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How Mick Jagger Explained the ‘Dirtiest Line’ in ‘Satisfaction’

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When the now-classic Rolling Stones song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was released a half-century ago this weekend, TIME barely noticed. It wasn’t until September that the single got a quick mention on the listings page, the weekly round-up of what was new in TV, movies and music. “The Stones manage to sing with nervous intensity and snigger at the same time,” the critic noted in the three-sentence capsule review.

By the time the song was next mentioned, in 1966, it had sold 4.5 million copies. But not everyone was happy about that. The reason it had come up was as part of a trend story about how radio DJs were dealing with the fact that rock music, using the mysterious trick of “hip teen talk,” was sneaking inappropriate language onto the airwaves. When it wasn’t clear just what a singer was saying, how were DJ’s to know what was OK to play? Case in point: The ‘Satisfaction’ line about “trying to make some girl.” Some stations bleeped it; some didn’t play the song; some insisted that singer Mick Jagger wasn’t enunciating well enough for them to know what to do.

Portrait of the Rolling Stones When They Were Young and Dangerous

The Rolling Stones perform on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1965.
The Rolling Stones (from left: Wyman, Jones, Jagger, Richards and Watts) perform on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1965.John Loengard—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jagger, the article explained, got a kick out of the question:

But, gloats Jagger, “They didn’t understand the dirtiest line.” That is the one where the girl pleads: “Baby, better come back later next week ’cause you see I’m on a losing streak.” Says Jagger: “It’s just life. That’s what really happens to girls. Why shouldn’t people write about it?” Why, indeed. Says one record promoter: “The kids with the clean songs are having a hard time coming up with hit songs.”

Read a 1989 cover story about the Rolling Stones, here in the TIME Vault: Rock Rolls On

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com