Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Keith Richards & Brian Jones

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

Mars: Mars has an aggressive or divisive character and, among other things, represents a masculine principle (i.e. male individuals, groups of men, etc).

Uranus: Uranus has a destabilizing character, and is associated with qualities or subjects like rebellious or generally extreme behavior, inspired flashes of brilliance, very sudden changes in circumstances, and modern technology.

Conjunction: Two planets or more in a given sign can be said to be conjunct, but the term is generally used for when they are joined at the same degree, or relatively close, as it is in this article. The significations of any two or more conjunct planets are "blended" and grouped as a singular astrological force.

The Rolling Stones perform (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (2:50) May 20, 1965; Shindig!, ABC-TV, Los Angeles

In early 1965, the Rolling Stones had been together for almost three years. They started off as a rhythm & blues band, playing cover versions of old standards by people like Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters - whose song Mannish Boy featured the line "like a rolling stone", from which the group derived its name. However, on the heels of the Beatles’ international success, the Stones' manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, was pressuring guitarist Keith Richards and singer Mick Jagger to write their own material, in the more contemporary pop style of the time.

The band's other guitarist, Brian Jones, a talented multi-instrumentalist and "blues purist", was desperately fighting to maintain the group's style to its traditional format. He had been the group's original leader, but his lack of songwriting skills and unreliable behavior on tour had gradually robbed him of his influence. With Richards and Jagger now in charge, the group was having relative success with original compositions like The Last Time, though they still had not had a number one hit in America.

Sometime during the night of May 6th/7th – during the course of an American tour - Richards woke up in his motel room in Clearwater FL with a distinctive three-note "riff" (melody) in his head. He quickly played the tune into a tape recorder he kept by his bed and then went back to sleep. The next day, he played the riff for Jagger, telling him, "The line that goes with this (tune) is 'I can't get no satisfaction'". Jagger completed the lyrics within the next few days, and the soon-to-be classic song was recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood on May 12th.

Keith Richards' natal horoscope, with Mars-Uranus conjunction highlighted

Richards had originally intended his riff to be played by horns, but wound up playing it himself on the guitar, with the use of a "fuzz" effect created by a new gadget that happened to be around. This piece of equipment was among the first of its kind, and its inclusion on the recording introduced a whole new sound for the electric guitar. Today, such gadgets are standard tools for most rock guitarists. The resulting song – (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - was released as a single on June 4th, and hit number one on the U.S. pop charts on July 10th, remaining there for the next four weeks. The Stones had finally hit the big time in America.

The Rolling Stones perform (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (3:03) February 13, 1966; The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS-TV, NYC

Curiously, earlier that same day (May 6), Jones fell completely from grace in the eyes of his band mates. Having already fathered a number of illegitimate children by the time he was in his early 20s, Jones was also known to be physically abusive with women.

Brian Jones' natal horoscope, with Mars-Uranus conjunction highlighted

One night after a concert, he brought a young girl back to his hotel room. When she emerged the next morning –crying, bruised and sporting two black eyes – his indignant band mates cut him off socially, even sanctioning his beating by one of their roadies for his serious offence, from which he sustained two broken ribs. Although he would remain in the group until a month before his death in 1969, Jones' influence in the group was now completely diminished and he spent the rest of his life slowly wasting away.

Recurrence Transits

This story can be used to demonstrate the use of recurrence transits in astrology. Most astrology books and articles that discuss planetary transits to points on a natal chart usually refer to what I call "zodiacal contact". If, for instance, someone has the planet Mars at, say, the 2nd degree of Pisces in their natal chart, and the planet Uranus comes around by transit and moves to that same degree, then any astrologer will tell you that the person has just had a Uranus to Mars conjunction transit.

The Rolling Stones perform (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (5:28) in the documentary Gimme Shelter, November 28, 1969; Madison Square Garden, NYC

However, recurrence transits refer to times when specific planetary combinations, such as Mars-Uranus conjunctions, are repeated in the sky on a given day or series of days. If someone has a Mars-Uranus conjunction in their natal chart, and Mars and Uranus are conjoined at a given time, then that person’s natal conjunction gets "activated". That is, there is some form of event or set of circumstances that somehow reflects whatever the Mars-Uranus conjunction means in that person's life.

What is special about the recurrence transit is the fact that this "activation" will occur even if the transiting conjunction doesn’t make any kind of contact or aspect to a point in that person's chart. Needless to say, if someone has a recurrence transit of any kind that does make "zodiacal contact" to a given point in that person's chart, then it is likely to coincide with something really big in his/her life.

Bi-wheel: Keith Richards' natal horoscope (inside) & transits for the night he wrote Satisfaction, with both Mars-Uranus conjunctions highlighted

There was a Mars-Uranus conjunction transit at 10 Virgo on May 7, 1965; hence, both Richards and Jones were experiencing a recurrence of their natal conjunctions at this time. Five days later, sometime on May 12, 1965, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction was recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, while Mars was at 11+ Virgo, and Uranus was at 10+ Virgo--still during the Mars-Uranus Conjunction.

Bi-wheel: Keith Richards' natal horoscope (inside) & transits for the Satisfaction recording session, with both Mars-Uranus conjunctions highlighted

Stevie Wonder & Rolling Stones perform Uptight/(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (4:36) July 25, 1972; Madison Square Garden, NYC (2nd show)

Inspired Protest and Gadgetry

In Keith Richards' case, the transiting conjunction met exactly on his Midheaven (at 10 Virgo) – the horoscopic point that refers specifically to a person's "career" or "place in the world". The recurrence transit, for him, coincided with a flash of inspiration that allowed him to express himself in such a way that would distinguish him in the public eye. Even the song’s title reflects the sort of restless, protesting nature associated with the Mars-Uranus combination.

Importantly, a square aspect from his natal Moon at 7 Virgo intercepts his natal Mars-Uranus conjunction; that is, in numerical order of degrees, it comes between Mars at 8 Gemini and Uranus at 6 Gemini. As the Moon represents an unconscious, "receiving" influence in astrology, it is interesting that the song's melody came to him in his sleep. He has often stated in interviews that great songs are not "written", but "received", like an antennae picking up a signal.

The fact that he used a very new form of technological gadgetry to produce a distinct sound for the song’s recording, also finds a symbolic reference to Mars-Uranus, in that the employment of technology (Uranus) was used to create a harsh, distorted (Mars) sound.

The Rolling Stones perform (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (4:41) December 12, 1997; TWA Dome, St. Louis

Although the Beatles had included a hint of “natural” guitar feedback (which is produced when a loud electric guitar is turned to face its amplifier) on their hit song I Feel Fine (a sentiment that is pretty much opposite to not feeling "satisfied"), this was the first instance – at least in the case of a “hit” song – that a gadget that was specifically produced to create this effect was used. Of course, the Beatles song in question - which was released as a single in the last week of November 1964 – also came out during (but was not recorded during) a Mars-Uranus conjunction, but that is another matter entirely. Whether the inclusion of guitar distortion on the Beatles’ track was a direct inspiration for the Rolling Stones is unknown, but not unreasonable to presume.

Irrational Expression of Rage

Bi-wheel: Brian Jones' natal horoscope (inside) & transits for the day following his assault on a female acquaintance, with both Mars-Uranus conjunctions highlighted

For Brian Jones, his experience of the Mars-Uranus recurrence transit was, sadly, not channeled through musical innovation (though he was a tremendously innovative musician in his time). It is hard to fathom why the blonde and charismatic Jones – who, at this time, was probably one of the pop world’s most desirable sex symbols – would be impelled to express himself through violence against women. It is well documented in numerous biographies that this was a fairly regular form of behavior for him.

Keith Richards demonstrates the quick-to-anger side of his natal Mars-Uranus conjunction toward an intrusive fan during a performance of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (0:13) (Mars and Uranus were in an exact sextile on this night), December 18, 1981; Hampton Coliseum, Virgina

But again, that is another view of what a Mars-Uranus conjunction can represent in a given horoscope: a seemingly irrational (Uranus) expression of rage and even violence (Mars). It is worth noting that the planet Venus – which, as the converse force to Mars, represents a sort of feminine principle in astrology – was transiting through the last degrees of Taurus during this week, "triggering" his natal Mars-Uranus conjunction at the time of the assault, along with the recurrence transit. This added transit reflects the fact that it was a woman who unwittingly "wandered" into the path of Jones’ unstable temperament at this time.

Even if Jones had been able to control his violent impulses, this was still a pivotal and highly unsatisfying week in his life. Although the Rolling Stones had been gradually leaning towards a more "pop" direction in their sound over the past year or so, it was only with the success of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction that they moved on, more or less completely, from their R & B roots – at least until long after Jones was dead. The Stones' rising popularity following the song's success marked the real end of his grip on a band that he had, basically, started three years previously – with the explicit intention of playing traditional rhythm and blues music.

The Mars-Uranus recurrence was in an opposition aspect to Jones’ Sun (the astrological ego and creative force) at 9 Pisces, pointing to the fact that his own interests were at odds with the band’s new direction – not to mention the fact that he was thrashed and humiliated in lieu of his violent tendencies. Ironically, while Jones hated the song (he was known to obnoxiously play the melody to Popeye the Sailor Man when it was performed live), it was he – more than anyone else in the group – who truly couldn’t get any satisfaction.

Brian Jones interviewed in Charlie Is My Darling (4:21), a Rolling Stones documentary filmed in Ireland on September 3-4, 1965.

Biographical Sources:
Stone Alone by Bill Wyman & Ray Coleman (Signet, 1991) is the primary source used for dates and times of events
Other sources used:
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll: The Ultimate Guide to the Rolling Stones by James Karnbach & Carol Bernson (Facts on File, 1997)
Old Gods Almost Dead by Stephen Davis (Broadway, 2001)
Rolling with the Stones by Bill Wyman & Richard Havers (DK Publishing, 2002)
Mojo magazine, article by Paul Trynka, Rolling Stones feature issue, (#107, October 2002)

Data Sources:
* Keith Richards' birth data quoted from Astro Data Bank (Rodden Rating: A). Arthur Blackwell quotes him to Ruth F. Nobel (same from other astrologers).
* Brian Jones' birth date & place is quoted from numerous sources, including his tombstone in the case of his date, and all of the above biographical sources. Davis (p.5) states that he was born "on a winter Saturday night". 7:00 p.m. has been used arbitrarily for the purpose of this article, although any birth time on that given day would give him a Mars-Uranus conjunction. It is the author’s opinion, for both astrological and biographical reasons, that Jones had Virgo rising (which would mean he was born in the early evening), but that is, clearly, speculative.

* There is a minor conflict as to the exact time Satisfaction was recorded. Bill Wyman 's Stone Alone (p. 381), which is drawn from diaries he kept in 1965, cleary states that the recording session in Hollywood took place between 10:00 a.m. on May 12 and lasted until 2:15 the next morning. Since his account is contemporary and first hand, this book is my primary source (I arbitrarily used 8:00 p.m. for the session chart, since the song was recorded closer to, but not at, the end of the session). However, for the record, Karnbach & Bernson (p.225) state that the song was recorded during sessions that took place in Hollywood between May 11th/12th. Davis claims (p.124), "The final stereo mix of Satisfaction was finished by 5 a.m. on May 11, 1965." This is clearly wrong, since both Wyman and Karnbach & Bernson claim the Stones had been at a recording session at Chess Studios in Chicago on May 10th (where they made their first attempt at recording Satisfaction), making it pretty much impossible for them to make it over to Hollywood and complete the song by five o’clock the next morning. Regardless of this conflict between sources, the Mars-Uranus conjunction would be present at any of these times.
* Mars was conjunct Uranus during both the release of the Beatles' I Feel Fine in late November 1964 and the recording of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction in May 1965 because Mars had been retrograde between January and April of 1965 – making three exact conjunctions to Uranus between Nov/Dec 1964 and May 1965. Interestingly, there were only three instances during the 20th century where a Mars retrograde coincided with multiple conjunctions to Uranus: 1907 (long before the Stones or probably even their parents were born), 1943-44 (when Keith Richards was born) and of course 1964-65.

1 comment:

Chiron said...

A brilliant article. Really gave me insight. Just now looking at Keith's chart and now must seek out Brian's. Wondered about the Mars/Uranus. Hmmm...

Thanks for a great read.

--Chiron O'Keefe