Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones

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"Satisfaction" - The Rolling Stones (1965)

Mick Jagger said of The Rolling Stones fourth number one hit- “Satisfaction”:

“This was the song that really changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band.”

Written in 1965 by Jagger and Keith Richards, the track initially played only on pirate radio stations because its lyrics were considered too sexually suggestive.

Richards claims he composed it in his sleep. Apparently, he woke up in his hotel room with pretty much the guitar riff and lyrics completed in his head. He then recorded it on a portable tape deck, went back to sleep and brought it to the studio. The tape contained his guitar riff followed by the sounds of him snoring.

Both he and Jagger were not 100% sure the unique riff was original as it could have been inadvertantly copied from another song. They two were outvoted by the other three members of the band when it came time to decide whether to put it out as a single.

The story of the composition is about a guy who is frustrated with the useless information he hears on radio and TV, with life in general, in addition with his own personal plight of not being able to score with the ladies. He just isn’t getting any satisfaction on any level.

The Stones approached the verse with a series of increasingly urgent, tense harmonizations on the words and I try before exploding into the chorus- a cathartic release of all the frustration that has been building throughout.

The track opens with the guitar riff, which is joined by the bass halfway through. It is repeated three times with the drums and acoustic guitar before the vocal enters with the line: "I can’t get no satisfaction." The title line is an example of a double negative resolving to a negative, a common usage in colloquial English.

Jagger sings the verses in a tone hovering between cynical commentary and frustrated protest, and then leaps half singing and half yelling into the chorus, where the guitar riff reappears.

“Satisfaction” was considered risqué because of both its sexual connotations and the negative view of commercialism and other aspects of modern culture. Jagger claims it was successful because it captured the alienation of a generation and a time.

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