One Song/Three Versions – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

When I’m drivin’ in my car
When a man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to drive my imagination

I can’t get no
No, no, no

The story of how Keith Richards came up with “Satisfaction,” is, I think, pretty well known. But for those who haven’t heard it, here’s what Keef says in his book, Life:

“I was between girlfriends at the time, hence maybe the mood of the song. I wrote “Satisfaction” in my sleep. I had no idea I’d written it… I looked at the cassette player that morning and knew I’d put a brand-new tape in the previous night. I pushed rewind and there was “Satisfaction.” It was just the bare bones of the song… and forty minutes of me snoring… I wish I’d kept [the cassette].”

Released in 1965, it’s hard now to relate the impact this song had both on kids who bought it and parents who hated it. (I said much the same in my original post on the Stones). Wikipedia: “In its day the song was perceived as disturbing because of both its sexual connotations and the negative view of commercialism and other aspects of modern culture. Critic Paul Gambaccini stated: “The lyrics to this were truly threatening to an older audience. This song was perceived as an attack on the status quo.”

When the Rolling Stones performed the song on Shindig in 1965, the line “trying to make some girl” was censored, although a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show on 13 February 1966 was uncensored. Forty years later, when the band performed three songs during the February 2006 Super Bowl XL halftime show, “Satisfaction” was the only one of the three songs not censored as it was broadcast.”

Keef again: “In “Satisfaction,” I was imagining horns, trying to imitate their sound… I’d already heard the riff in my head the way Otis Redding did it later… But we didn’t have any horns [so] the fuzz tone came in handy so I could give a shape to what the horns were supposed to do.” So a sort of placeholder if you will.

But the record was released without the Stones’ knowledge and went straight to number one. Keith admitted that you couldn’t argue with success.

However, Otis Redding heard the song and, well, here’s your horns. This is Otis at Monterey Pop, making the lyrics up as he went along apparently:

But the real inspiration for this post was a 2005 CD I picked up a little while ago called, All Wood and Stones by John Batdorf and James Lee Stanley, both American folk singer/songwriter/guitarists. Each of them have long pedigrees in the music business although I confess that prior to this record, I didn’t know much about either.

This CD has all-acoustic versions of Stones songs such as “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Mother’s Little Helper,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” etc. (A sequel was released in 2013). Not only is it a good album but it forces you to hear these songs in a new way for the first time. Which is exactly why I started doing these One Song/Three Version posts in the first place:

“Satisfaction” held the number one spot on the charts for four weeks, being knocked off on 7 August by “I’m Henery the Eighth, I Am” by Herman’s Hermits. (Dear God!) In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine placed “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in the second spot on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” (After “Like a Rolling Stone,” by Dylan.)

The song was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2006.

Source: Life by Keith Richards. Little, Brown and Company

7 thoughts on “One Song/Three Versions – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

  1. Sadly the Batdorf & Stanley video isn’t available in the UK. All Wood and Stones isn’t on Spotify, either, but there is another Batdorf & Stanley album there called All Wood and Stones II. (I guess they were suffering from writer’s block when they came up with that title.) Needless to say there are Stones tracks on the later album, but no Satisfaction. Ironically.

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    1. Well that sucks. I wonder why the first album is being embargoed. Too bad. There are really nice versions on there. The 2nd album isn’t bad but I felt some of the songs didn’t lend themselves as well to the gentle acoustic treatment. Maybe still worth a listen if you want to get the flavor of their style.

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  2. Love Charlies drums on this one. Otis, are you kidding me? Every time I see and hear the guy it’s goose bump city. Plus that band he had behind him. Awesome. Al Jackson Jr plays some mean skins also. (You strike me as Devo guy).

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