As with many Rolling Stones songs, the key hook is the guitar riff : a fuzz-toned, insistent series of ascending and descending notes. One night in 1965, Keith Richards (guitars) woke up in his hotel room with a guitar riff and the lyric "Can't get no satisfaction" in his head. He turned on his tape recorder, grabbed his guitar, and banged out the opening riff of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, and went back to sleep. In the morning he listened to the tape. As he recalls, "It was 2 minutes of 'Satisfaction' and 40 minutes of me snoring”.
Later, Richards brought it to the studio where the Stones were recording. Mick Jagger (vocals) took an immediate liking to the riff, unlike Richards, who was worried it sounded too much like Martha & The Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street" [which, BTW, isn’t that obvious].
The group approached the verse with a series of increasingly urgent, tense harmonizations on the words "and I try" before exploding into the chorus: a cathartic release of all the frustration that has been building throughout the song, the opening riff reappearing in full force as Jagger half-screams the title in a manner that compels the listener to sing-shout along. The chorus then turns into a stream-of-consciousness catalog of complaints about the irritations of modern life, touring, the media, and getting laid. It returns again to the basic shout-hook before all instruments drop out, save a crunching drumbeat. Note how much of the track's texture is set by strumming acoustic guitars; also dig how on the fade-out, Jagger suddenly dips into a lower register for a few lines before shouting at the top of his range, increasing the tension yet further. The Rolling Stones, perhaps, did not realize just how potent the track was at first.
To create the final effect heard on the release, Richards ran his guitar's sound through a Gibson Maestro fuzzbox which he had just received. He thought it would sustain the sound of the guitar to assist a horn section he had planned for "Satisfaction", but the effect was not the one he desired. Reluctant to include the sound on the release, he suggested avoiding further use of the fuzzbox. The other Stones thought the distortion effect created was great and eventually won out over Richards. As for Gibson, it was the first fuzzbox effect that the makers had made, and due to the popularity of the song they'd sold out of them by the end of that year.
Jack Nitzsche worked with The Stones on this, playing piano and helping produce it. He also played the tambourine part because he thought Jagger's attempt lacked soul [!]. Nitzsche was at that time a successful producer.
The song's publishing rights, oddly enough, do not belong to any members of the Rolling Stones. In 1965, they signed a deal with an American lawyer named Allen Klein and let him make some creative accounting maneuvers to avoid steep British taxes. He ended up controlling most of their money, and in order to get out of their contract, The Stones signed over the publishing rights to all the songs they wrote up to 1969.
Richards later described his first opinion of the song : “It was just a riff. I woke up in the middle of the night, 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 any other album track. The words I'd written for that riff were “I can't get no satisfaction”. But it could just as well have been 'Auntie Millie's Caught Her Left Tit in the Mangle'.
As for the Stones’ sound, Richards claims he can hear Satisfaction's riff in half the songs the Stones have done: "I'm almost to the point now, after writing songs for so many years, that there is only one song – it's just the variations you come up with."
John Lennon once said that "the best songs are the ones that come to you in the middle of the night and you have to get up and write them down, so you can go back to sleep". Ironically, despite him having dreamt up the riff that created the hit (much like Paul McCartney dreamt up the tune for "Yesterday"), much of Richards' ideas for "Satisfaction" were eventually dropped, including the horn section he had wanted.
Available on the album "Out of our heads"