Scroll down to listen to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” by the Rolling Stones (Plays in Spotify)
It’s 2001. I am nine years old and sitting in the car with my father. It’s summer, and we’re in the parking lot across from Congress Park. The windows are down and the interior of the car exhales a hot, stale breath. The radio is on.
A song starts playing that I’ve heard on the station before—I recognize the fuzzy guitar and the singer’s distinct voice. I like it, especially the rubbery, echo-y parts after the singer is done with each line. So I decide to ask a question.
“Dad, who sings this song?” I ask.
“That’s the Rolling Stones.”
For the first time, I try hard to remember the answer.
Five years later, I am standing in the middle school library in front of a quarter of the eighth grade. Beside me are four friends, equipped with guitar, drums, bass, and microphones. We have never ever played in front of people before. The drummer counts us in as we touch pick to string and hit that riff.
“Satisfaction” is no longer my favorite Rolling Stones song, and I don’t care much anymore about the lyrics or the riff. It remains, however, my first and most important aural madeleine. This song contains so much—it’s a song of beginnings, of milestones, of childhood and middle school and my old guitar amp and the brown carpet in the library and my dad’s 1998 Volkswagen Jetta. It belongs to the Rolling Stones, and it belongs to the 1960s, but it also belongs to me. It is embedded in my very being.
So please, just play it. One time. For me.