November 23, 2010

"In 'Satisfaction' I was imagining horns, trying to imitate their sound to put on the track later when we recorded."

"I'd already heard the riff in my head the way Otis Redding did it later, thinking, this is gonna be in the horn line. But we didn't have any horns, and I was only going to lay down a dub. The fuzz tone came in handy so I could give a shape to what the horns were supposed to do. But the fuzz tone had never been heard before anywhere, and that's the sound that caught everybody's imagination. Next thing I know, we're listening to ourselves in Minnesota somewhere on the radio, 'Hit of the Week,' and we didn't even know Andrew had put the fucking thing out! At first I was mortified. As far as I was concerned that was just the dub.... And I learned that lesson — sometimes you can overwork things."

That's Keith Richards, in his autobiography, "Life," learning a lesson about spontaneity and minimalism. (Page 177.)

Here's the Otis Redding version, with the horns as Richards had originally intended. Speaking of intent, I don't think Richards intended to imply a criticism of Redding's version, only to tell the story of how he produced the sound we hear on the Rolling Stones original recording. He's essentially giving himself a double compliment: 1. I imagined the full orchestration that the best soul music people of the time produced, and 2. I ingeniously used the guitar (with a Gibson fuzz tone pedal) to produce that sound and outdid them by cranking it all out quickly.

But Richards did, backhandedly, put down Otis Redding. You can overwork things


Bob_R said...

You can also under work things. I don't think Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper are going to write about those bass and guitar lines in THEIR autobiographies.

Anonymous said...

Studios are littered with bad albums made by groups that finally got that big budget.

They spent months perfecting every line and every sound, and ended up with a dead on delivery bore.

Limited finances and time in the studio can be a blessing.

traditionalguy said...

I remember No Satisfaction as the theme song of the early 60s teens before a tsunami of drugs followed by Viet Nam War changed everything forever.Thanks for the memories.

jr565 said...

Otis Redding did a lot of songs of others where his version owns their versions. Satisfaction was not one of them.

CJinPA said...

I'm curious about that Otis Redding version. Sadly the link goes to Keith's book. And I'm such an important, busy person I couldn't possibly search for it myself.

Salamandyr said...

Or maybe...

He's paying Otis Redding the compliment of saying that Otis heard the song the way it was intended to be played, and performed it that way, while also noting the simple fact that this dub he had done had turned out to be a lot cooler than he realized at the time.

Chip Ahoy said...

This was confusing. The "Here's the Otis Redding version, with the horns as Richards had originally intended" link connects to Richard's book on Amazon. Here is a YouTube video of the Otis Redding version with horns. Boy, he sure does jerk a lot. The MP3 file segment on Amazon is clearer but much shorter.

madAsHell said...

I've been a big Stones fan for years, and I would savor all their exploits in Rolling Stone magazine.....but this "Life" book is boole-$hit.

He didn't know that Johnny Depp was living in his house??

Mick has a small dick?? (....not that there's anything wrong with that!)

He didn't know that "Satisfaction" had been released?

No.....BS...he tweaked that song until he was done. Andrew Loog Oldham didn't release the song without consent.

Mr. Richards' book is full of self-promotion.

w/v: typedis.....or typedat

CJinPA said...

The Redding vesion sure does move.

Once again, the Wealthy Black Man steals the music of those working class Enlish kids.

CJinPA said...

"English" kids even.

The Crack Emcee said...

Meh. They're both great.

I've been compared to Otis Redding on stage.

Shit, I've been compared to everybody.

ndspinelli said...

I'm reading a bio of Jimi Hendrix. "Buster" as his childhood friends called him, cuckholded this buffoon [Keith Richards] and dissed the prissy Mick Jagger by hitting on Marianne Faithfull as they sat at a table. Jimi was truly a great musician, albeit very troubled. The Stones were ham n' egger musicians but big stars. Denzel Washington is a real actor, Robert Redford is a movie star.

The Crack Emcee said...


Studios are littered with bad albums made by groups that finally got that big budget.

They spent months perfecting every line and every sound, and ended up with a dead on delivery bore.

Limited finances and time in the studio can be a blessing.

Two things:

1) A bad producer can destroy the best work.

2) I, too, have seen an over-dubbing orgy sap all the life out of an album.

Being a recording artist ain't as easy as it sounds.

Fernandinande said...

I'm curious about that Otis Redding version.

There's also a (bluesy and better) Junior Wells version. And Devo's, of course.

X said...

Mick's penis problems go back to the 1970's as reported in National Lampoon: "Mick Jagger's Penis Is Shot. According to sources, the Million Dollar Dingus now looks like the thumb of a worn out Baseball Glove"

PZ said...

The horns are great! Thanks for the tip.

As a very young man, I used to tune my guitar to "Satisfaction" because that riff is on the bass E string, starting with an open (no fret) note, and the song was on the radio like every half hour.

The Crack Emcee said...


There's also a (bluesy and better) Junior Wells version. And Devo's, of course.

Devo's is the best cover of a well-known song I've ever heard - totally original. I saw a group of men tear up a kitchen because they considered it blaspheme.

Not that's called being effective!

Anonymous said...

The really funny part of Devo's version of "Satisfaction" is that you don't hear that main five-note melody (the bomp-bomp-dah-dah-dah fuzz-tone riff) until the 2:13 mark on a song that is 2:41 long -- and then they use a synth to play just three of the notes (dah-dah-dah).


Devo Ain't Got No Satisfaction (video).


Ann Althouse said...

Link now properly goes to the Otis Redding recording.


Ann Althouse said...

@Chip Thanks for posting that link. That's a live version. I've got the link going to the original studio version from Redding's album now.

Jim said...

I was thinking that Keith Richards was talking about his own dub, when he was talking about overdoing the recording.

LordSomber said...

You can both overwork and underwork things, but without hindsight it's a tough call when you're there in the studio.
One rule of thumb in the studio (and this doesn't make things particularly easier) is to consider that what you're recording will probably outlive you in some shape or form; can you live with it?

"Eh, it wasn't the perfect guitar part, but it was good enough."

Memento mori.

LordSomber said...

Devo auditioning 'Satisfaction' for Mick Jagger:

"Mark and I went and [Mick] sat in a chair drinking wine," Casale continues. "It was really scary, because what if he didn't like it? We would have been so crushed, crestfallen. After about 30 seconds, he got up, put the wine on the mantle of the fireplace -- this wasn't just any lawyer's office, this was big time. It was cold and raining outside and the fire was going and he started dancing around in front of the fireplace going 'I like it! I like it!' We were like 'Oh f---. It's Mick Jagger and he's dancing and saying "I like it."' It was great."

Penny said...

This song and this sound were perfect pitch for the times. It was an "anthem" for many of us, myself included. An anthem for what, or against what, we didn't know exactly. All we knew is that we were "feelin' it".

Penny said...

Apparently, Otis Redding and the Stax Record execs were "feelin' it" too. Their version of "Satisfaction" was released the same month as the Stones' version.

Ha ha That didn't give them much time to "overwork". Instead, they were just trying to christen the song as an R&B tune. Obviously that didn't work out as they hoped.

Why? Because the times...they were a changin'.

William said...

The Rolling Stones were all about excess and satiation, and Otis Redding didn't exactly lead a life of quiet desperation. What kind of insight do these lounge lizards have into the world of sexual frustration? Charley Sheehan has the definitive version of this song.