Posted by: Mark Nielsen | May 28, 2013

Stones’ “Satisfaction” As a Spiritual Discipline

As I sit down to write this, The Rolling Stones are in the middle of their first set at the United Center stadium in my hometown of Chicago. I’m not AT that show, of course, I just know it is happening right now.

(What did you think, I’m made of money? … Or a real-time blogger giving out their setlist and tweeting the special guests they bring onstage? Puh-lease. I’m not in that league at all… besides the cash, I lack the work ethic to get there, and the patience to stay there.)

Nevertheless, in honor of the Glimmer Twins paying a visit here, I offer this celebration of the greatest song ever in rock history: Satisfaction.

This claim is personal and unofficial, of course. According to an an official 2011 Rolling Stone magazine poll of music industry bigshots, Bob Dylan’s unrelated Like a Rolling Stone is the “Best” song of all time, with Satisfaction at #2 (and with John Lennon’s Imagine coming in at #3).


Of course, the fun and the challenge of such published polls is the debates that they give rise to, either in the mind of the reader, across the table in a bar, or in the keystrokes of netizens worldwide. But the “pros” that are polled are not of one mind with the general public, in most cases. One look at the 2500+ comments in the RS comment section of the poll will show you what I mean… with people dropping complaints about exclusions or bad rankings for the likes of Mariah Carey, or Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. But for me, Satisfaction is a true #1, while Dylan’s song is the vote that too many people made for politically correct reasons. Besides, I’m a big Dylan fan, and that song is barely in my top five among his own work.

Satisfaction, though, is the perfect blend of hooky guitar (the definitive rock instrument), memorably biting lyrics, and an overall delivery and attitude that sell the song so well that it’s like it’s a message from God himself. Which it may have been, actually– given that Keith Richards dreamed the signature opening riff, woke up, played it into a casette player (in Chicago, in May 1965), and God is known for speaking through dreams.

Young Mick and Keith

Young Mick and Keith

Which leads me to the second purpose for this post: a whimsical use of the song’s lyrics as guidelines for a short devotion or program, about the nature of human culture and the hunger for spiritual satisfaction with something deeper, something or someone beyond us.

If you just want to read more just about the song itself, click thru on the link above to go to the RS poll page for more factoids. But if you crave satisfaction of something more spiritual, or just want to satisfy your curiosity, read on, and reflect on the principles below, taken as talking points from the Mick Jagger lyric .

“Satisfaction” as a spiritual discipline

“He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination”

1) Isn’t it almost ALL “useless information trying to fire my imagination”? So maybe keep listening, but stop overreacting… Especially to tweets. And as for your imagination: don’t fire it, give it a raise! And keep it fired up and fed by something other than that man on the radio.

“But, he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke

The same cigarettes as me”

2) I am a man whether or not I smoke the same cigarettes as Mick or Keith, and whether or not I even smoke cigarettes at all. Only I (and God, or perhaps the holy or strong role models that I choose) should be determining the parameters for who is or is not “a man”.

“And I’m tryin’ to make some girl, who tells me
Baby, better come back maybe next week
Can’t you see I’m on a losing streak”

3) Don’t be dumb, ladies. Take a cue from this girl, who doesn’t have any interest in being Mick’s temporary source of satisfaction, his feminine “drug of choice”. She may be on a losing streak, but she’s a winner when it comes to having a functional B.S. detector regarding men.

That is it for today, fellow travelers. May you find satisfaction and inner peace.




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