Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Satisfying Single

Five and a half years ago, Rolling Stone named it the #2 greatest rock 'n' roll song of all time.

Considering that nothing has been recorded and released since that time that could even remotely be considered a threat to it, I have to assume that the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" is still the second–greatest song in Rolling Stone's opinion, second only to Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," which was released the following month.

Oh, did I mention that today is the 45th anniversary of the commercial release of "Satisfaction?" It became the first — and perhaps the greatest — #1 hit in the Stones' storied career.

I guess a lot of songs could be said to be Vietnam era songs, but "Satisfaction" seemed to grab the unofficial title when it was prominently used in the 1979 film "Apocalypse Now."

I've wondered which song the individual Stones would pick as representative of the Vietnam era. I'm inclined to doubt that Keith Richards would name "Satisfaction." He didn't seem to think there was anything special about it. The song's famous, distinctive guitar riff wasn't unique in the Stones' repertoire, he insisted, saying that "there is only one song — it's just the variations you come up with."

I have heard — although I've never been able to prove — that Mick Jagger once said he would rather be dead than still singing "Satisfaction" when he was 40. Maybe he did, but he seemed to come to appreciate the role the song played in his success. It was "the song that really made The Rolling Stones," he said, "changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band."

Over the years, it has become such a favorite of Rolling Stones audiences that it practically takes an act of God to prevent the Stones from playing it in their concerts. But I was present once when the Stones didn't play it — even though Jagger was not yet 40.

It was a rainy Halloween weekend in Dallas, and a friend of mine and I had obtained tickets to a Stones show in the Cotton Bowl. It had become routine for the Stones to play "Satisfaction" as their final song at the shows on their North American tour. But, on that occasion, it was raining so much and the speakers were making snap, crackle and pop sounds — and someone, perhaps someone in the band, perhaps someone in the offstage entourage, decided it wasn't safe to continue.

It was the only show on the tour that did not have "Satisfaction" as its finale.

I was disappointed that I never got to hear the Stones play "Satisfaction."

But I was pleased that its absence made the show I saw unique.