Study Guide

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction Introduction

In a Nutshell

As the age-old saying goes, "A rolling stone gathers no moss." And with the wrap-up of a 50 and Counting anniversary tour, the Rolling Stones proved half a century later that while they had gathered a few more wrinkles, they weren't gathering no moss. 

Don't mind our double negative. It flies in rock and roll.

"(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction" was the first Rolling Stones song to reach #1 in America, and with the 1965 hit, the band broke through a barrier and became, in Mick Jagger’s own words, "a monster band" (source). Rolling Stone magazine went even further in praising the song, declaring "Satisfaction" the second greatest song of all time. According to the magazine, the song "turned rock and roll into rock," and voiced the edgy discontent of a generation "impatient to inherit the earth." (Source)

A song this important begs some questions. What inspired it, aside from a groggy Keith Richards punching record in the middle of the night to lay down a riff and a grammatically-incorrect grievance? 

Well, the song introduced a more hard-edged music for a generation with an edge of its own. It's the embodiment of angst and critiques America's shallow obsession with consumerism. We have to ask, what happened to the generation it came to represent? Did the "alienation" (source) that Jagger said informed the song ever morph into a more fulfilling social philosophy? And did Richards, Jagger, and the fans who embraced the song ever get their satisfaction? When asked this question during a '69 press conference, Jagger's response was, "Sexually satisfied. Financially satisfied. Philosophically trying" (source).

Well, as the Rolling Stones also say, you can't always get what you want.

About the Song

ArtistRolling Stones, The
Year1965
LabelDecca
Writer(s)Keith Richards, Mick Jagger
Producer(s)Andrew Loog Oldham
Musician(s)Mick Jagger (lead vocals), Keith Richards (guitar, vocals), Brian Jones (guitar), Charlie Watts (drums), Bill Wyman (bass guitar), Jack Nitzche (tambourine, piano)
Learn to playTablature
AlbumOut of Our Heads

Music Video

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Influences on Rolling Stones, The

Jimmy Reed
Muddy Waters
Little Walter
T-Bone Walker
Chuck Berry
Earl Phillips
Bo Diddley
Fats Domino
Elmore James
Howlin' Wolf

Influenced by Rolling Stones, The

Sex Pistols
David Bowie
Aerosmith
Guns & Roses
Foo Fighters
The Flamin Groovies

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction Resources

Books

Stanley Booth, The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones (2000)
This book traces the band from its beginnings, but the real center of this book is 1969, when rock journalist Booth traveled with the Stones on their tour. That pivotal year, which included both Brian Jones' death and the disastrously violent Altamont Speedway Free Festival concert, gets the star treatment in this volume. Although the book may focus on a later period than some readers would like, it is far and away the best book on the Stones.

Keith Richards, Life (2010)
If you are interested in the man behind the riff, you will not be disappointed by this memoir. Described by the critics as "rollicking and raw," "gossipy, profane, and moving," and "one of the greatest rock memoirs ever," the book is already being labeled a classic.

Albums

The Rolling Stones (1964)
The band's first album and a clear reflection of the Stones' R&B convictions. Includes songs by a catalog of who's who in American blues and R&B history—Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, Slim Harper, Chuck Berry, and Rufus Thomas.

Out of Our Heads (1965)
The album on which "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" appears.

Aftermath (1966)
The Stones' first album that contained all original songs, including the hit singles "Paint it Black" and the classic "Under My Thumb." It's something of a crossroads album: the band's R&B/Blues roots are still evident, but there's an indication of the psychedelia to come in 1967 with Their Satanic Majesties Request.

Beggars Banquet (1968)
After a misstep with Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Stones rediscover themselves with what some consider to be their best album. Includes "Street Fighting Man" and "Sympathy for the Devil". "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was pulled from the album and released as a single. This was the last album on which Brian Jones contributed significantly.

Let It Bleed (1969)
The Stones close a tumultuous year (Brian Jones' death and the chaotic Altamont concert) with this December release. A characteristically smart-alec response to the Beatles' Let it Be, the album includes "Gimme Shelter," "Midnight Rambler," and "You Can’t Always Get What You Want."

Exile on Main Street (1972)
Rolling Stone magazine considers it the Stones' best album and the seventh greatest album of all time. Rock, blues, country, boogie, and even calypso find a place in this wide-ranging double album. The album draws its name from the Stones' flight to the south of France after they were unable to pay their taxes in England. Sort of a lame exile, but a great album.

Images

The Rolling Stones, circa 1965
Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts.

Still Looking for Satisfaction
Mick Jagger and L’Wren Scott, 2005.

The Man Behind the Riff
Keith Richards, circa 1965.

Movies & TV

The Rolling Stones: 1963-1969: Music in Review (1963-69)
There are a lot of Rolling Stone documentaries and concert films. This is not one of the best, but it does focus on the early years surrounding "Satisfaction."

Rolling Stones: Rock and Roll Circus (1968)
A television special that never made it on air, this circus-themed concert included guest appearances by Jethro Tull, The Who, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and Marianne Faithful. Great music as well as a classic snapshot of the 1960s.

Websites

Official Rolling Stones Website
This is a slick site with videos, music, news and images.

Rolling Stones "Ultimate" Fansite
This fansite provides everything from images to guitar tabs to band member family trees. Put together by meticulous, hardcore admirers, Stones fans will be thrilled with this treasure trove.

Video & Audio

"Satisfaction," the Recording
The single released in 1965.

"Satisfaction" Live
"Satisfaction" on Ed Sullivan, 1966.