Three covers of “Satisfaction” each of them great in very different ways (in chronological order).
Otis Redding just uses the song as a vehicle, but is worth of inclusion for an absolutely scorching performance. It’s fun to hear him, after the song, trying to introduce the next song, and how out of breath he is. It is a completely physical performance. He’s not trying to communicate an idea, he’s just putting out as much energy as he can. Just look at him.
The other two covers both resist the original song, and are more targeted at the head than the body. The Devo cover is one of my favorite Devo songs because it combines solid musicianship with the full realization of their schtick “whatever ‘popuilar’ means, we are left out.” The Rolling Stones are such a good target for them, because they are such an icon of cool. The Devo version seems to be saying, “I can play your song, I can be as good as you, but nobody will ever take seriously my desires for satisfaction.”
The Cat Power version is even more removed from any Rock and Roll energy. She tries to make the dominant emotion ennui which also feels like a reaction against machismo as represented by the Stones. What I find really interesting about her version is the amount that she has to work against the song. It wasn’t until I heard her version that I really thought about just how propulsive and syncopated the language in the song is. She has to do all sort of work in her phrasing, and how she puts pauses within the sentences. It makes it clear that it’s really hard to sing a line like “Baby, baby, baby come back. Can’t you see I’m on a losing streak.” without having it take off full speed. There’s so much energy in the words that she has to transmute to sustain her mood.