Gimme Shelter                May 18, 2013

By  Leonard
Zwelling

            Rock
and roll is lots of things. But more than anything else it is supposed to be
sexy, dangerous and loud. In the opinion of more than a few rock critics, this
song by the Rolling Stones, the first track on their 1969 album Let It Bleed,
comes closest to embodying all of these core values of rock music. It is my
vote for the greatest rock and roll song of all time because it is just
that—sexy, dangerous and loud.

            To
me, there is also one overriding message of this song and that is the possibility
for redemption in a very, very dangerous world. The world in 1969 was exactly
that, reeling from Vietnam, the Manson murders, the string of American
assassinations and the unrest at the Democratic convention the year before that
ushered in President Nixon. The knifing at the Stones’ concert at Altamont at
the end of 1969 by Hell’s Angels that can be seen live in the film named after
the song made by the Maysle brothers marks the end of the year that included a
very short Woodstock era of peace and love.  Who knew there was much more to come for Watergate was a
mere three years away?

            Mick
is telling us about all the horrors around him and how he’s looking for some
protection for his emotion, his person and his sanity. It is a rip-roaring
scream for help with howling guitar licks and a wall of sound augmented by the
screams of Merry Clayton singing with Jumpin’ Jack Flash himself. I still get
chills with the opening riff and it only builds to a climactic crescendo of
fury and angst.

            I
propose that the faculty and staff of MD Anderson adopt this song as its
anthem. For weeks now I have heard little else but complaints on every level.
Some have been howls and certainly “threatening” as the lyrics warn.

            See
more patients, but we are cutting back on hiring.

            Do
more and better research as the NIH budget vanishes.

            Be
more efficient, but without significant IS improvements.

            Bill,
code, check the box. Isn’t that why you went to medical school?

             We need more money to do the things that
YOU (are you among the YOU?) want to do.

           

            And
now we learn that the President has had a fulfilling year, but no merits will
go to the faculty and by the way we expect even more out of you next year.

            Gimme
shelter is right, but first, gimme a break!

            MD
Anderson has been around longer than the Rolling Stones, but the Stones are
aging far better and make a helluva a lot more money. The only shelter the
Stones need is from the IRS. The faculty and staff could use a bit more or they
will indeed “fade away”.

            The
shelter most are seeking is from the very leadership that is having such a
fulfilling year. At a recent strategic meeting of leadership, that leadership
was met with silence by the collected faculty, but, of course, in space (a
leadership vacuum?), no one can hear you scream.

And: here’s what this looks like live!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDxpdFKuGb4

Leonard Zwelling