Saturday, July 13, 2013


Merry Clayton, the indelible background singer of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter," came to Highland Park tonight for a screening of the new documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom. In true diva fashion, she charmed the whole house, telling amazing stories of Ray Charles and Bobby Darin, making us laugh again and again, and gracing us with a rendition of "His Eye is On the Sparrow." When asked about her contribution to "Sweet Home Alabama," she said, "my voice was my protest" and it made sense: The truest thing in that song is the harmony Clayton makes.

As we were filing out, someone said, "Not guilty."

Stunned. I hadn't even entertained the possibility of acquittal. Beyond my optimism and my imagination.

See a fire is sweeping our very street today. Burns like a red coal carpet. Mad bull lost your way.

Give us shelter indeed. Shelter those boys who walk the street unarmed but for candy. Shelter those who will lose heart and those who will lose sense from this awful verdict, this miscarriage of justice. Shelter those who continue to fight the good fight against institutionalized racism, against senseless gun laws. Shelter the children, shelter us all.