Album: Viva Satellite
. . .
I first heard “Guaranteed” on The First Waltz, a 2014 live album by Hard Working Americans, a band that Todd Snider had formed with mostly jamband vets, and whose self-titled debut was all cover songs. The First Waltz followed hard upon that album, and its highlight was a song that I had no idea was originally recorded by Snider 16 years earlier for his third album, 1998’s Viva Satellite.
Viva Satellite was Snider’s final album for MCA records, and for reasons, it was decided that the last chance to make Snider a major-label star was to put him in a collared shirt, short styled hair and a jacket. Oh, and to turn his band, The Nervous Wrecks, into an ersatz Heartbreakers. Tom Petty’s, that is. That it almost worked — not commercially, lol, but artistically — goes to Snider’s charms, and I actually quite like Viva Satellite, including the cover of “The Joker,” a song I’ve always had a literal love-hate relationship to.
But “Guaranteed,” an ode to channel-surfing, is as lazy as its protagonist, with a beyond slow beat from drummer Paul Buchignani, and long echoing “heyyyyyyyyyyys” from Snider, lead guitarist Will Kimbrough and bassist Joe Mariencheck over what’s basically a single chord, and psychedelic feedback guitars coming and going from all directions they open up with a call-and-response chorus between Snider and (I’m assuming) Kimbrough.
I want what you promised me
I want satisfaction (satisfaction)
I want satisfaction guaranteed
Two things I love about this: the way they both almost yell the final “Satisfaction (satisfaction)” and the way their voices sigh together on the final “guaranteeeeeed.” Not to mention how they just glide into the first verse, still unhurried, like he’s actually sure — unlike Mick Jagger and Paul Westerberg — he’s going to get that guaranteed satisfaction.
No power tie, no power lunch
I wouldn’t tell you a lie, I got this knock out punch
When I’m channel surfing USA
Watching those hours roll by
I know I may be throwing my time away
But at least I’m remotely in control
And so it goes, never bothering to change, except for one time at the bridge, by which you’re so deep into the song that it’s a bit of a shock. Which might have been the point.
I say, stand back world, I’m standoffish
And I have made my wish on a satellite dish
I say, viva (viva) satellite,
Viva (viva) satellite
But even before this bridge is over, it’s back to where it was. I know that this is the kind of thing that can drive people insane, but I love it, even more so that it’s kind of an outlier in Snider’s career, but also a song that he clearly loves, given that he reprised it with Hard Working Americans.
“Guaranteed” live with Hard Working Americans, 2014
“Guaranteed” live acoustic 2020
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