The Rolling Stones
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Release Date: June 6th, 1965
Words by: Greg Webster
June 17th, 2015
Has there ever been a more recognisable guitar riff? It was just three notes and Keith Richards had only meant it to be makeshift. Originally, he had wanted the riff to be played by a horn section. Otis Redding did just that later in the same year.
Rolling Stone magazine put "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" at second on its list of the greatest songs of all time (ironically conceding the top spot to Dylan’s "Like a Rolling Stone").
"Satisfaction" was the Stones’ first US number 1 and their fourth in Britain. The song wasn't released by Decca Records in Britain until August 20 because the label were focussing on marketing the band’s recent 'live' EP.
The song came to Richards one night in a hotel room. He flicked on a tape recorder and made the demo before falling asleep. The next morning there was about 2 minutes of acoustic guitar and the rest was ‘snoring’.
"Satisfaction" was recorded on May 12, 1965 at RCA studios in Hollywood with a Gibson Maestro FZ-1 Fuzztone adding sustain. The sustain effect was so distinctive that Gibson had sold out of supplies of the fuzzbox by the end of ‘65.
Richards was reportedly screaming out for more distortion during the session: “this riff’s really gotta hang hard and long”. So Ian Stewart went around the corner to a music store and came back with the fuzzbox. The legendary song was born.
Neither Richards or Jagger thought much of the song. They certainly didn’t think it had much commercial potential - maybe a good B-side or album track. Jagger said there was no melody to speak of.
Dave Hassinger, the sound engineer, said, "they kept telling me to bring the voice down more and more in the track." It was all about trying to obscure the lyric to get airplay. Perceived as disturbing in its sexual connotations and cynicism towards commercialism, "Satisfaction" was considered a threat to an older audience.