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Credit: Marcel Antonisse

Music

Mick Jagger names his three favourite covers of 'Satisfaction'

@TylerGolsen

The Rolling Stones have carved out a career defined by an almost endless parade of classic tunes. Songs like ‘Start Me Up’, ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll’, ‘Miss You’, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, and ‘Brown Sugar’ have so thoroughly penetrated pop culture that it’s almost to watch a film trailer or go to a sporting event without hearing one of their selections. But if there’s one song from their catalogue that can lay claim to being the band’s signature song, it would be ‘Satisfaction’.

Much like The Who with ‘My Generation’ or The Kinks with ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘Satisfaction’ is the one track among a litany of legendary songs that edges out all the rest. It made the band global rock stars, established their rougher and bluesier edge, and today it’s just about the only song to have a permanent place in the group’s setlist.

As such, ‘Satisfaction’ has also become a favourite track for artists to cover. Its simple structure, memorable riff, and catchy chorus all make it easy to learn, while its recognition makes it a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Bands like Devo have the Residents have made anarchic reworkings of the tune, and it remains a favourite live cut for a number of artists.

When answering questions from fans at the BBC back in 2007, Mick Jagger was queried as to what his favourite Rolling Stone cover was. The first two answers are right in Jagger’s wheelhouse, but the third is a bit of a surprise.

“I think Otis Redding’s ‘Satisfaction’ has got to be in there,” Jagger stated. “Aretha Franklin did a quite good version of ‘Satisfaction’ as I recall as well. Erm, and then… after that I can’t remember. Britney Spears did a good version of ‘Satisfaction’.”

Redding’s take, featured on 1965’s Otis Blue, is its own manic reinterpretation. Redding famously couldn’t remember most of the words, and the lyrics sheet written out for him by producer and session guitarist Steve Cropper wound up on the floor by the time the tape rolled. The result is gleefully shambolic, honing in on Redding’s frantic energy. The track was closer to how Keith Richards originally wanted the song to sound, complete with a horn section belting out the signature riff.

Franklin’s cover was the lead-off track to her 1967 LP Aretha Arrives, a criminally underrated album that has the unfortunate reality of being sandwiched between two all time great records: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You and Lady Soul. The song would occasionally make appearances in her live repertoire throughout the ’60s.

Spears’ take is perhaps one of the more divisive covers of the past 20 years. There was a fair amount of bellyaching at the time that the classic rock and roll tune was remade as an overproduced teenybopper pop song, but hearing it now just sounds absolutely hilarious. It’s kind of daring that Spears would take on such a classic and rearrange it so drastically into her own style, but kudos to her for taking a risk.

Check out all three covers down below.