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Boomer Anthems: Satisfaction is 53 Years Old

“Satisfaction” comes to Keith Richards – May 07, 1965 

In the early morning hours of May 7, 1965, in a Clearwater, Florida, motel room, a bleary-eyed Keith Richards awoke, grabbed a tape recorder and laid down one of the greatest pop hooks of all time: The opening riff of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” He then promptly fell back to sleep.

“When I woke up in the morning, the tape had run out,” Richards recalled many years later. “I put it back on, and there’s this, maybe, 30 seconds of ‘Satisfaction,’ in a very drowsy sort of rendition. And then it suddenly—the guitar goes ‘CLANG,” and then there’s like 45 minutes of snoring.” It wasn’t much to go on, but he played it for Mick Jagger later that same day. “He only had the first bit, and then he had the riff,” Jagger recalls. “It sounded like a country sort of thing on acoustic guitar—it didn’t sound like rock. But he didn’t really like it, he thought it was a joke… He really didn’t think it was single material, and we all said ‘You’re off your head.’ Which he was, of course.”

With verses written by Jagger—Richards had already come up with the line “I can’t get no satisfaction”—the Stones took the song into the Chess studios in Chicago just three days later, on May 10, 1965, and completed it on May 12 after a flight to Los Angeles and an 18-hour recording session at RCA. It was there that Richards hooked up an early Gibson version of a fuzz box to his guitar and gave a riff he’d initially envisioned being played by horns its distinctive, iconic sound

Though the Stones at the time were already midway through their third U.S. tour, their only bona fide American hits to date were “Time Is On My Side” and the recently released “The Last Time.” “Satisfaction” was the song that would catapult them to superstar status. Forty years later, when Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Satisfaction” #2 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” it put the following historical perspective on the riff Keith Richards discovered on this day in 1965: “That spark in the night…was the crossroads: the point at which the rickety jump and puppy love of early rock and roll became rock.”

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  • Daniel K Day May 7, 2018, 8:52 PM

    Naysayer here. I never figured out the immense charm of “Satisfaction”, granted that it makes a good dance tune. My pick for the best-ever Stones tune is “Gimme Shelter”.
    What an irony that so much of the best, world-class rock was written and performed by world-class scumbags.

  • andre May 7, 2018, 10:20 PM

    Daniel, I would agree with you. Never a fan of “Satisfaction” but “Gimme Shelter” is the ultimate rock and roll song and perhaps one of the tightest songs on the planet.

  • bob sykes May 8, 2018, 4:51 AM

    Well, not to be disagreeable, but I liked Satisfaction from the git-go, and it has always been one of my favorites. My all time fave, however, is Born to Be Wild.

  • I.C.Nielsen May 8, 2018, 5:37 AM

    I was 13 and ripping the clear cellophane wrap off my 3rd Stones album. Five notes and I was transported. I got myself a “Bill Wyman Special” bass guitar and jumped on for the ride. And what a Trip it was.
    Then came Altamont.

  • Kevin Dickson May 8, 2018, 6:06 AM

    Thanks Gerard….it made my Morning. Tomorrow…..something from Let it Bleed.

  • Vanderleun May 8, 2018, 8:30 AM

    Come to think of it, I.C., I was at Altamont. Maybe I should write something about it. Maybe I have….

  • ghostsniper May 8, 2018, 9:12 AM

    If you can remember Altamont…

  • Casey Klahn May 8, 2018, 9:45 AM

    Smells Like Teen Spirit is number 9??

    That just shows to go ya how I faded off the popular culture scene about the time Nirvana was getting big. Never mind that I one time pushed Cobain off his bike, back in our home town.

    Well. Half of that story is true, anyway. Incidentally, I still haven’t heard it, and wouldn’t recognize the tune if it were played near me. Call me a Luddite.

    The Stones! The Stones! I still can’t believe they remain together. Fred and Wilma…

  • Gordon May 8, 2018, 10:03 AM

    One could say the same about Fleetwood Mac, Casey. Freaking amazing that they could have the breakups they did, singing songs about it, and producing another song–The Chain–about how much they wanted the group to continue. Of course, the cocaine may have helped.

    Now Lindsey is out, and Mick is saying it’s a new band, not just a couple of subs sitting in.

  • pbird May 8, 2018, 10:07 AM

    I think my faves of the Stone’s are Beast of Burden and Brown Sugar. Hm. I didn’t approve of Satisfaction. As a young thing, I thought it crass.

  • Vanderleun May 8, 2018, 10:14 AM

    YEAH, yeah, ghost…. I realize that old saw “If you can remember the
    Sixties, you weren’t there” has some truth to it.

    But my curse is that I was there and I remember everything. Hence, a lot of my old “comrades” now despise me.

  • Callmelennie May 8, 2018, 10:15 AM

    Gimme Shelter is the ultimate rock ear worm. Martin Scorcese used it in the opening sequence of the movie “The Departed” The effect on my subconscious was astonishing; I was immediately transported back to that time. Gave me chills

  • Vanderleun May 8, 2018, 10:18 AM

    Brown Sugar…. written by Jagger about Marsha Hunt, one of my first wife’s close friends. Someday I shall tell about the time my wife and I acted as “in Loco Parentis” for Karis Jagger when she went to Yale, and that dinner that Jagger showed up at…. during the year it all went smash.

  • pbird May 8, 2018, 8:21 PM

    Cool, and interesting, GV.

  • ghostsniper May 9, 2018, 10:50 AM

    I saw that teen spirit video when it came out and figured it was all just made up. Then I seen them do it live on TV and it was indeed true, that Cobain was a trash player. The only way I could get a guitar to sound like that was to twist the tuners all over the place and then play it upside down and it still wasn’t right. So I took an old celestion greenback the kid stuck his fingers through the cone about 10 years before and jumpered it onto the good one inside my Fender Stage 112 “earbleeder” amp and just laid it on the floor and NOW I was Cobain for real. It was the hand full of hard rice dancing around in that blown cone that did it.

    Back in about 1971 Eddie couldn’t take his hands off a guitar for more than about 2 minutes so it was no wonder he didn’t have much money to do upgrades and maintenance on his only stick. He blew out the bridge pickup and was left with that whiney high pitched single coil at the neck and that just won’t do. Hanging over the edge of the dumpster behind Pitts Music Emporium in Torrance he grabbed onto a trashed DiMarzio PAF Pro. The holy grail!!! But it was in real bad shape. REAL bad. Eddie brought it home and tore it apart. Then he opened Alex’s O-guage train and yanked the motor and pulled all the wires off the commutator. He started rewinding them rods in the PAF but didn’t know how many turns. Clockwise 601, 602, 603…. pufffff, hold, cough, cough, coughhhhh, counter clockwise 604, 605….620, oh shit, clockwise 621, 622, 623…. and so it went. By the time he was done all the train wire was gone and so were the wires in the door bell and everything else close by. When he plugged it in it almost killed him. The polarity was buffeting back and forth and everyone in the room instantly got a headache. He hit that 7th fret powerchord and bent it up 2 whole steps and every eyeball in the house came out of the socket. WTF was that? Eddie laughed and stood up and took a stroll through the octopus’s garden and instant awe set in. Yeah everybody was used to 1 handed tapping but to see him do it with 4 digits on each hand at the same time. Whoa.

    And that’s how the VH brown sound came to be.

  • pbird May 10, 2018, 10:17 AM

    Now I don’t get Van Halen. Lest anyone think I hate guitars, I do get Hendrix.

  • ghostsniper May 10, 2018, 7:36 PM

    Listen to “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love”.
    The first 10 lines or so.
    (after that it just mostly repeats til it hits the lead, which is doable too but it’ll take more’n 30 mins)
    In 30 minutes time I can teach ANYONE with 5 working fingers on each hand how to play it note for note. Even if you’never been in the same room with a guitar ever. You will be so inspired you will immediately want to own a guitar. It’s a very simple song made to seem complex by 3 other band members coordinating professionally.

    Once you get that one down then we’ll move onto Panama, and then Me Wise Magic.
    The VH method of How to Win Friends and Influence People. heh