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Music

The classic Rolling Stones song that Keith Richards wrote in his dreams

Famously, Paul McCartney woke up from a slumber with the melody for ‘Yesterday’ planted in his head. For a month, he was confident the song must already exist before finally accepting it came to him in a dream. Intriguingly, this is more common than you’d think, and The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards is another artist who has a dream to thank for one of his most famous creations.

In 1965, The Rolling Stones undertook their first US tour, and every night was more chaotic than the last. One particularly troubling evening came at the Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater, Florida. The Stones only got the chance to play four songs before they were forced to leave the stage because of a skirmish between fans and police officers.

Although there was one silver lining for Richards that night, even though he didn’t manage to fulfil the wishes of the 3,000-strong crowd, he accidentally created the spine for The Rolling Stones’ career-defining anthem ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’.

After managing to get his head down for a few hours, Richards awoke, and thankfully, he had a recording device in his hotel room that allowed him to tape a demo before returning to sleep. It’s impossible not to wonder how many potential classic songs have fallen to the wayside because artists didn’t have a similar piece of equipment nearby.

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Recalling the song’s incarnation, Richards said: “I woke up in the middle of the night and put it down on a cassette. I thought it was great then. Went to sleep, and when I woke up, it appeared to be as useful as another album track. It was the same with Mick too at the time, you know. It goes ‘da-da, da-da-da’…, and the words I’d written for that riff were ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’.”

Little did he know, Richards had just created a track that would forever be intrinsically linked to the band’s career. Mick Jagger later said of the track: “It was the song that really made the Rolling Stones, changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band… 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.”

Initially, Richards felt it would be a standard album track and filler, but his prediction couldn’t be any further from the truth. Jagger put this inaccurate forecast down to his bandmate being “too close” to the song, which prevented him from appreciating the moment of genius.

Astonishingly, the song was released a month after the riff came to Richards in a hotel room in Florida, and it soon nestled its way to the top of the US chart. ‘Satisfaction’ was also their first track to achieve this feat in the States, and it played an immeasurable role in The Stones replicating their success in their native land on the other side of the Atlantic. In a parallel universe, Richards sleeps through the night, and the band’s fate shapes up starkly different.

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