That riff – we have to start with that riff – sounds like Morse code. A harsh nonsense message, transmitted on a loop. Too much information, too much communication. Ten thousand whisperin’, nobody listenin’. “Satisfaction” is a song where people jabber at Jagger and he’s too bored or too savvy to care, but then when he tries to speak it doesn’t work either. It has a plot. In fact it’s a sitcom, Jagger’s Bad Day. The Rolling Stones were often a very funny band – the “same cigarettes” gag is sharp, smart and spiteful. And you have to smile at the way Mick Jagger starts off sounding so very polite before the comedy of irritation gets going. The band plays straight man, making sure the timing is right (and it is – those delicious seconds before “Hey hey hey”).
The jokes still ring mostly true, and the situations linger, which (oh yeah plus the riff) is why “Satisfaction” 2005 is startling even if the venom in it has long since diffused throughout pop/culture/everything. The third verse punchline – stardom equals hucksterism – may or may not have been new in 1965, I’m siding with ‘not’, but it’s the way he tells it, short words chopped shorter, stresses heaped up, “can’tcha SEE-I’M-ON”, a vocal analogue of the riff, and then the exploding, “GET NO!” The partial solution to the satisfaction problem: make your own.