(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Out of Our Heads
B-side(s) "The Spider and the Fly"
Released 1965
Format Vinyl record
Recorded 1965
Genre Rock and roll
Length 3:45
Label London Records
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
"Get off of My Cloud"

"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is a rock song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for their band, The Rolling Stones. The song was first released as a single in the United States in May 1965, but was also featured on the American version of The Rolling Stones album, Out of Our Heads, released in July of the same year. "Satisfaction" was a smash hit, giving them their first number one in the United States. The British version of Out of Our Heads did not feature "Satisfaction", as the song was released as a single there in the August of that year — it was not orthodox practice in the United Kingdom at that time to include songs from singles on albums. The single shot to number one in the United Kingdom as well; it was the Rolling Stones' fourth UK number one.

Jagger later credited "Satisfaction" for popularising The Rolling Stones, and suggested that its success was due to its reflection of the "spirit of the times". The song's themes included sexual intercourse and anti-commercialism, causing it to be "perceived as an attack on the status quo".




During the Rolling Stones' third tour of the United States in 1965, Richards came up with the guitar riff for the song. The Stones were staying at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida for part of their tour, and one night Richards suddenly woke up, turned on a tape recorder, and promptly played on his guitar the riff that opened "Satisfaction" before returning to bed. He would later describe it as: "...2 minutes of 'Satisfaction' and 40 minutes of me snoring."[1]

Later, Richards brought it to the studio where the Stones were recording. Jagger took an immediate liking to the riff, but Richards was concerned that it sounded too much like Martha & The Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street". In an interview, Jagger later said that "I think Keith thought it was a bit basic. He was too close to it and just felt it was a silly kind of riff." Jagger proceeded to write up lyrics for the tune, trying to make a statement about the rampant commercialism that the British Stones had seen in America.[2] Richards said of the songwriting process for "Satisfaction": "Mick wrote all of the words that say anything and I wrote the hook. I woke up in bed with this riff and I thought 'I've gotta put that down.'"[3]

Richards later described his first opinion of the song: "It was just a riff. ... I woke up in the middle of the night, put it down on a cassette. I thought it was great then. Went to sleep and when I woke up, it appeared to be as useful as another album track. It was the same with Mick too at the time, you know. It goes da-da, da-da-da... and the words I'd written for that riff were "I can't get no satisfaction". But it could just as well have been 'Auntie Millie's Caught Her Left Tit in the Mangle'." It has been suggested that The Rolling Stones obtained the title lyric from Chuck Berry's "30 Days", but they have not confirmed this, indeed Berry's lyric is "I don't get no satisfaction from the judge".[2][4]



The Stones soon set about recording the song, commencing just five days after Jagger had finished the song's lyrics, on May 10 1965 at Chess Studios in Chicago. This was an all-acoustic version, and featured a Jagger harmonica solo. It was attempted again on May 11 and 12 at RCA Studios in Hollywood. This time the track gelled as Richards added the Gibson Maestro fuzzbox which he had just received. He thought it would sustain the sound of the guitar to assist a horn section he had planned for "Satisfaction", but the effect was not the one desired. Reluctant to include it on the release, he suggested avoiding further use of the fuzzbox. The other Stones thought the distortion effect created was great, and eventually outvoted Richards.[2] The later success of the song so greatly impacted sales of the Gibson fuzzbox that all available sets had been sold out by the end of 1965.[3] There exists as a bootleg the instrumental track, in which one can hear piano track which was buried in the final mix. Accounts differ as to the piano is being played by Ian Stewart or sessions player Jack Nitzsche.

Ironically, despite his having dreamt up the riff that created the hit (much like Paul McCartney dreamt up the tune for "Yesterday"), much of Richards' ideas for "Satisfaction" were eventually dropped, including the horn section he had wanted.[2]


Release and success

After recording "Satisfaction", the song was put to a band vote. The band voted to release it as their next single - the only two people voting 'no' were Jagger and Richards. It was released by London Records May 27, 1965, with "The Under-Assistant west Coast Promotion Man" as its B-side. The single made its way through the American charts, peaking on July 10 when it reached the top, displacing The Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)". "Satisfaction" held on for a full four weeks, being knocked off on August 7 by "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" from Herman's Hermits.[5] Later the song was also released by London Records on Out of Our Heads in America.[2] Despite the song's rock n' roll sound, according to "Joel Witburn Presents, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004", the song reached #19 on the Top Selling Rhythm and Blues Singles.

Oddly enough, Satisfaction was not immediately released by Decca Records in Great Britain. Decca was already in the process of preparing a live EP ,and ended up not releasing until late July, featuring "The Spider and the Fly" on the B-Side. The song peaked at number one for two weeks, replacing Sonny Bono and Cher's "I Got You Babe", between September 11 and September 25, before being toppled by The Walker Brothers' "Make It Easy On Yourself".[5]

Despite enthusiastic sales, it took a few years for any significant acclaim for "Satisfaction" from members of the musical establishment to roll in. Newsweek called the opening riff "five notes that shook the world".[6] In 1976, Britain's New Musical Express named "Satisfaction" as 7th among the top 100 singles of all time. Eleven years later, "Satisfaction" dropped to 82nd when the magazine recompiled the list into the top 150 singles of all time. In 1991, Vox listed "Satisfaction" among 100 records that shook the world. In 1999, BMI named "Satisfaction" as the 91st-most performed song of the 20th century. The following year, VH1 listed "Satisfaction" first among its "Top 100 Greatest Rock Songs".[7] That year, "Satisfaction" also finished runner-up to "Yesterday" in a list jointly compiled by Rolling Stone and MTV. In 2003, Q placed the song 68th out of its "1001 Best Songs Ever". In 2004, Rolling Stone's panel of judges which included Art Garfunkel (formerly half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel) and former Beach Boy Brian Wilson named "Satisfaction" as the second-greatest song of all time, coming in second only to Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone".[8]

It has frequently been argued that "Satisfaction" had a great impact on the success of The Rolling Stones and on their music. Jagger once said "It was the song that really made the Rolling Stones, changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band. ... It has a very catchy title. It has a very catchy guitar riff. It has a great guitar sound, which was original at that time. And it captures a spirit of the times, which is very important in those kinds of songs ... Which was alienation."[2] Richards claimed that the song's riff could be heard in half of the songs that The Rolling Stones had produced, saying that "there is only one song — it's just the variations you come up with."[3]

The song has since become a live staple at Rolling Stones live shows, and has been included on the live albums Got Live If You Want It!, Still Life (American Concert 1981), Flashpoint, and Live Licks.


Cover versions

Numerous cover versions of "Satisfaction" were produced, the most commercially successful one being Otis Redding's, whose soul version of the song appears on his album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (1966). This version replaced the guitar riffs with horns, just as Richards had originally intended. Redding's cover was recorded in July 1965, only two months after the Stones' single was released. Redding had never listened to the original, which drew inspiration from R&B singers like Redding, and changed some of the words, including singing "satisfaction" as "satisfashion".[9] Devo's take on "Satisfaction" kept the lyrics, but radically reinterpreted the music into their own somewhat choppy, "mechanical" version; it was selected by The Telegraph as one of the 50 greatest cover versions of all time.[10]

The experimental American band The Residents also recorded a radically rearranged version of "Satisfaction" as a limited edition single (200 copies in a silkscreen sleeve) in 1976 (a more commercially available version was reissued three years later). The Residents' version features multiple guitars playing a radically harmonized version of Richards' famous riff, and dispenses with Jagger's lyrics in favor of their own bizarre verses (one verse describes how the song's narrator enjoys watching a football player undergo grevious bodily harm.)[11]

In some Spanish countries several rock musicians made their versions of "Satisfaction". The most popular version was done in 1989, when Mexican rock/pop singer Gloria Trevi included her Spanish version of "Satisfaction" in her first album. Her version had strong sexual themes and became popular with a Spanish mainstream audience.

Comedy artist "Weird Al" Yankovic included the song at the end of his Rolling Stones-exclusive polka medley, The Hot Rocks Polka, on his album UHF - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff. It occupies the last 35 seconds of the polka, leading up to and forming the finale.

Icelandic singer Björk and British rock artist PJ Harvey performed a slower, heavier version of the song at the Brit Awards in 1994. Björk had previously been offered to perform with either Meat Loaf or David Bowie, but she refused, describing such a collaboration as "...two things you like, like chocolate and onions, but maybe you shouldn't cook the same dish out of it."[12]

The American children's television show, Sesame Street also rewrote Satisfaction as "I Can't Get No Cooperation", a version of the song used as part of a segment in which a child encountered problems finding others from his age group to play with.[2]

American singer/songwriter Cat Power covered the song in a radically different form on her album The Covers Record, gaining her greater media exposure. Her minimalist version strips the song down to guitar and voice, dropping the chorus all together and changing the lyrics slightly in order to be sung from a female perspective, though she has sung the chorus in live performances.

In May 2000, Britney Spears covered "Satisfaction" on her album Oops!... I Did It Again. At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Spears performed a medley of the aforementioned album's title track and "Satisfaction".

Japanese female duo BENNIE K also covered the song and their version is currently being used in a commercial for KDDI "au" cellphones.

As of 2006, the song's publishing rights do not belong to any members of The Rolling Stones. Due to a contract they had signed with lawyer Allen Klein in order to avoid exorbitant taxes in Britain, the Stones signed over the rights to every song they wrote until 1969.[2]


Lyrics and melody

The song opens with a guitar riff, launching straight into Jagger's "I can't get no... satisfaction". With the tambourine's beat, Jagger sings in a difficult to identify tone, hovering between hushed whispering commentary and a cynical protest. The verse is approached with more urgent and desperate repetitions of the phrase "and I try", and then leaps into the chorus, where the opening chords from the guitar make another appearance as Jagger half sings and half yells "I can't get no", conspicuously omitting the last word of the song's title. The song's course is then steered to a monologue where Jagger describes his irritation with the increasing commercialism of the modern world — where the radio broadcasts "useless information", and where a man goes on television to tell him "how white my shirts can be". Jagger also briefly describes the stress of being a celebrity, and the tensions with his girlfriend caused by his touring. The reference in the verse to not getting a "girl reaction" was fairly controversial in its day, interpreted by some listeners (and radio programmers) as a symbol for a girl willing to have sex. The song closes with a fairly low-key whisper of the song's title, whereupon Jagger suddenly leaps into a full shout of "I can't get no... satisfaction", repeating the final word into the fade-out.[9]

The song's lyrics were extremely controversial in their day; one critic stated that "the lyrics to this were truly threatening to an older audience. This song was perceived as an attack on the status quo". Although the song's sexual connotations were perceived as troubling, "Satisfaction" also contained negative references to aspects of commercialism and other aspects of modern culture.[3] The part where Jagger addressed his romantic troubles was particularly perceived to be overtly sexually suggestive; when the Rolling Stones performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966, the line "trying to make some girl" was censored.[2]



  1. Geyer, Gary (2002). "Keith Richards: Satisfaction, Guaranteed". Retrieved April 4 2006.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones". Retrieved April 4 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Retrieved April 4 2006.
  4. "30 Days" lyrics. Retrieved June 21 2006.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Number 1 Hit Singles of 1965". Retrieved April 4 2006.
  6. "Keith-Richards.com". Retrieved April 4 2006.
  7. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Retrieved April 4 2006.
  8. "500 Greatest Songs". Retrieved October 11 2004.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Unterberger, Richie (2006). "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  10. "They did it their way". (11 November 2004). The Telegraph.
  11. The Residents Discography: Audio 1972-1980 The Residents' version is currently available on their anthology double CD Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses.
  12. Satisfaction. Bjork.com/unity. Retrieved on September 6, 2006.
Preceded by:
"Mr. Tambourine Man" by The Byrds
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
July 10, 1965
Succeeded by:
"I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits
Preceded by:
"I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher
UK number one single
September 9 1965
Succeeded by:
"Make It Easy On Yourself" by The Walker Brothers
Retrieved from "http://localhost../../../art/a/3/j.html"

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