Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's one of rock's definitive songs, with a simple but snarling riff that serves as the benchmark for everything that's followed. But "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones might never have happened if it hadn't come to Keith Richards in a dream. "I woke up in the middle of the night," the guitarist told Rolling Stone. "There was a cassette recorder next to the bed and an acoustic guitar. The next morning when I woke up, the tape had gone all the way to the end. So I ran it back, and there’s like 30 seconds of this riff — 'Da-da da-da-da, I can’t get no satisfaction' — and the rest of the tape is me snoring!"

The Stones were in the middle of their third U.S. tour, supporting The Rolling Stones Now!, with their most recent single, "The Last Time," becoming their second Top 10 hit. They were still relying heavily on R&B covers, but Richards and Mick Jagger, under manager Andrew Loog Oldham's directions, were applying themselves to songwriting more steadfastly.

On May 6, 1965, Jagger took Richards' title, which was inspired by Muddy Waters' "I Can’t Be Satisfied," and wrote lyrics in 10 minutes while resting near a hotel pool in Clearwater, Fla. He would later tell Rolling Stone that it was "my view of the world, my frustration with everything" — in particular, "Simple teenage aggression. It was about America, its advertising syndrome, the constant barrage."

Four days later in Chicago's Chess Studios, the Stones tried to recapture the magic of the previous year that resulted in the 5 X 5 EP. But all the session yielded was an acoustic version that was almost country in its style. They tried again on May 12 at RCA Studios in Hollywood and found magic with the help of Richards' recently acquired Gibson Maestro Fuzz-Tone pedal.

On the morning of May 13, 1965, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" was in the can. By November it had become, and would stay, the biggest single of the year.

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