Throwback Thursday: Gimme Shelter in Place … and a $1.10 Gallon of Milk
“I love the Stones. I can’t believe they’re still doing it after all these years. I watch them whenever I can … Fred and Barney.” — Steven Wright
The Stones (the band, not the cartoon) are indeed still doing it after all these years. In one of those late career moves that helps illustrate how certain artists have staying power long after their creative peaks, the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” recently hit No. 1 with its single, “Living in a Ghost Town.”
With lyrics like “life was so beautiful, then we all got locked down,” the song is a bluesy and poetic riff on our strange times. But it also brings to mind another Rolling Stones song from 51 years ago — one that was not released as a single but nevertheless became a go-to soundtrack pick for movies, TV shows and documentaries about the Vietnam War era or, really, any particularly fraught time since the ’60s. (You know “Gimme Shelter” is going to show up in one or two docs about the coronavirus era. When? I don’t know, but time is on our side.)
You can listen to “Gimme Shelter” or “Living in a Ghost Town” for “free” via your favorite streaming service. In 1969, though, you would have had to visit your local Sears and plunk down about $3 for a copy of “Let It Bleed,” the album that leads off with “Gimme Shelter,” on vinyl or 8-track (ask your grandparents).
The Stone’s somber new release and the even darker “Gimme Shelter” can both be heard as pleas for help during confusing times, and they got us thinking, well, about a lot of things. Living during times of upheaval and the art that they inspire, for one. But also about what a different world it was for consumers and retailers in 1969.
Today, while you shelter in place, you can have the necessities of life delivered to your door.
In 1969, with its riots, growing threat of urban crime and Manson Family murders, you might have wanted to shelter in place. But, sorry, you’d eventually need to brave the peopled streets and enter some brick-and-mortar stores. What would you have paid back then for the stuff on your hand-written shopping list? Here’s a sampling:
- Gallon of gas to get you to the store: $0.35
- Gallon of milk: $1.10
- Dozen eggs: $0.62
Oh, and that car you drove? It cost you around $2,000 if you bought it new in 1969. As for shelter, you paid $135 month on average if you rented. Thought the rent was too damned high? A first-class stamp for the letter of complaint you sent your landlord was six cents.
Tell you what, why don’t you just shell out $1.42 to take your mind off things and sit in air-conditioned comfort at the local movie theater? Looks like “Easy Rider” is playing. No Stones on that soundtrack, but it’s a chance to hear more classic rock anthems. Only they weren’t yet “classic.” They were just songs about another weird time in our history that we somehow made it through.