The Chuck Berry Song That Inspired the Rolling Stones’ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’
Chuck Berry is one of the heroes of early rock ‘n’ roll. His music still sounds fresh today. In addition to being a great artist on his own, he also inspired greats like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Berry’s bluesy sound provided a clear template for Mick Jagger and company. A blues influence can be heard in many of the Rolling Stones’ biggest hits, like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” This raises an interesting question: Did one of Berry’s songs inspire “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction?”
Did Chuck Berry inspire an iconic Rolling Stones lyric?
The lyric “I can’t get no satisfaction” is one of the most famous in the history of rock music. Just reading it will cause some fans to think of the song’s distinct guitar riff. Of course, all great art has predecessors. Mick Jagger noted the line had a precursor in the lyrics of “Thirty Days” by Berry.
Jagger gave an extended interview with Jann S. Wenner in Rolling Stone back in 1995. Wenner asked Jagger about the origin of “Satisfaction.” “Well, Keith [Richards] wrote the lick. I think he had this lyric, ‘I can’t get no satisfaction,’ which, actually, is a line in a Chuck Berry song called ‘Thirty Days.’”
Jagger got his facts wrong in the interview. “Thirty Days” includes the lyrics “If I don’t get no satisfaction from the judge/I’m gonna take it to the FBI and voice my grudge.” The former lyric is similar to the line “I can’t get no satisfaction” but it’s not identical. Of course, that doesn’t preclude Berry’s song from having influenced the Stones’ lyrics.
Jagger said he was unfamiliar with the song when it was written but Richards may have heard it. “I didn’t know it, but Keith might have heard it back then, because it’s not any way an English person would express it. I’m not saying that he purposely nicked anything, but we played those records a lot.” Jagger also said “I can’t get no satisfaction” was simply “one little line” of the song, the rest of which was written by him.
Keith Richards and Chuck Berry
Jagger was uncertain if “Satisfaction” took influence from “Thirty Days.” However, the book Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones reports Richards was directly inspired by Berry’s song. Interestingly, the song was originally a folk song. In addition to taking influence from Berry, Richards sees Berry as a huge influence on all rock guitarists.
He wrote in Rolling Stone “Chuck is the granddaddy of us all. Even if you’re a rock guitarist who wouldn’t name him as your main influence, your main influence is probably still influenced by Chuck Berry. He is rock & roll in its pure essence.” Berry deserves credit not just for his own work, but for inspiring so much great music.