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The Rolling Stones — Sympathy for the Devil
Album: Beggar's Banquet
Avg rating:
8.5

Your rating:
Total ratings: 3662









Released: 1969
Length: 6:13
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a mans soul and faith
And I was round when jesus christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around st. petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a generals rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached bombay
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what's confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me lucifer
Cause I'm in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste, um yeah
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
Tell me baby, what's my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what's my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame
Ooo, who
Ooo, who
Ooo, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Oh, yeah
What's my name
Tell me, baby, what's my name
Tell me, sweetie, what's my name
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Oh, yeah
Comments (567)add comment
Sublime, the best Stones song
PONDEROUS        lets ROCK!
overplayed in the classic rock radio genre 

but damn does it get better than this?
Great song. But if all you can hear are the "woo woo" backing vocals it gets very tedious very quickly. Can't blame Jagger/Richards or RP for that though. It was my fault for leaving RP playing while I was in the next room.
 fredriley wrote:
=> 10 for the sheer erudition of the lyrics. Ol' Rubber Lips is an educated and clever dude. Plus I love the "woo! woo!" chorus :o)
 
Der Name Ol' Rubber Lips gefällt mir. Von mir auch ne 10 für den Song.

Greetings from Bavaria to all the listeners outside. Stay safe!
I am sorry.. Funny at all..
10 GODLIKE 10  
 Kokoloco53 wrote:
I know men think not with their brains but a different body part, but I lost a lot of respect for Mitch Jagger after watching the documentary about the McKenzie Phillips, daughter of the Mamas and Papas Michelle Phillips who gifted their daughter to Mitch for and evening of sex without McKenzie's consent. McKenzie suffered from growing up in a family of drugs and sex as a child. 
 
From a NY Post interview with Todd Venezia: 
She (Mackenzie Philips) says that sex with Mick Jagger is still a fond memory.

“I was proud of my conquest,” she writes. “Or of having been conquested.”


 h8rhater wrote:

Since the titular character of the song also served with a General's Rank,... he must not have had those pesky bone spurs either.
 

TDS
Thanks RP.
 fredriley wrote:
=> 10 for the sheer erudition of the lyrics. Ol' Rubber Lips is an educated and clever dude. Plus I love the "woo! woo!" chorus :o)
 

I had to look up the definition of erudition.  Therefore, I can now wholeheartedly agree.  This is a brilliant song from a man who was almost a school teacher.  It has often been taken out of context.  
 Kokoloco53 wrote:
I know men think not with their brains but a different body part, but I lost a lot of respect for Mitch Jagger after watching the documentary about the McKenzie Phillips, daughter of the Mamas and Papas Michelle Phillips who gifted their daughter to Mitch for and evening of sex without McKenzie's consent. McKenzie suffered from growing up in a family of drugs and sex as a child. 
 
Sad to say, a relationship with Jagger wasn't as bad as the one with her father....
I know men think not with their brains but a different body part, but I lost a lot of respect for Mitch Jagger after watching the documentary about the McKenzie Phillips, daughter of the Mamas and Papas Michelle Phillips who gifted their daughter to Mitch for and evening of sex without McKenzie's consent. McKenzie suffered from growing up in a family of drugs and sex as a child. 
=> 10 for the sheer erudition of the lyrics. Ol' Rubber Lips is an educated and clever dude. Plus I love the "woo! woo!" chorus :o)
good stuff
Perfect nod to this evening, Bill. Thanks.
Thanks for the info Weave 

Weave wrote:
...was puzzled by the cover shown here as I bought the album with the cream "wedding invitation" cover when the album was first released. Just discovered the cover controversy which I was blissfully unware of......thanks to Matt Springer's article on ultimateclassicrock.com reproduced below:

"The Rolling Stones and controversy go together like fish and chips. In 1968, one of their best-known controversies kept their classic album ‘Beggars Banquet’ album off shelves for nearly six months in a protracted dispute over the legendary “toilet cover.”

As conceived by designer Michael Vosse, the original cover for ‘Beggars Banquet’ depicted graffiti on the wall of a bathroom that could charitably be described as dilapidated. Located at a Los Angeles-area Porsche dealership, the bathroom walls were defaced by actual Stones: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards scrawled the album credits and one-liners like “Wot no paper!” The photograph featured not just the walls but the top of an old, beaten-up toilet.

It’s possible that the toilet was the main source of the problem; just two years earlier, the cover of the Mamas and the Papas album ‘If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears’ was yanked off shelves by their label simply because a toilet sat next to the band in the cover photo. Whatever the reason, both the Stones’ U.S. and U.K. labels rejected the original “toilet cover” concept, delaying the album’s release.

“We really have tried to keep the album within the bounds of good taste,” said Jagger in 1968, as the controversy stretched on. “I mean, we haven’t shown the whole lavatory. That would have been rude. We’ve only shown the top half. Two people at the record company have told us that the sleeve is terribly offensive … We’ll get this album distributed somehow, even if I have to go down the end of Greek Street and Carlisle Street at two o’clock on Saturday morning and sell them myself.”

Originally slated for release in the summer of ’68, the cover controversy pushed the release of ‘Beggars Banquet’ until December. The original compromise cover adopted a wedding-invitation style; by the early ’80s, reissues began using the original cover design. By then, the sight of an offensive toilet had finally waned, and the Stones had discovered new and exciting ways to shock the public."


 

{#Devil_pimp}zesty !
Top three Stones songs ever...... and nice segue with the Altamont comment Bill. 



  leafmold wrote:
Trump's theme song.

wossName wrote:

The lyrics are "I'm a man of wealth and taste".

 
Since the titular character of the song also served with a General's Rank,... he must not have had those pesky bone spurs either.
thanks for reposting that interesting article. {#Exclaim}
 fredriley wrote:
Re-re-bump for very interesting info. Originally posted by Misterfixit:

"Sympathy for the Devil"
Mick Jagger's mad, erudite incantation strutted '60s rock toward the dark side of history.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Douglas Cruickshank


Jan. 14, 2002 | While the Beatles dominated pop in the 1960s, their music was nearly devoid of one vital element: darkness. At a time when authentic blues was still relatively unknown (and also not widely available) to most white kids, those who craved the seductive complexities of the dark side turned to the Rolling Stones. And nothing more vividly illuminated the group's supposed affinity for Lucifer than "Sympathy for the Devil," their anthem-cum-incantation in the form of a taunting cultural fable. It was the first cut on the A side of "Beggar's Banquet" — which now, 33 years later, still stands as not only one of the Stones' finest albums, but one of the best rock records ever made.

Released on Dec. 5, 1968, "Beggar's Banquet" came out just 10 days after the Beatles' White Album, and a year and a day before the Stones' notorious free concert at Altamont Speedway in Livermore, Calif. (Contrary to popular legend, "Sympathy for the Devil" was not the song being played when a young man was killed at the free concert. The band was knocking out "Under My Thumb" when 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by a member of the Hell's Angels motorcycle club. Several Web sites reference Don McLean's allusion to this incident in deconstructions of his song "American Pie": "Oh, and as I watched him on the stage/My hands were clenched in fists of rage/No angel born in Hell/Could break that Satan's spell.")


The Stones have made plenty of mistakes over the years ("Their Satanic Majesties Request"), but producing a rock opera wasn't one of them. Though "Sympathy for the Devil" is embedded with enough historical and philosophical scope to seem like the opening act to a drama of operatic dimensions, they wisely kept it to a concise six minutes and 22 seconds. In interviews, Mick Jagger — who wrote "Sympathy" ("I wrote it as sort of like a Bob Dylan song") without his usual writing partner, Keith Richards — has said he was concerned at the time about the potential for the lyrics to come off as pretentious and the band to be "skewered on the altar of pop culture." So when Richards suggested changing the rhythm, Jagger agreed and as the band worked (and worked and worked) on the piece, it ended up as a samba, which Jagger has called "hypnotic" and Richards referred to as "mad."

Jagger, a voracious reader and history buff, claimed he was influenced in writing "Sympathy" by Baudelaire. But he was also, as others have pointed out, clearly under the spell of Mikhail Bulgakov's classic allegorical novel of good and evil, "The Master and Margarita." Of course Jagger was even more clearly under the spell of the 1960s, a time when — for many — heaven and hell seemed to have come to earth in the most lucid terms.

The song's opening — "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste" — parallels the beginning of Bulgakov's novel, in which a sophisticated stranger, who turns out to be Satan, introduces himself to two gentlemen sitting in a Moscow park as they're discussing whether Jesus existed or not. ("'Please excuse me,' he said, speaking correctly, but with a foreign accent, 'for presuming to speak to you without an introduction.'") The song then references Christ and the story of Pontius Pilate, which the novel takes up in its second chapter. Before moving on to the Russian Revolution, the song's narrator, Lucifer, acknowledges that his listeners are mystified — "But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game" — just as, in "The Master and Margarita," one of the men approached by Satan in the park thinks to himself, "What the devil is he after?"

In the lyrics for "Sympathy," Jagger's narrator jumps from making "damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed fate" to St. Petersburg, "When I saw it was time for a change," and kills "the Czar and his ministers." Curiously (or not so curiously, given Jagger's penchant for reading history), the only other allusion in the song to Russia's dark past is an odd one: "Anastasia screamed in vain" — a reference to the youngest daughter of the czar who was murdered with the rest of the Romanov royal family. For most of the 20th century Anastasia was an almost mythological figure, thanks to the specious claims that she alone had survived the murders.

But more interesting than what appear to be direct correlations between the book and the song is how Jagger and the Stones, drawing on numerous influences, Bulgakov's novel apparently among them, managed — in a rock song — to address serious, even profound, ideas to a samba beat without turning the whole affair into an exercise in dull earnestness. On the contrary, "Sympathy" sounds like a party and works so well, on multiple levels, because its lyrics evoke more than they spell out, while the music not only has an infectious rhythm, it features ingenious layering of sound and background vocals that build to an irresistible, kick-ass tribal hootenanny. Those "woo woos," by the way, which provide a self-deprecating, cartoonish poke at the song's spookiness, while adding to the chanting-around-the-bonfire nature of the music, were provided by the four demons themselves, along with two members of the Stones' 1968 coven — Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull — and the album's producer, Jimmy Miller.

In writing the song, Jagger used words with impressive economy. He cites Jesus Christ, Pontius Pilate, the czar, Anastasia, the blitzkrieg (World War II), the Kennedys and the city of Bombay and mentions Lucifer by name (just once) and in so doing creates a deep, amplified portrait of a world torn by religion, war, assassination and confusion where "Every cop is a criminal/And all the sinners saints." Threaded throughout are taunts from the teasing narrator — the traditional demon trickster — trying to get the listener to speak his name: "Hope you guess my name," "Tell me, baby, what's my name?" "Tell me, sweetie, what's my name?" And — at the very pinnacle of the Flower Power era, remember — he then turns on his starry-eyed audience and tells them that they, in league with him, are to blame for the deaths of the '60s most promising political leaders.


But lest you think Jagger simply mixed up some brainy lyrics and threw them into a recording studio with his talented, stoned friends, take a look sometime at the strange little cinematic time capsule "One Plus One," a documentary on the recording of "Sympathy for the Devil" (among many other things). The film, which has been distributed in two versions, was directed by Jean-Luc Godard, and it's had a tempestuous history, which I won't go into here except to say that one version, known by the same title as the song, is not Godard's cut. That's the version generally available in the U.S. Anyway, whichever version you view, you'll see the Stones as they work with meticulous attention to detail to record the tracks and build the elaborate song.

Not surprisingly, given its distinctive sound and eternal-hot-button subject matter, "Sympathy" has taken on a life of its own (and isn't that just what that doggone devil would want?). It's been recorded by Bryan Ferry, Guns 'n' Roses, Natalie Merchant, Jane's Addiction, the Hampton String Quartet, the band Laibach (which devoted an entire album to different versions of the song) and, believe it or don't, the London Symphony Orchestra. It's worth pointing out that Rolling Stone magazine's take, in its review of Ferry's cover of the song ("'Sympathy' has always been recorded with, if not seriousness, at least earnestness"), is dismissive of both the Stones' version and Jagger's lyrics, which Rolling Stone called "slightly corny, vaguely ridiculous."

On the other hand, just last month Ron Rosenbaum wrote an article in the New York Observer in which he extols Jagger's abilities as a lyricist and specifically mentions "Sympathy for the Devil": "And let's not forget," Rosenbaum writes, "at this particular moment, that he's one of the rare rock songwriters who has addressed the question of evil and apocalypse in a sophisticated way." Rosenbaum goes on at some length to praise the singer's "beautiful use of incantation ... a lovely word for a special kind of vocal recurrence, one that combines overtones of prayer, magic, spell casting ... a kind of vocal voodoo."

The song's title continues to have almost iconic status and gets all manner of uses. It has been appropriated for a computer game ("Sympathy for the Devil: The War in Russia, 1942-43") and is tiresomely used whenever possible to headline stories about Jagger's marital woes and paternity suits or anytime bad behavior is the subject. For example, these, all of which appeared in the New York Post: "Jagger's Ex Has Sympathy for the Devil," "No Sympathy for Devils" and "Sympathy for the Devil: Why Bill Is No Hypocrite" (an article by P.J O'Rourke). To this day, "Sympathy" is widely discussed online on sites like the Christian Music Forum and referenced in treatises on the devil, such as John P. Sisk's paper, "The Necessary Devil" in First Things: A Journal of Religion and Public Life.

Jagger concedes that the song may have been something of an inspiration for all the '70s and '80s heavy metal bands that flirted with Satanism, but in interviews he's repeatedly distanced the Stones from any of it. In an exchange with Creem magazine, he said, ", I thought it was a really odd thing, because it was only one song, after all. It wasn't like it was a whole album, with lots of occult signs on the back. People seemed to embrace the image so readily, it has carried all the way over into heavy metal bands today. Especially in the sense of the fact that I have been a practicing Christian all of my life! People will see the worst when all we are is attempting to open their eyes to evil!"

Regardless of, or maybe because of, the swath it has cut, "Sympathy for the Devil," as good art often does, continues to resonate at least as strongly today as it did when it was first created. Woo woo.



 
Thank you Misterfixit and fredriley, Happy New Year!!!  WOO-HOO!!!!
'I rode a tank. 
Held a General's rank -
When the Blitzkrieg raged,
And the bodies stank' 
 hayduke2 wrote:
STONES ROCK!!!  : )    CRANK IT UP   (or psd it if you don't like it  {#Tongue-out}  )
 
CRANKIN' IT!
 hayduke2 wrote:
STONES ROCK!!!  : )    CRANK IT UP  

 
I'll give that a woo-hooo!
STONES ROCK!!!  : )    CRANK IT UP   (or psd it if you don't like it  {#Tongue-out}  )
 musicforme wrote:
It is the overplaying of songs like this that discourage me from contributing, I am off to listen elsewhere.

 

I know what you mean! I can't believe this song has been played one other time in the past 30 days.  Shocking.  It's like I can't listen to RP without hearing it.  If only there were a way for one to listen to just the songs one wants to, without hearing songs one doesn't want to.  It would be kind of like radio, but you get to pick the songs! I think I'm going to start a music service with this premise — I'll make a million!


It is the overplaying of songs like this that discourage me from contributing, I am off to listen elsewhere.
As Epic as this is, it would be OK if we didn't hear it for the next 25 years
 Proclivities wrote:
 VV wrote:

So am I wrong to rate the song "Godlike"?
I think not.
divil

 
WOOO-WOOOO!!!

 Legend08
 leafmold wrote:
Trump's theme song.
 
The lyrics are "I'm a man of wealth and taste".
Trump's theme song.
 thewiseking wrote:

This one is DEAD FROM OVERPLAY. So are so many of the Classic Rock Staples like the Pink Floyd rubbish and Baba O'Riley, Stevie Wonder's Superstition, Jimi's version of Watchtower etc...
 
Not even your capslock key can make that remotely true.
I think of the Stones' concert at Altamont whenever I hear this song...probably because I just finished Joel Selvin's excellent book on it, which I highly recommend.
 VH1 wrote:

Yepp, and this fate is shared by so many songs here, which is no surprise when the play list gets not updated. I have given up hope for some improvement here, sorry to say. I just switch the sound off, because PSD just gives me another overplayed song. {#Stop}{#Moon}{#Fight}{#Ass}

It feels one hasn't heard a new song here for decades! It is not quite tru I know, but it feels like it. I mostly know what song comes next, because it is always the same set. even Bill's announcements comes from tape. Because he is always saying the same text.

One does not really feel the "we are glad to have you with us" feel here.

 
This one is DEAD FROM OVERPLAY. So are so many of the Classic Rock Staples like the Pink Floyd rubbish and Baba O'Riley, Stevie Wonder's Superstition, Jimi's version of Watchtower etc... but generally speaking, this site is a fantastic bubbling fountain of musical knowledge and I am grateful for it. 
 Far wrote:
For you musical historians/professionals, what is the the origin, choice of use of the  "woo hoo" ?

 
Do you mean the origin of "non-lexical vocal accompaniment" (like in Doo-wop music) or do you mean The Stones choice of the sound "woo-woo"?
{#Propeller} 
A song that somehow gets better every time I hear it, and I've been listening to it for at least 40 years.
 Far wrote:
For you musical historians/professionals, what is the the origin, choice of use of the  "woo hoo" ?

 
Well I don't know, but the origin of my 'woo-hoo' was when I first heard Keef's icy hot killer solo on this, and that perfect crunchy slide chord stop at the end of it.

 
 VH1 wrote:
Yepp, and this fate is shared by so many songs here, which is no surprise when the play list gets not updated. I have given up hope for some improvement here, sorry to say. I just switch the sound off, because PSD just gives me another overplayed song.
It feels one hasn't heard a new song here for decades! It is not quite tru I know, but it feels like it. I mostly know what song comes next, because it is always the same set. even Bill's announcements comes from tape. Because he is always saying the same text.
One does not really feel the "we are glad to have you with us" feel here.
 
I'm pretty sure no one is forcing you to listen to RP.
If you have given up hope for improvement, why are you still here??
 fredriley wrote:

There's an extensive Wikipedia article on Bulgakov's novel, with external references to where you can read the book online or download it. Like yourself, I've not managed to read the thing myself, but it is on my To Read list.

 
I will feed in as one who has read The Master and Margarita, this very year. When I was about 15 years old, my mother suggested that I read it. A rather excessive number of decades later I got around to it (she recently told me that she herself never finished it). It's an interesting read, especially when you understand the environment in which it was written, where writing something like this could and often did lead to execution or at the least severe persecution by the State. The allegories to the Soviet Union and the Stalinist rule are clear, but probably hard to grasp in 2016. This song has taken on a different meaning for me after who can guess how many hearings. As I understand, the English translation was published in the late 1960s and was being read by Mick's girlfriend at the time (M. Faithful?). In some respects, there is something poignant about living in a society where a novel can get one killed and continuing to pursue one's vision carries with it this type of potential outcome (I suppose Salman Rushdie might have a sense of this). The novel itself is an example I suppose of socialist unrealism and/or phantasmagoricism. Push it to the top of your reading list and at the very least this Stones song will resonate differently. 
 Far wrote:
For you musical historians/professionals, what is the the origin, choice of use of the  "woo hoo" ?

 
I remember this was called the Stones' "Woo-hoo song". Not sure why {#Biggrin}
 thewiseking wrote:
DEAD FROM OVERPLAY

 
Yepp, and this fate is shared by so many songs here, which is no surprise when the play list gets not updated. I have given up hope for some improvement here, sorry to say. I just switch the sound off, because PSD just gives me another overplayed song. {#Stop}{#Moon}{#Fight}{#Ass}

It feels one hasn't heard a new song here for decades! It is not quite tru I know, but it feels like it. I mostly know what song comes next, because it is always the same set. even Bill's announcements comes from tape. Because he is always saying the same text.

One does not really feel the "we are glad to have you with us" feel here.
DEAD FROM OVERPLAY
For you musical historians/professionals, what is the the origin, choice of use of the  "woo hoo" ?
Bray Head, Ireland. Ca. 1992. When they played this, you forgot about the hellish walk home against the sea and rain - was all worth it!{#Bananajam}
 VV wrote:

So am I wrong to rate the song "Godlike"?
I think not.
divil
 testpilot wrote:
My respect for this song dwindled to zero once I started to pay attention to the lyrics. They're typically rock'n'roll kind of dumb and inane. I like Stones better when they sing about sex or desperation.
 
Besides, if the Devil is behind killings of Russian emperor and the Kennedys, he can't be all that bad...

 
WOW! I thought I was in the RadioParadise political forums by mistake
Je suis à la recherche de choristes pour m'accompagner au chant sur cette chanson des Stones. Je répète à Maisons Laffitte, France 
Someone  interested ? 
 testpilot wrote:
My respect for this song dwindled to zero once I started to pay attention to the lyrics. They're typically rock'n'roll kind of dumb and inane. I like Stones better when they sing about sex or desperation.
 
Besides, if the Devil is behind killings of Russian emperor and the Kennedys, he can't be all that bad...

 
Tells us what we need to know about your politics along with your lowest rated song

1 - Elvis Costello - Peace, Love and Understanding

REALLY!!!!!!!! 
 Ahnyer_Keester wrote:
Not a fan, nor do I have much sympathy for the devil, but this is a great song nonetheless.

 
But who prays for Satan? Who in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most, our one fellow and brother who most needed a friend yet had not a single one, the one sinner among us all who had the highest and clearest right to every Christian's daily and nightly prayers, for the plain and unassailable reason that his was the first and greatest need, he being among sinners the supremest?


 - Mark Twain's Autobiography


 Jota wrote:

I think you miss the point.  It's from the point of view of the devil saying 'Don't blame me.  You did it all yourselves.'  and yet he seems to take all the rap for man's crimes with religious nut-jobs first in the queue to point the finger.  Meanwhile their own god gives children cancer.

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
'Cause I'm in need of some restraint
(Who who, who who)

He's saying god and Lucifer are one and the same.

Tell me baby, what's my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what's my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame

It's not the devil to blame for all the ills in the world. Jagger is saying the line from those who are religious is nonsense, blaming an imaginary devil for the ills when the real culprits are human beings.

The title of the song - Sympathy For the Devil, he has sympathy because he gets blamed for a helluva lot when the real blame lies at the door of people.

Not that I think for one minute Jagger is religious, but is using this topic as an allegory.

 
So am I wrong to rate the song "Godlike"?

 idiot_wind wrote:
Just compare the structure of this song, to Jumping Jack...to Let it Bleed...to Dead Flowers. 

My goodness, these guys were geniuses.

 
I agree completely with your assessment. Too bad that spark of genius was extinguished so long ago.
Not a fan, nor do I have much sympathy for the devil, but this is a great song nonetheless.
 testpilot wrote:
My respect for this song dwindled to zero once I started to pay attention to the lyrics. They're typically rock'n'roll kind of dumb and inane. I like Stones better when they sing about sex or desperation.
 
Besides, if the Devil is behind killings of Russian emperor and the Kennedys, he can't be all that bad...

 
Right-wing lunatic much?
 testpilot wrote:
My respect for this song dwindled to zero once I started to pay attention to the lyrics. They're typically rock'n'roll kind of dumb and inane. I like Stones better when they sing about sex or desperation.
 
Besides, if the Devil is behind killings of Russian emperor and the Kennedys, he can't be all that bad...

 
Man, that's some real hot take trolling right there.  Good effort.
 BritGirl333 wrote:
Woo hoo!!!!  Love this track.  Thanks for keeping me sane!{#Dancingbanana_2}

 
Anyone going to Oldchella (Coachella) to see the Stones?
Woo hoo!!!!  Love this track.  Thanks for keeping me sane!{#Dancingbanana_2}
I love the 'Stones. Fred and Barney.

- Steven Wright. 
 fredriley wrote:

There's an extensive Wikipedia article on Bulgakov's novel, with external references to where you can read the book online or download it. Like yourself, I've not managed to read the thing myself, but it is on my To Read list.

 
Thanks!  The book is great, and knowing more analysis is available is awesome. 
Just compare the structure of this song, to Jumping Jack...to Let it Bleed...to Dead Flowers. 

My goodness, these guys were geniuses.
 Jota wrote:

I think you miss the point.  It's from the point of view of the devil saying 'Don't blame me.  You did it all yourselves.'  and yet he seems to take all the rap for man's crimes with religious nut-jobs first in the queue to point the finger.  Meanwhile their own god gives children cancer.

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
'Cause I'm in need of some restraint
(Who who, who who)

He's saying god and Lucifer are one and the same.

Tell me baby, what's my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what's my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame

It's not the devil to blame for all the ills in the world. Jagger is saying the line from those who are religious is nonsense, blaming an imaginary devil for the ills when the real culprits are human beings.

The title of the song - Sympathy For the Devil, he has sympathy because he gets blamed for a helluva lot when the real blame lies at the door of people.

Not that I think for one minute Jagger is religious, but is using this topic as an allegory.

 
Awesome rebuttal! 
Read The Master and Margarita  by Bulgakov, then the song means even more!
 testpilot wrote:
My respect for this song dwindled to zero once I started to pay attention to the lyrics. They're typically rock'n'roll kind of dumb and inane. I like Stones better when they sing about sex or desperation.
 
Besides, if the Devil is behind killings of Russian emperor and the Kennedys, he can't be all that bad...

 
I think you miss the point.  It's from the point of view of the devil saying 'Don't blame me.  You did it all yourselves.'  and yet he seems to take all the rap for man's crimes with religious nut-jobs first in the queue to point the finger.  Meanwhile their own god gives children cancer.

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
'Cause I'm in need of some restraint
(Who who, who who)

He's saying god and Lucifer are one and the same.

Tell me baby, what's my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what's my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame

It's not the devil to blame for all the ills in the world. Jagger is saying the line from those who are religious is nonsense, blaming an imaginary devil for the ills when the real culprits are human beings.

The title of the song - Sympathy For the Devil, he has sympathy because he gets blamed for a helluva lot when the real blame lies at the door of people.

Not that I think for one minute Jagger is religious, but is using this topic as an allegory.
My respect for this song dwindled to zero once I started to pay attention to the lyrics. They're typically rock'n'roll kind of dumb and inane. I like Stones better when they sing about sex or desperation.
 
Besides, if the Devil is behind killings of Russian emperor and the Kennedys, he can't be all that bad...
 fredriley wrote:

There's an extensive Wikipedia article on Bulgakov's novel, with external references to where you can read the book online or download it. Like yourself, I've not managed to read the thing myself, but it is on my To Read list.

 
Well worth it.  I didn't want to put it down.  Unique work.
As a courtesy to the Universe, RP is now muted for the next 6 minutes or so.
 kcar wrote:

Misterfixit's post of Cruickshank's article is definitely worth reading. Cruickshank's article suggests in part that Jagger's lyrics were influenced by Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita" and uses events in the opening chapter. Sadly, I've only read a few chapters of the book but it's brilliant and the opening chapter, wherein the Devil talks with two men in a park, is darkly hysterical.
 
There's an extensive Wikipedia article on Bulgakov's novel, with external references to where you can read the book online or download it. Like yourself, I've not managed to read the thing myself, but it is on my To Read list.
 idiot_wind wrote:
I think these guys are just copying Arcade Fire. Now that's a real RnR band!

 
I think you're just copying yourself and make the same joke over and over again.
 idiot_wind wrote:
I think these guys are just copying Arcade Fire. Now that's a real RnR band!

 
You're right on it idiot_wind!!! And the vocals also sound an awful lot like Colin Meloy, don't they?  {#Laughing}
I think these guys are just copying Arcade Fire. Now that's a real RnR band!
Natural Fake.
Was working three p/t   jobs and going to school and would play this  8-track on my way to the Wheeling Nursery whilst sucking on watermelon hard candies and trying to stay awake!!   zziiiiiiiwahoozieyayayayaya!!!!!!{#Bananajam}
Can't rate this song duh!
 FatPants wrote:
Godlike no question whatsoever.

 
No question for me, either.  Great music. 
Godlike no question whatsoever.
'10' for Keef's wiry, treble-y solo at least.
...was puzzled by the cover shown here as I bought the album with the cream "wedding invitation" cover when the album was first released. Just discovered the cover controversy which I was blissfully unware of......thanks to Matt Springer's article on ultimateclassicrock.com reproduced below:

"The Rolling Stones and controversy go together like fish and chips. In 1968, one of their best-known controversies kept their classic album ‘Beggars Banquet’ album off shelves for nearly six months in a protracted dispute over the legendary “toilet cover.”

As conceived by designer Michael Vosse, the original cover for ‘Beggars Banquet’ depicted graffiti on the wall of a bathroom that could charitably be described as dilapidated. Located at a Los Angeles-area Porsche dealership, the bathroom walls were defaced by actual Stones: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards scrawled the album credits and one-liners like “Wot no paper!” The photograph featured not just the walls but the top of an old, beaten-up toilet.

It’s possible that the toilet was the main source of the problem; just two years earlier, the cover of the Mamas and the Papas album ‘If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears’ was yanked off shelves by their label simply because a toilet sat next to the band in the cover photo. Whatever the reason, both the Stones’ U.S. and U.K. labels rejected the original “toilet cover” concept, delaying the album’s release.

“We really have tried to keep the album within the bounds of good taste,” said Jagger in 1968, as the controversy stretched on. “I mean, we haven’t shown the whole lavatory. That would have been rude. We’ve only shown the top half. Two people at the record company have told us that the sleeve is terribly offensive … We’ll get this album distributed somehow, even if I have to go down the end of Greek Street and Carlisle Street at two o’clock on Saturday morning and sell them myself.”

Originally slated for release in the summer of ’68, the cover controversy pushed the release of ‘Beggars Banquet’ until December. The original compromise cover adopted a wedding-invitation style; by the early ’80s, reissues began using the original cover design. By then, the sight of an offensive toilet had finally waned, and the Stones had discovered new and exciting ways to shock the public."


This one, more than any other of the Stones' extensive catalog, epitomizes the band's lore. its sound, and its place in rock n roll history. 
more so when done from behind the Zion curtain. 
LPCity wrote:
I have to rate this a 10 for many good reasons but rating Sympathy for the Devil "Godlike" is one of the best.

 


I have to rate this a 10 for many good reasons but rating Sympathy for the Devil "Godlike" is one of the best.
 fredriley wrote:
Re-re-bump for very interesting info. Originally posted by Misterfixit:

"Sympathy for the Devil"
Mick Jagger's mad, erudite incantation strutted '60s rock toward the dark side of history.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Douglas Cruickshank


Jan. 14, 2002 | While the Beatles dominated pop in the 1960s, their music was nearly devoid of one vital element: darkness...

 
Misterfixit's post of Cruickshank's article is definitely worth reading. Cruickshank's article suggests in part that Jagger's lyrics were influenced by Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita" and uses events in the opening chapter. Sadly, I've only read a few chapters of the book but it's brilliant and the opening chapter, wherein the Devil talks with two men in a park, is darkly hysterical. 

Didn't Steven Pinker's recent book "The Better Angels of Our Nature" claim that "Sympathy for the Devil" was an example of the 60's loss of self-control and restraint, leading to an increase of violence during that decade? 




God-like?
"Please allow me to introduce myself" -->
So Satan disguised himself and visited Adam and Eve in the Garden. He worked hard to get them to doubt what God had commanded. Then, Satan suggested that God made the rule about the tree because he didn’t want them to have God-like knowledge. Finally, he had them look at the fruit of the tree and said, “Doesn’t that look delicious?”

God-Like knowledge? It seems we were we deceived...

Godlike isn't God, somehow we forgot -->
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Therefore, my rating is
Godlike, after all:
Why did Satan fall from heaven? Satan fell because of pride. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God. Notice the many “I will...” statements in Isaiah 14:12-15. Ezekiel 28:12-15 describes Satan as an exceedingly beautiful angel. Satan was likely the highest of all angels, the most beautiful of all of God's creations, but he was not content in his position.


...I guess that's why the friend of the devil is a friend of mine and sympathy for the devil is the world we live in.








 ScottN wrote:
The piano plays a crucial role in many of the Stones' songs. Not often acknowledged...what with their start guitarist(s) and frontman/lyricist.



 
Wow. After reading this comment, I went back and listened to this song in its entirety.  I was amazed to hear that, except for the guitar solos, the only instruments are bass guitar, piano (plus drums, vocals).  I have listened to this song many, many times, and never noticed that.  Lesson learned:  if you really want to understand a song, ask yourself "which instruments are playing?"!
 ScottN wrote:
 rpdevotee wrote:
This is one of my favorite songs of all time...
How many bands can pull off singing a song about the devil!? 
It is so sincere and true to the heart...it makes for a lasting artistic piece. 
I agree...sublimely simple piano intro to one the best R&R songs ever.
  The piano plays a crucial role in many of the Stones' songs. Not often acknowledged...what with their star guitarist(s) and frontman/lyricist.


 fredriley wrote:
Re-re-bump for very interesting info. Originally posted by Misterfixit:

"Sympathy for the Devil"
Mick Jagger's mad, erudite incantation strutted '60s rock toward the dark side of history.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Douglas Cruickshank

...

 

Cool!! 
 GTT wrote:
I once had a colleague tell me with pride that he only liked to listen to "adult" music ... i.e. not rock n roll, not music like that made by bands like the Rolling Stones.  I often think of him when this song comes on, how wrong he was.  It doesn't get more adult than this ... MJ had his thinking cap on when he wrote this one.

 
Agree with you - it's actually quite hard to believe he wrote such majestic and amazing lyrics
Kinda a cliche' but AWESOME none the less

 
I once had a colleague tell me with pride that he only liked to listen to "adult" music ... i.e. not rock n roll, not music like that made by bands like the Rolling Stones.  I often think of him when this song comes on, how wrong he was.  It doesn't get more adult than this ... MJ had his thinking cap on when he wrote this one.
 Peter_Bradshaw wrote:
{#Heartkiss}      " G  O  D  L  I  K  E" for sure
 

Glad somebody has taste. GODLIKE and thats a double coming from an Athiest. 11/10
Classic song but the backing gets a bit monotomous should have added a brace of ''Kookaburra'' to the pigeons to level it out.  
{#Heartkiss}       "G O  D  L  I  K  E"
 idiot_wind wrote:
Wow...isn't this Kid Rock? Or is it Nickel Back?  Or maybe Foo Fighters...or Linkin Park...


My god...can soemone clone the Rollin Stones? 


RnR may be doomed!   
  

       

 

YOU BE APTLY NAMED.......
Wow...isn't this Kid Rock? Or is it Nickel Back?  Or maybe Foo Fighters...or Linkin Park...


My god...can soemone clone the Rollin Stones? 


RnR may be doomed!   
  

       
Re-re-bump for very interesting info. Originally posted by Misterfixit:

"Sympathy for the Devil"
Mick Jagger's mad, erudite incantation strutted '60s rock toward the dark side of history.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Douglas Cruickshank


Jan. 14, 2002 | While the Beatles dominated pop in the 1960s, their music was nearly devoid of one vital element: darkness. At a time when authentic blues was still relatively unknown (and also not widely available) to most white kids, those who craved the seductive complexities of the dark side turned to the Rolling Stones. And nothing more vividly illuminated the group's supposed affinity for Lucifer than "Sympathy for the Devil," their anthem-cum-incantation in the form of a taunting cultural fable. It was the first cut on the A side of "Beggar's Banquet" — which now, 33 years later, still stands as not only one of the Stones' finest albums, but one of the best rock records ever made.

Released on Dec. 5, 1968, "Beggar's Banquet" came out just 10 days after the Beatles' White Album, and a year and a day before the Stones' notorious free concert at Altamont Speedway in Livermore, Calif. (Contrary to popular legend, "Sympathy for the Devil" was not the song being played when a young man was killed at the free concert. The band was knocking out "Under My Thumb" when 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by a member of the Hell's Angels motorcycle club. Several Web sites reference Don McLean's allusion to this incident in deconstructions of his song "American Pie": "Oh, and as I watched him on the stage/My hands were clenched in fists of rage/No angel born in Hell/Could break that Satan's spell.")


The Stones have made plenty of mistakes over the years ("Their Satanic Majesties Request"), but producing a rock opera wasn't one of them. Though "Sympathy for the Devil" is embedded with enough historical and philosophical scope to seem like the opening act to a drama of operatic dimensions, they wisely kept it to a concise six minutes and 22 seconds. In interviews, Mick Jagger — who wrote "Sympathy" ("I wrote it as sort of like a Bob Dylan song") without his usual writing partner, Keith Richards — has said he was concerned at the time about the potential for the lyrics to come off as pretentious and the band to be "skewered on the altar of pop culture." So when Richards suggested changing the rhythm, Jagger agreed and as the band worked (and worked and worked) on the piece, it ended up as a samba, which Jagger has called "hypnotic" and Richards referred to as "mad."

Jagger, a voracious reader and history buff, claimed he was influenced in writing "Sympathy" by Baudelaire. But he was also, as others have pointed out, clearly under the spell of Mikhail Bulgakov's classic allegorical novel of good and evil, "The Master and Margarita." Of course Jagger was even more clearly under the spell of the 1960s, a time when — for many — heaven and hell seemed to have come to earth in the most lucid terms.

The song's opening — "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste" — parallels the beginning of Bulgakov's novel, in which a sophisticated stranger, who turns out to be Satan, introduces himself to two gentlemen sitting in a Moscow park as they're discussing whether Jesus existed or not. ("'Please excuse me,' he said, speaking correctly, but with a foreign accent, 'for presuming to speak to you without an introduction.'") The song then references Christ and the story of Pontius Pilate, which the novel takes up in its second chapter. Before moving on to the Russian Revolution, the song's narrator, Lucifer, acknowledges that his listeners are mystified — "But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game" — just as, in "The Master and Margarita," one of the men approached by Satan in the park thinks to himself, "What the devil is he after?"

In the lyrics for "Sympathy," Jagger's narrator jumps from making "damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed fate" to St. Petersburg, "When I saw it was time for a change," and kills "the Czar and his ministers." Curiously (or not so curiously, given Jagger's penchant for reading history), the only other allusion in the song to Russia's dark past is an odd one: "Anastasia screamed in vain" — a reference to the youngest daughter of the czar who was murdered with the rest of the Romanov royal family. For most of the 20th century Anastasia was an almost mythological figure, thanks to the specious claims that she alone had survived the murders.

But more interesting than what appear to be direct correlations between the book and the song is how Jagger and the Stones, drawing on numerous influences, Bulgakov's novel apparently among them, managed — in a rock song — to address serious, even profound, ideas to a samba beat without turning the whole affair into an exercise in dull earnestness. On the contrary, "Sympathy" sounds like a party and works so well, on multiple levels, because its lyrics evoke more than they spell out, while the music not only has an infectious rhythm, it features ingenious layering of sound and background vocals that build to an irresistible, kick-ass tribal hootenanny. Those "woo woos," by the way, which provide a self-deprecating, cartoonish poke at the song's spookiness, while adding to the chanting-around-the-bonfire nature of the music, were provided by the four demons themselves, along with two members of the Stones' 1968 coven — Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull — and the album's producer, Jimmy Miller.

In writing the song, Jagger used words with impressive economy. He cites Jesus Christ, Pontius Pilate, the czar, Anastasia, the blitzkrieg (World War II), the Kennedys and the city of Bombay and mentions Lucifer by name (just once) and in so doing creates a deep, amplified portrait of a world torn by religion, war, assassination and confusion where "Every cop is a criminal/And all the sinners saints." Threaded throughout are taunts from the teasing narrator — the traditional demon trickster — trying to get the listener to speak his name: "Hope you guess my name," "Tell me, baby, what's my name?" "Tell me, sweetie, what's my name?" And — at the very pinnacle of the Flower Power era, remember — he then turns on his starry-eyed audience and tells them that they, in league with him, are to blame for the deaths of the '60s most promising political leaders.


But lest you think Jagger simply mixed up some brainy lyrics and threw them into a recording studio with his talented, stoned friends, take a look sometime at the strange little cinematic time capsule "One Plus One," a documentary on the recording of "Sympathy for the Devil" (among many other things). The film, which has been distributed in two versions, was directed by Jean-Luc Godard, and it's had a tempestuous history, which I won't go into here except to say that one version, known by the same title as the song, is not Godard's cut. That's the version generally available in the U.S. Anyway, whichever version you view, you'll see the Stones as they work with meticulous attention to detail to record the tracks and build the elaborate song.

Not surprisingly, given its distinctive sound and eternal-hot-button subject matter, "Sympathy" has taken on a life of its own (and isn't that just what that doggone devil would want?). It's been recorded by Bryan Ferry, Guns 'n' Roses, Natalie Merchant, Jane's Addiction, the Hampton String Quartet, the band Laibach (which devoted an entire album to different versions of the song) and, believe it or don't, the London Symphony Orchestra. It's worth pointing out that Rolling Stone magazine's take, in its review of Ferry's cover of the song ("'Sympathy' has always been recorded with, if not seriousness, at least earnestness"), is dismissive of both the Stones' version and Jagger's lyrics, which Rolling Stone called "slightly corny, vaguely ridiculous."

On the other hand, just last month Ron Rosenbaum wrote an article in the New York Observer in which he extols Jagger's abilities as a lyricist and specifically mentions "Sympathy for the Devil": "And let's not forget," Rosenbaum writes, "at this particular moment, that he's one of the rare rock songwriters who has addressed the question of evil and apocalypse in a sophisticated way." Rosenbaum goes on at some length to praise the singer's "beautiful use of incantation ... a lovely word for a special kind of vocal recurrence, one that combines overtones of prayer, magic, spell casting ... a kind of vocal voodoo."

The song's title continues to have almost iconic status and gets all manner of uses. It has been appropriated for a computer game ("Sympathy for the Devil: The War in Russia, 1942-43") and is tiresomely used whenever possible to headline stories about Jagger's marital woes and paternity suits or anytime bad behavior is the subject. For example, these, all of which appeared in the New York Post: "Jagger's Ex Has Sympathy for the Devil," "No Sympathy for Devils" and "Sympathy for the Devil: Why Bill Is No Hypocrite" (an article by P.J O'Rourke). To this day, "Sympathy" is widely discussed online on sites like the Christian Music Forum and referenced in treatises on the devil, such as John P. Sisk's paper, "The Necessary Devil" in First Things: A Journal of Religion and Public Life.

Jagger concedes that the song may have been something of an inspiration for all the '70s and '80s heavy metal bands that flirted with Satanism, but in interviews he's repeatedly distanced the Stones from any of it. In an exchange with Creem magazine, he said, ", I thought it was a really odd thing, because it was only one song, after all. It wasn't like it was a whole album, with lots of occult signs on the back. People seemed to embrace the image so readily, it has carried all the way over into heavy metal bands today. Especially in the sense of the fact that I have been a practicing Christian all of my life! People will see the worst when all we are is attempting to open their eyes to evil!"

Regardless of, or maybe because of, the swath it has cut, "Sympathy for the Devil," as good art often does, continues to resonate at least as strongly today as it did when it was first created. Woo woo.


Ahhh...yeahhh!
Woo hoo!
 philinnz wrote:
do they have a lot of owls in the background going hoo hoo all the time?

WWWWhhhoooooo WWWWWhhhoooooo   ??

 

do they have a lot of owls in the background going hoo hoo all the time?


  Rock radio burned this out way too fast.  Pearl Jam's Black has similarities. 
Beyond classic. But just as this is one of the most notable songs in the entire history of R&R (like many other '60s-'70s Stones songs), it also serves as a measure of how less-than-classic (and maybe just a notch or two above mediocre, more reputation than revolution) the Stones became after about 1980. Maybe they spoiled us with Dandelion She's A Rainbow Get Off My CloudCan't You Hear Me Knockin', but IMHO a lot of that post-Some Girls output was atypical c-r-a-p. 
agree with previous comment - early RS music is superb. What a shame Mick Jagger behaved like such a d*ck in his older years .... {#Bananapiano}
It's kind of funny, Mick and Keith are known as performers, but some of their songwriting is as good as it gets. This is one, 'Wild Horses' is another. Entirely different styles as well.
 On_The_Beach wrote:

Come on dude, that would be like having the Rama Lama without the Ding Dong!
 
Well put.
 bentonian wrote:
Heard it a thousand times, still gives me goosebumps.
 
And makes a great ringtone for your smartphone.
 chris_the_man wrote:
Is there a version without the whoo whoo too?I like to hear how that effects the song
 
Sympathy for the Devil (originally titled One Plus One by the film director and distributed under that title in Europe) is a 1968 film shot mostly in color by director Jean-Luc Godard. This very strange movie shows them in the studio recording a number of different versions this song.
Heard it a thousand times, still gives me goosebumps.
 They did a new version, fairly recently, more electro-funk-dance, that you might like.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt9BeOAR2Cs

On_The_Beach wrote:

Come on dude, that would be like having the Rama Lama without the Ding Dong!
 


 chris_the_man wrote:
Is there a version without the whoo whoo too?I like to hear how that effects the song
 
Come on dude, that would be like having the Rama Lama without the Ding Dong!
Is there a version without the whoo whoo too?I like to hear how that effects the song
{#Bananajumprope}
 crazyossi wrote:

Only three ? {#Bananapiano}


 



I bet you gave it your all and thats the main thing
 kingart wrote:
I sang this at a karaoke bar one night. 
I really got into it. ... 
Three people left the room.
 
 
Only three ? {#Bananapiano}


 Lichenia, wrote:
Best stones track of all time
 
I tend to agree with this statement, Lichenia! {#Yes}  Or at least among the best, in my view...
Best stones track of all time
Just waiting to go to my house... with  this song I'm chair dancing in my office hahaha... of course my boss not here....{#Bananasplit}
 kingart wrote:
I sang this at a karaoke bar one night. 
I really got into it. ... 
Three people left the room.
 
 
LOL The bar I hang out in has a gong hanging from the ceiling and one can "gong" someone during karaoke if they are just butchering a song...but you have to buy the person a beer if you do. Most of the time it's worth the $4.           
 coyotexxx2 wrote:
The bass line in this is absolutely kick ass. 
 
yup, and the salt shaker.    ............. s'bout it really!
I sang this at a karaoke bar one night. 
I really got into it. ... 
Three people left the room.
 
The very definition of godlike - oddly enough...