July 10, 1965: Rolling Stones’ ‘Satisfaction’ Hits #1

Share This:

Can later generations even comprehend what it felt like for those growing up back then as the summer of 1965 was in full bloom and The Rolling Stones truly arrived in America by scoring their first chart-topper with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” on July 10, 1965.

If you were at all interested in popular music there was one place we all went to hear the latest songs: Top 40 AM radio.

You generally bought your music at one of the few national chain stores like Woolworth’s or a hi-fi shop. The 45 RPM single was the common musical currency; albums were a luxury item. You generally listened to it on a transistor radio – a fairly recent technological innovation. Or the car radio that also made recorded music portable. Or maybe, usually if the old folks were out, the high-fidelity record-player and radio consoles that were a substantial piece of furniture in the living room. Really loud.

portsmouth+herald+june+3+1965The Beatles had arrived a year-and-a-half earlier to sweep away the national shock and malaise that followed the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. And reinvigorate the aura of youthfulness and a luminous future he’d infused into the popular consciousness – four shiny, happy guys in matching suits playing and singing music so rich with verve and luster it was irresistible.

Then came the Fab Four’s flipside: The Stones with their mismatched outfits, long hair a bit more mussy, their blues music roots conveying a sizzling frisson of danger.

At first listen it was an epiphany, a bolt of lightning that not just illuminated the landscape but in one unrestrained blast of energy changed it forever. Two cracking Keith Richards electric guitar E-notes through his newly acquired Maestro Fuzztone FZ-1. Then in strides Bill Wyman’s bass counterpoints to the song’s riff that came to Keef in a dream. Six beats later Charlie Watts snaps in with a drum beat that trots and swings its hips in a beat you just wanna dance to. A faint slashing acoustic rhythm guitar starts to sneak in….

Then Mick Jagger coos in a slightly fey if not androgynous voice: “I can’t get no… satisfaction.” If you were one of the millions of guys and girls anywhere within hailing distance of puberty, you knew exactly what he was singing about.

Three simple chords, E-D-A, with a B7 accent each time ’round, yet the band swoops, darts and swirls to draw out all their melodic possibilities in just shy of four minutes. Jagger struts through a spectrum of impassioned emotions. It was, in a word with two ante-upping modifiers, utterly and completely perfect. Right on time, thoroughly of its time, and so right for the time. Hey, hey, hey!

Related: The Rolling Stones in Mono; Interview with ABKCO Records’ chief audio engineer

For its four weeks to follow atop the Billboard Top 100 and beyond, “Satisfaction” was everywhere, bigger than the most viral meme, literally in the atmosphere via radio waves and in the air though many millions of magnetic coned speakers.

Fourteen years later the landscape had shifted and changed time and again. Yet on August 15, 1979, the opening day of Apocalypse Now, in the scene in which the PBR Streetgang surfs up the river, once again, “Satisfaction” was perfect. Getting the kid dancing. Uniting black and white in delight. as it did when it coincided with the first anniversary of President Johnson signing the Civil Rights on July 2, 1964. And it still carried whiffs of foreboding and the dangers that lay waiting further up the river.

At some point today do yourself a favor and just take three minutes and forty-three seconds out of your day. If you were born just about anytime after 1960, try to insert yourself into the atmosphere of season four of “Mad Men”… and really listen to “Satisfaction.”

As I contend that music is qualitative not quantitative, I shy away from saying it’s the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song ever; way too many others vie for that title. But whenever it plays, hell yeah it’s The Greatest. Just like the other Greatest of that time: Muhammad Ali neé Cassius Clay – who had TKO’d Sonny Liston in their second bout in the first round to retain his belt as Heavyweight Champion of the World some two months before “Satisfaction” topped the chart – dancing like a butterfly and stinging like a bee in the ring in his prime, young, beautiful, poetic yet primal, rebellious, alluring, graceful yet menacing.

Five decades later, it remains a paragon of perfection, as classic as a rock song can be, and not just timeless but beyond that to sound even better than ever a half century after it ruled the airwaves – the Heavyweight Champion Rock Music Single of The World, again, whenever it plays. Hey, hey, hey, that’s what I say.

Tickets for the Stones’ tour are available here and here.

  • Sign up for the Best Classic Bands Newsletter

Rob Patterson
Share This:

5 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. dennisl59
    #1 dennisl59 10 July, 2018, 10:14

    The last time I heard the song(a few weeks back), I was walking thru my local Walmart on a Saturday morning and it was playing on the overhead system. Still the greatest ever made. “He can’t be a man, ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me…”. Nothing else to say…

    Reply this comment
  2. Berns
    #2 Berns 11 July, 2018, 02:39

    That summer I would play it on the old Magnavox on repeat 7or 8 times a day.

    Reply this comment
  3. Stuart
    #3 Stuart 11 July, 2019, 07:41

    With Satisfaction suddenly everyone was listening to the Stones. That took away some of the excitement for me. I’m much more likely to turn up the volume on The Last Time when it comes on.

    Reply this comment
  4. jminfouras
    #4 jminfouras 11 July, 2019, 10:53

    I was just about twenty years and Satisfaction came !!
    A few weeks later came “Like a rolling stone”.
    Can you imagine this summer ??

    Reply this comment
  5. wernersaurus
    #5 wernersaurus 11 July, 2020, 06:01

    Remember one of my school mates brought the single to school one day – grade 10 I think – and promptly got sent to detention!
    Had to get home and listen to Radio Luxembourg instead – the only source we had in Switzerland back then to be up-to-date on that “new” music!

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.