The Rolling Stones – 2 Classic Songs
Street Fighting Man – Beggar’s Banquet – 1968
“There’s no electric guitars on there at all. Only the bass, which I overdubbed afterwards, is electric. I placed an acoustic guitar and overloaded into a really
Early Phillips Norelco cassette recorder, which I used as a pick up. I miked into it, then placed it back in the Studio with a microphone through an extensión speaker and put i t on the tape that way. It’s picked up, but you still have the dryness and feel of an acoustic guitar. You’ve got the best of both worlds”. Keith Richards
“It was all sort of built into a little attaché case, so some drummer who was going to his gig on the train could open it up – with two little things about the size of small tambourines without the bells on them, and the skin was stretched over that. And he set up this little cymbal, and this little hi-hat would unfold. Charlie sat right in front of the microphone with it. I mean, this drum sound is massive”. Keith Richards
This song deals with civil unrest in Europe and America in 1968. There were student riots in London and Paris, and Vietnam protests in America. The specific event that led Mick Jagger to write the lyrics was a demonstration at Grosvenor Square in London on March 17, 1968. Jagger (along with Vanessa Redgrave), joined an estimated 25,000 protesters in condemning the Vietnam War.
The demonstrators marched to the American embassy, where the protest turned violent. Mounted police charged the crowd, which responded by throwing rocks and smoke bombs. About 200 people were taken to the hospital and another 246 arrested. Jagger didn’t make it to the embassy: before the protest turned violent, he abandoned it, returning to his home in nearby Cheyne Walk. Jagger realized that his celebrity was a hindrance to the protest, as his presence distracted from the cause
This was the first Stones song to make a powerful political statement, although with an air of resignation. Jagger opens the song declaring “that the time is right for fighting in the street,” but goes on to sing, “But what can a poor boy do, ‘cept sing in a rock and roll band.”
This sense of hopelessness in the face of atrocity may be why the Rolling Stones became apolitical, focusing their efforts on songs about relationships and rock n’ roll. In the process, they became very rich and beloved by members of all political persuasion.
“It was a very strange time in France. But not only in France but also in America, because of the Vietnam War and these endless disruptions…. I wrote a lot of the melody and all the words, and Keith and I sat around and made this wonderful track, with Dave Mason playing the shelani on it live. It’s a kind of Indian reed instrument a bit like a primitive clarinet. It comes in at the end of the tune. It has a very wailing, strange sound.” Mick Jagger
The song was on Rod Stewart’s first album, “Gasoline Alley”
“(I Can’t get no) Satisfaction – Out Of Our Heads – 1965
“I didn’t like it; I thought the fuzz tone was a gimmick. But we were short one song for the album, so I said ‘Well, I’ve got this one’ It was my blind spot. Hey, you can’t deny it was a great rock and roll record, but at the time I thought it wasn’t a single. It wasn’t the way I wrote it. Its like a Mickey Mouse version to me” Keith Richards
The guitar riff is similar to Martha & the Vandellas “Dancing in the Street.” Richards thought that is where he got the idea, and was worried that it was too similar.
Mick Jagger wrote all the lyrics except the line “Can’t get no satisfaction.” The lyrics deal with what Jagger saw as the two sides of America, the real and phony. He sang about a man looking for authenticity but not being able to find it. Jagger experienced the vast commercialism of America in a big way on their tours, and later learned to exploit it, as The Rolling Stones made truckloads of money through sponsorships and merchandising in the US.
“It sounded like a Folk song when we first started working on it and Keith didn’t like it much, he didn’t want it to be a single, he didn’t think it would do very well. I think Keith thought it was a bit basic. I don’t think he really listened to it properly. He was too close to it and just felt it was a silly kind of riff.” Mick Jagger
The Stones performed this on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966. The line “Trying to make some girl” was bleeped out by censors.
“People get very blase about their big hit. It was the song that really made the Rolling Stones, changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band. You always need one song. We weren’t American, and America was a big thing and we always wanted to make it here. It was very impressive the way that song and the popularity of the band became a worldwide thing. It’s a signature tune, really, rather than a great, classic painting, ‘cause it’s only like one thing – a kind of signature that everyone knows. It has a very catchy title. It has a very catchy guitar riff. It has a great guitar sound, which was original at that time. And it captures a spirit of the times, which is very important in those kinds of songs… Which was alienation. Or it’s a bit more than that, maybe, but a kind of sexual alienation. Alienation’s not quite the right word, but it’s one word that would do.” Mick Jagger