘Gimme Shelter’ is a reaction the war, the song is in fact a specific response to the escalation of American military involvement in concurrence with the draft of young American males.
The intensification of military involvement would undoubtedly serve to be a direct 5 Christian Appy, Vietnam: The Definitive Oral History, Told from All Sides (Random House: 2008), 55.