Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: May 1965 Recording location: RCA Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Producer: Andrew Oldham Engineer: Dave Hassinger
Performed onstage: 1965-69, 1971-72, 1976, 1978, 1981-82, 1989-90, 1994-95, 1997-99, 2002-03, 2005-07, 2012-17
Bass: Bill Wyman
Acoustic guitar: Keith Richards or Brian Jones
Electric guitar: Keith Richards
Lead vocal: Mick Jagger
Background vocals: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Piano: Jack Nitzsche
Tambourine: Jack Nitzsche
It was just a riff. I didn't think... I didn't think of it as... 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 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... (We wrote it in) Tampa, Florida, by a swimming pool.
Keith wrote the lick. I think he had this lyric, I can't get no satisfaction, which, actually, is a line in a Chuck Berry song called 30 Days... I can't get no satisfaction from the judge... (T)hat was just one line, and then I wrote the rest of it. There was no melody, really.
I remember vividly making Satisfaction. It was at RCA in Los Angeles, in the same studio where Duke Ellington recorded one of the greatest records he ever made, Ellington Uptown, with Louie Bellson on drums: that's the famous A Train track. Dave Hassinger, the engineer, used to smoke Tiparillos constantly. He seemed a lot older, like a man, while we were still boys. And LA was like Wow!.
(T)hat riff needed to sustain itself and Gibson had just brought out these little (distortion) boxes so... But the riff was in essence not meant for the guitar. Otis Redding got it right when HE later recorded it because it's actually a horn riff. I never thought that was song was commercial anyway. Shows how wrong you can be.
Whatever it was, it was the first (fuzztone box) 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 shit 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.
I didn't think much of Satisfaction when we first recorded it. We had a harmonica on then and it was considered to be a good B-side or maybe an LP track.
With Satisfaction I got the fuzz tone and I thought we'd already finished all the tracks that we wanted to cut. So this was just a little sketch, because, to my mind, the fuzz tone was really there to denote what the horns would be doing. But Andrew spotted the spirit of the track and we were already back on the road before we heard that they'd decided that Satisfaction was going to be the single. We had thought we were going to cut a better version. It was still not fisnished as far as we were concerned, but sometinmes an artist's skcetches are better than the finished painting, and that's probably one of the perfect examples.
After we listened to the master, we discussed whether or not it should be the next single. Andrew and Dave Hassinger were very positive about it, so we put it to the vote. Andrew, Dave, Stu, Brian, Charlie and I voted yes, while Mick and Keith voted no. It became the next single by the majority vote.
I never heard the damn lyrics to Satisfaction for years. They kept telling me to bring the voice down more and more into the track. I thought they were crazy. I didn't know it had to do with the lyric and getting radio play.
Girlie action was really Girl reaction. The dirtiest line in Satisfaction they don't understand, see? It's about You better come back next week cause you see I'm on a losing streak. But (people) don't get that. It's just life. That's really what happens to girls. Why shouldn't people write about it?
People get very blasť 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...
I remember hearing Satifaction on the bus radio. I was enjoying the fact that people like Otis Redding covered it. And when we play it today live we still have that essence of the soulful treatment that Otis gave Satisfaction.
I couldn't sit down and write anything like I can't get no, no, no, no... any more. All that was a bit adolescent, but the sense is still true.
I can play Satifaction today or tomorrow and still find new stuff in there, and little nuances. And the way to play it with these guys, you know, which is important. Because you never play it the same twice... Songs are difficult things to talk about because you never know where they start. And then when you've been playing them for 30 odd years (laughs) you're never quite sure where they end either. They keep changing on you.
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.