Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

I’ve seen the Stones twice…once in 1997 and another time in 2006. If they would not have played Satisfaction it would not have bothered me in the least. Don’t get me wrong….it’s a great song…an iconic song but they could have subbed Happy or All Down The Line and I would have been happy. That is the way I felt at the time…but looking at it now…yea they are identified with this song. You probably could call it their signature song. This song made them international stars.

On May 6, 1965, The Rolling Stones played to about 3,000 people at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater, Florida while on their first US tour. That night, Keith Richards woke up in his hotel room with the guitar riff and lyric “Can’t get no satisfaction” in his head. He recorded it on a portable tape deck, went back to sleep, and brought it to the studio that week. The tape contained his guitar riff followed by the sounds of him snoring…no he doesn’t still have the tape.

The guitar riff is similar to Martha & the Vandellas “Dancing in the Street.” Richards thought that is where he got the idea, and was worried that it was too similar.

Mick Jagger wrote all the lyrics except the line “Can’t get no satisfaction.” The lyrics deal with what Jagger saw as the two sides of America, the real and phony. He sang about a man looking for authenticity but not being able to find it. Jagger experienced the vast commercialism of America in a big way on their tours, and later learned to exploit it, as The Rolling Stones made truckloads of money through sponsorships and merchandising in the US.

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, The Uk…but…Canada was the rebel of the bunch…it peaked at #3 there.

Keith Richards about the Fuzzbox: “It was the first one Gibson made. I was screaming for more distortion: This riff’s really gotta hang hard and long, and we burnt the amps up and turned the s–t up, and it still wasn’t right. And then Ian Stewart went around the corner to Eli Wallach’s Music City or something and came around with a distortion box. Try this. It was as off-hand as that. It was just from nowhere. I never got into the thing after that, either. It had a very limited use, but it was just the right time for that song.” 

Mick Jagger: “It sounded like a folk song when we first started working on it and Keith didn’t like it much, he didn’t want it to be a single, he didn’t think it would do very well. I think Keith thought it was a bit basic. I don’t think he really listened to it properly. He was too close to it and just felt it was a silly kind of riff.” 

Mick Jagger: “People get very blasé about their big hit. It was the song that really made The Rolling Stones, changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band. You always need one song. We weren’t American, and America was a big thing and we always wanted to make it here. It was very impressive the way that song and the popularity of the band became a worldwide thing. It’s a signature tune, really, rather than a great, classic painting, ’cause it’s only like one thing – a kind of signature that everyone knows. 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. Or it’s a bit more than that, maybe, but a kind of sexual alienation. Alienation’s not quite the right word, but it’s one word that would do.” 

From Songfacts

Richards was staying at the Fort Harrison Hotel (known at the time as the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel) when he rolled out of bed with the idea for this song. The hotel still exists. In 1975, it was bought by the Church of Scientology and frequently hosts religious retreats.

This was released in the United States on June 6, 1965, just a month after Keith Richards woke up with the guitar riff in his head. In the UK, it wasn’t issued until August 20, since The Stones did not want to release it in England until they were there to support it. While they were touring in America, they became very popular in England, so they kept recording singles in the States to keep their momentum until they could return for a tour.

Richards ran his guitar through a Gibson Fuzz Box to create the distortion effect. He had no intention of using the sound on the record, but Gibson had just sent him the device, and he thought the Fuzz Box would create sustained notes to help sketch out the horn section. The band thought it sounded great and wanted to use the sound because it would be very unusual for a rock record. Richards thought it sounded gimmicky and did not like the result, but the rest of the band convinced him to ditch the horn section and use the distorted guitar sound.

There is some debate as to whether this is the first use of fuzz guitar in a rock song. Shiloh Noone sheds some light on the subject in his book Seekers Guide To The Rhythm Of Yesteryear: “Anne Margaret does have one claim to fame that embarrassingly whitewashes the rock generation, namely her studio recording of ‘I Just Don’t Understand’ which boasts the first fuzz guitar applied to wax, courtesy of Billy Strange, a one time member of Phil Spector’s session crew who later hit the charts with an instrumental version of Monty Norman’s ‘James Bond theme.’ ‘I Just Don’t Understand’ was later launched as a single by Freddie & The Dreamers and also played live by the Beatles at the Cavern. Billy Strange repeated his fuzz on ‘Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah’ (Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans). So what’s the buzz about fuzz? Well it did launch the early stages of psychedelia and boost its prime exponents The Ventures, specifically their 1962 single ‘2.000lb Bee.’ Sure-fisted Keith Richards claims he revolutionized the fuzz on the ripping ‘Satisfaction’ while utilizing his new fuzz box, yet Big Jim Sullivan used it previously on P.J. Proby’s ‘Hold Me.’ Billy Strange exalted the riff that Link Wray had already laid claim to three year previous, so what’s the fuzz?”

The Stones performed this on their third Ed Sullivan Show appearance, which took place February 13, 1966. The line, “Trying to make some girl,” was bleeped out by Sullivan’s censors, as it was a family show. Sullivan was perhaps the only host that could get away with this, as he helped launch the band in America. On their fifth appearance, Jagger agreed to sing “Let’s Spend The Night Together” as “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.”

This was included on the US version of the Out Of Our Heads album, but not the British. Putting singles on albums was considered ripping people off in England.

The stereo mix has electric instruments on one channel and acoustics on the other.

Jack Nitzsche worked with The Stones on this, playing piano and helping produce it. He also played the tambourine part because he thought Jagger’s attempt lacked soul. Nitzsche was a successful producer who worked on many early hits for the Stones, including “Get Off My Cloud” and “Paint It, Black.” He died in 2000 at age 63.

Otis Redding recorded this in 1966 at the behest of Steve Cropper and Booker T. Jones, who were part of his backing band at Stax Records. Otis hadn’t heard the song, and he didn’t like it, so he did a radically different version of the song, using horns and changing many of the words. Using horns was what Keith Richards originally had in mind for the song, and he lauded Redding’s take. His version was one of the first British songs covered by a black artist; usually it was the other way around.

The final take was recorded just five days after Richards first came up with the idea. Three weeks later, it was released as a single in the US. An instant hit, it made The Stones stars in America; it helped that they were already touring the US to support it.

There is a song by Chuck Berry called “Thirty Days” with the line “I can’t get no satisfaction from the judge.” Richards is a huge Chuck Berry fan and it is possible that this is where he got the idea for the title.

This was featured in the 1984 film Starman, starring Jeff Bridges. The movie is set on a deep space probe in the ’70s. >>

Sesame Street did a version called “(I Can’t Get No) Cooperation,” which is about a kid at school having trouble to finding someone to play jump rope or ride the seesaw.

Some of the artists who have covered this include Britney Spears and Devo. Another unusual cover was by The Residents, whose version is much more intense, with distorted, raging vocals, and a heavy guitar solo courteously of Phil “Snakefinger” Lithman. 

The Stones don’t own the publishing rights to this song. In 1965, they signed a deal with an American lawyer named Allen Klein and let him make some creative accounting maneuvers to avoid steep British taxes. He ended up controlling most of their money, and in order to get out of their contract, The Stones signed over the publishing rights to all the songs they wrote up to 1969. Klein, who died in 2009, still had to pay royalties to the songwriters, but controlled how the songs were used.

Richards says he never plays this on stage the same way twice. 

In 2006, The Rolling Stones played this at halftime of Superbowl XL. 

The phrase, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” is grammatically incorrect. It’s a double negative and really means, “I Can Get Satisfaction.” 

Keith Richards used his fuzzbox, but he also played clean guitar during the song, with Brian Jones strumming an acoustic throughout. This meant Keith had to switch between his two tones during the song, as multiple tracks were sparse back then and overdubs rare. If you listen to the song at :36 you will hear Keith switching on his fuzz with an audible click, just between Jagger’s “get” and “no.” At about 1:35, Keith is stomping his fuzz too late, slightly missing his cue, ending up playing the riff a little behind. At his next cue (2:33) he probably wants to be sure that his fuzz is on, so you can hear a short but audible fuzz note (accidentally?) played before the actual riff and slightly before Jagger’s “I can’t get.”

Despite the dig at TV advertising in this song (“When I’m watchin’ my TV, and that man comes on to tell me how white my shirts can be…”), Snickers wanted it badly for their “Snickers Satisfies” campaign, and got it for a price of $4 million, according to Allen Klein of the song’s publishing company, ABKCO. Klein said $2.8 million of that went to Jagger and Richards as writers of the song.

Further, Snickers didn’t even get the original song for their money. The commercial, which aired in 1991 used a version performed by studio musicians.

The song spent four weeks at #1 in America before getting knocked off by Herman’s Hermits “I’m Henry The VIII, I Am.” In the UK, it spent two weeks at #1, knocked off by The Walker Brothers “Make It Easy on Yourself.”

The Stones debuted “Satisfaction” on the ABC variety show Shindig! May 20, 1965, a few weeks before it was released in America. Months earlier, they had a UK #1 with “Little Red Rooster,” a song originally recorded by Howlin’ Wolf, an American bluesman who wasn’t well known in his home country. The Stones insisted that Wolf appear on the show, and they helped introduce his performance of How Many More Years.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man come on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination

I can’t get no, oh, no, no, no, hey, hey, hey
That’s what I say
I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m watchin’ my TV and a man comes on and tells me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me

I can’t get no, oh, no, no, no, hey, hey, hey
That’s what I say
I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no girl reaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m ridin’ ’round the world
And I’m doin’ this and I’m signin’ that
And I’m tryin’ to make some girl, who tells me
Baby, better come back maybe next week
Can’t you see I’m on a losing streak?
I can’t get no, oh, no, no, no, hey, hey, hey
That’s what I say, I can’t get no, I can’t get no
I can’t get no satisfaction, no satisfaction
No satisfaction, no satisfaction
I can’t get no

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

43 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

  1. This is a really great song and I have always liked it. I only saw the Stones once in 1975 at Madison Square Garden and it was a great show. The Satisfaction that I like the best is the one that they recorded in Cuba.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I appreciate you pulling this info together. I think who did what first is something guys haggle over more than females but that might be a sexist comment. Even if the story about the snoring on the tape isn’t true, I don’t blame him for building a fun tale to go with this iconic tune. I agree it has been overplayed on the air and they are probably sick of playing it, it isn’t diminished in my eyes. I love these guys and I love this song.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like it more now when thinking of the historic context of it. Like I said though it would not break my heart if they didn’t play it because…they have so many!
      Yea we love to argue about things like that…not sexist at all…it just the truth!

      I could see the snoring happening lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. p.s. Max, I think what Mick says here connects to my story today in a bit of synchronicity:
    “People get very blasé about their big hit. It was the song that really made The Rolling Stones, changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band. You always need one song. We weren’t American, and America was a big thing and we always wanted to make it here. It was very impressive the way that song and the popularity of the band became a worldwide thing. It’s a signature tune, really, rather than a great, classic painting, ’cause it’s only like one thing – a kind of signature that everyone knows…” What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I do agree…it is the signature that everyone knows by them. Start Me Up is probably in second place but it’s much deeper than that song. It ranks up there with Like A Rolling Stone by Dylan.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this song. My kids would know this one, but probably not the band (I’ve failed as father in that respects even thought they do have Stones shirts). Anyway, I never paid attention to the fact it is a double negative which makes it positive. I’ll never hear it the same way again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like the song…even more now when I think back in context…it made them really. When I’ve seen them…I knew I was going to hear it… they have so many though that it would not break my heart if they didn’t.
      Hey…they have Stones shirts so that is good! My son has Beatle, The Who, and a Dylan shirt…so I’ve tried as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Undeniably a great rock song, albeit one I think many of us are a bit burned out on. Still, like Jagger says it is their signature song and the one that made them. It’s funny, but for all the years and all the hit records, this one really is I think just that – the one song people instantly think of when they hear ‘Rolling Stones’. I mean, we might well know dozens of their other singles, but this is the first to come to mind. I don’t think the beatles had that… of course, dozens of great songs that people know but I don’t think there is ONE that just automatically pops into everyone’s head upon hearing the name.
    I’ve somewhat wanted to see them for years, more for a piece of history than anything but I’ve always heard they do put on a great show. Had a chance to do it, I guess in ’03 with Sarstock in Toronto when they were headline, but the idea of the size of that crowd (200 000 or more) standing on an old airfield, then trying to get out and get to the subways after, made me think it was not going to be worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Being a Beatles fan…I’m kinda happy that not one song defines them… I would say Hey Jude, She Loves You, and maybe All you Need is Love pops up but you are right…nothing soley defines them.

      It was worth seeing them…seeing them live I’ll tell you…They are meant for a bar…a small club…their sound is not huge. The Who are built for a stadium…Led Zeppelin was built for a stadium…Pink Floyd the same….the Stones not as much…BUT

      It is a good show all the same.

      Like

  6. I know what you mean…Satisfaction has been played to death, especially if you’re a fan of the Stones and listened to classic rock radio. It’s like “classic rock 101”. It really is a measure of its greatness, though there are lots of other Stones tunes I’d rather hear too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What impresses me about it…for a Stones song it had good lyrics….especially in that era.

      Oh by the way…was something up with your site Wednesday? I went straight to your page and the newest post was an older post.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Got knocked out of the #1 spot by ‘I’m Henry the Eighth I Am’. That made me laugh out loud. Our American music tastes do have quite a range. I like both songs. 😀

    Regarding the Stones’ sponsorship deals and schemes. In 1980-81, I remember hearing in the news that they’d signed Jovan as sponsor of their upcoming tour, and have their brand name printed on the tickets. The amount Jovan paid seemed unheard of at the time. I just looked it up and Jovan paid a mere $1 million. Wow! I can’t imagine what Jovan would have to pay for that today. Our tickets to the KC concert in 1981 were $25, and we thought that price was exorbitant. Times have changed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember that tour well BUT I wasn’t there. My being there was Hal Ashby’s Lets Spend The Night Together…and Going to a Go Go…also Time Is on My Side.
      The tour looked so colorful compared to the 70s tours…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True Max. As much as I love the live Voodoo Lounge show and Steel Wheels albums I prefer the slop rock of the Stones as Keef was doing all the backing vocals. That was the price of admission back than lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea me also! It wasn’t Keith’s idea…he wanted it to stay that way. That is why the 1972 tour…is the most in your face sloppy but awesome tour.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, “Satisfaction” certainly hasn’t suffered from underexposure, but it’s just a great song. The instantly recognizable guitar riff, the distorted sound, Charlie Watts’ drumming, the lyrics – there are many cool things about it.

    Do the Stones need to turn it into a maxi version during live gigs like they sometimes seem to do? Probably not. If I get to see the Stones a third time, which I hate to say sounds like a long shot, I wouldn’t mind if they played it. But I’d also be very happy if they played “The Last Time” instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Its a great song no doubt! But…if I see them live again I would rather hear Memory Motel or soething else…but that is just me!

      It IS great…don’t get me wrong but they have so many!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember seeing a British documentary on the history of rock. It had an old clip of a black man sitting on a bench on a rundown porch with a guitar and singing, I can’t get no satisfaction. This clip was way before the Stones. That line was the same words and tune! Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the documentary but it broadcast as a series over quite a few weeks.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I did a search for it but couldn’t find even the documentary series. I shall continue to poke around – as is my habit… No hurry (if at all) for listening – although I always appreciate your doing so.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll keep an eye out for it…it sounds like a blues doc…
        I’ll be by tonight…it will be headphone time!

        Like

  10. I saw them at AT&T stadium in Arlington Texas with my son. They did not play Satisfaction, bummer, or if they did, I was in the men’s room. My band from 2000 until 2019 played this song. Our lead player struggled with getting the fuzz box sound, since none of the new stomp boxes replicate it. He found an ancient box in a pawn shop that did the trick. No distortion or fancy crap, just dirty fuzz. It certainly made playing the song more fun after that. Back in the 60s, every guitar player had a “fuzz box” and that was the extent of our tricks until the Wah-Wah peddle came around. The Iron Butterfly’s guitar player relieved me of mine when we played a few gigs with them in 68. It was so new; the damn price tag was still attached. If Brian had lived on, perhaps the Stones would have had a different sound? Uncle Ed thought himself to be the keeper of the morals as far as rock music went. I believe every great band that appeared on his show had a run-in with him. Maybe not the Fabs, but who knows. As always Max, great stuff, man.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Phil. I use a box from 1974…it’s so raw it will cut through you passing through my Kustom cabinet. I would love to find one of those original fuzz boxes.

      We did Jumping Jack Flash, Brown Sugar, and Under My Thumb….I swear we did JJF more than the Stones did.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My first fuzz box was a small square with a male plug built in that plugged directly into my guitar. it was battery powered and made great fuzz. I later got a Big Muff, the one Hendrix used. Great effects, but no fuzzy stuff. I also had a Kustom cabinet with 6 ea 12″ speakers and two horns with a Kustom brain. It was pure overkill but loud. Back then, what you put out front was coming from what was behind you. No wonder I’m deaf. I recently saw an old blue glitter Kustom cab in a local pawn shop. It was beat up but the kid said it still worked. They were asking 400. Jeez.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A few years ago I went on a Kustom spending spree… I kept searching and found some affordable ones…they are as tough as bricks. I have around 5 heads and cabinets…I do have one red sparkle one…the rest are black. I also have a Kustom PA but…that is the one thing that they have improved….I do think PAs are better now…but I like old amps.

        Like

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