Most Oklahoma summers are hot, of course, but one summer in particular can be seen as likely the hottest when it came to heating up the charts with some of the greatest single rock recordings ever.
That would be the summer of 1965.
It would be the last summer before rock albums began to eclipse the rock singles as the music’s favored currency among fans.
A number of the songs released as singles that summer went on to achieve iconic status — and even some that didn’t reach that number one plateau are now considered among the best recordings ever made.
The Beatles song “Help!” was making yet another trajectory up the charts for the Fab Four and would hit the top spot in August. Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” would reach No. 2 that summer.
A then-new group called The Byrds were about to score a number one hit with their electric version of Dylan’s song “Mr Tambourine Man” — rocking up the song and singing only one of Dylan’s four verses, supposedly because the group’s 12-string guitarist Roger McGuinn liked the line “wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin’.”
Others with hits that summer included The Yardbirds, a band with a guitar lineup that consisted at various times of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Representing Motown were the Supremes and the Four Tops, whose recording of “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) hit number one for two nonconsecutive weeks, separated by a week in the middle when The Byrds flew to the top of the charts.
Even songs that didn’t make it to No. 1 have gone on to attain iconic status. The Beach Boys had hit the top spot near the end of May with Brian Wilson’s “Help Me, Rhonda” and would soon score another 1965 hit with “California Girls.”
Still, the heart of the summer of 1965 belonged to a British band — and it wasn’t The Beatles.
It may be difficult for some younger music lovers to comprehend, but there was a time when The Rolling Stones were considered just another British Invasion band, one among many who were swept onto the American music charts in the wake of The Beatles debut in America a year earlier.
Sure, the Stones had scored some hits already — but so had Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, The Searchers, The Swinging Blue Jeans and many more.
The Stones, at that time, couldn’t even lay undisputed claim to being the best blues-based band out of England, with the Animals and their singer Eric Burdon lending his robust vocals to songs such as “The House of the Rising Sun”, “Boom Boom”, “I’m Crying”, “Bring It On Home to Me” and others.
Earlier American chart successes for the Stones included songs such as “Tell Me”, “Time Is On My Side”, “It’s All Over Now”, “Heart of Stone” and “The Last Time” — but they’d not seen success anything like the song that ruled the number one spot for four weeks during July 1965 achieved for them.
It opened with a distorted “dirty” guitar sound I had only heard once before — on the Marty Robbins song “Don’t Worry.”
But Robbins’ song had been a slow, soulful, ballad. Keith Richard’s riff used to open their Stones’ song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” consisted of only five notes — Dum-dum, dum-dum dum — but it ripped through the grooves with an urgency that signaled this was the beginning of something completely different.
Bill Wyman’s bass played a counterpoint to Richards’ lead while Brian Jones joined in on rhythm guitar, and drummer Charlie Watts added the rock-steady drumbeat that’s such an integral part of the recording. He later said he was inspired by the drumbeat from Roy Orbison’s 1964 hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman.”
Once “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was heard, it was hard to get it out of your head. Fittingly, the American version of the Rolling Stones record album containing “Satisfaction” was titled “Out of Our Heads.”
The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts on July 10, and remained locked in the top spot for the weeks of July 17, July 24 and July 31 — meaning that it also spilled over into August as the number of song in the nation.
The Stones held onto the top spot despite strong competition from The Beatles, Dylan, The Beach Boys, The Four Tops and others.
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” still sounds fresh today, these many years after it first hit the airwaves. I later learned the song’s title was inspired by the Muddy Waters song, “I Can’t Be Satisfied.”
Other records in 1965 would hold down the No. 1 spot for multiple weeks later that year, such as “I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher, along with “Help!” and “Yesterday” by The Beatles, “I Hear a Symphony” by The Supremes and “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” by The Byrds. The Stones would even do it again that November, when their followup, “Get Off of My Cloud”, held down the top spot for two straight weeks.
Still, with the exception of “Yesterday” — which has a movie titled after The Beatles song playing in wide release this week — Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”, and The Beach Boys’ “California Girls”, few other songs from 1965 remain as iconic today as they were when they were first unleashed those many summers ago.
Nothing gets a Rolling Stones concert crowd fired up like that opening riff composed by Richards.
It’s ironic that a song titled “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is still satisfying rock and blues music lovers so many years after its initial release.
Hey, hey, hey!
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org