Sympathy for the Devil – Unveiling the Masterful Commentary on Humanity


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Rolling Stones's Sympathy for the Devil at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Faustian Pact with the Listener
  5. Humanity’s Hand in Historical Atrocities
  6. The Beguiling Chorus: A Question Left Unanswered
  7. The Hidden Meaning: A Reflection on Personal Responsibility
  8. Memorable Lines that Echo Through Generations

Lyrics

Yow, yow
Yow
Mm-huh
Mm-uh

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 man’s 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

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 general’s 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?”
Well, 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 reach Bombay

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
Oh, yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
Oh, yeah
A-get down, baby

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
Oh, yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Mm, yeah

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, mm, yeah

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
Mm, yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
Mean it
Get down

Woo-hoo
Ah, yeah
Get on down
Oh, yeah
Mm
Bum, ba-bum, bum, bum, ba-bum
Ba-bum, bum, bum, ba-bum
Bum, ba-bum, bum, bum, ba-bum
Bum, dum, bum, bum, ba-dum, da
Yeah
Ah, yeah

Tell me, baby, what’s my name?
Tell me, honey, can you guess my name?
Tell me, baby, what’s my name?
I’ll tell you one time, you’re to blame
Ooh-hoo, ooh-hoo
Ooh-hoo, alright
Ooh-hoo-hoo, ooh-hoo-hoo
Ooh-hoo-hoo, ah, yeah
Ooh-hoo-hoo, ooh-hoo-hoo
Ah yes, what’s my name?
Tell me, baby, what’s my name?
Tell me, sweetie, what’s my name?

Ooh-hoo-hoo, ooh-hoo-hoo
Ooh-hoo-hoo, ooh-hoo-hoo
Ooh-hoo-hoo, ooh-hoo-hoo
Ooh-hoo-hoo, ah, yeah

Full Lyrics

In 1968, The Rolling Stones unleashed upon the world a song that would become one of rock’s most compelling and debated anthems. ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, is a rich tapestry of historical references woven with philosophical musings on morality, power, and evil.

Decades later, the song continues to intrigue, its lyrics sparking conversation and contemplation about who the ‘Devil’ might be, and what the nature of his game entails. But the true artistry of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ lies in its ability to serve as a mirror to society – a challenge to look within and recognize our collective role in the dance of good and evil.

A Faustian Pact with the Listener

From the introductory lines, Jagger’s performance as the Devil is an invitation to the listener to engage in a narrative rife with irony and self-reflection. The character is debonair, cloaked in wealth and taste, yet his dark confessions suggest a more sinister truth behind history’s turning points.

This opening gambit sets the tone for a song that doesn’t just tell a story but rather invites the audience to question the stories we are told. It asks us to dissect the nature of fame, the lure of power, and the price of influence – subject matters as relevant today as they were in the tumultuous late ’60s.

Humanity’s Hand in Historical Atrocities

As the lyrics unfold, the ‘Devil’ places himself at the scene of various human atrocities, from the crucifixion of Jesus to the fall of the Russian Tsar and the chaos of World War II. The Stones craftily use their protagonist to reflect society’s darkest impulses: betrayal, revolution, war, and murder.

Each mention of historical turmoil is a reminder of the catastrophic outcomes when humanity succumbs to its worst tendencies. Not only do The Stones compel listeners to confront uncomfortable realities, but they also boldly suggest that ‘after all, it was you and me,’ implicating us all in the legacy of human cruelty.

The Beguiling Chorus: A Question Left Unanswered

The song’s recurring refrain ‘Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name’ is a masterstroke in lyrical ambiguity, goading listeners into an introspective game of cat and mouse. These lines dare us to find the answer, all the while knowing that the true identity of the song’s protagonist is secondary to its message.

The chorus ensnares the listener in its rhythmic enchantment, a convergence of rock instrumentation and samba-inspired beats. As guitars and percussion build in intensity, the question of the Devil’s name becomes more desperate, more insistent. And yet, as the song implies, the answer is already known: the Devil is us.

The Hidden Meaning: A Reflection on Personal Responsibility

Amidst the historical and biblical allusions, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ harbors a more profound meditation on personal accountability. The Devil’s actions are not isolated but are reflections of the choices people make. The song is a provocative thought experiment examining the duality of human nature, where saints can just as easily be sinners.

In this nuanced portrayal, The Rolling Stones challenge us to accept that even the most deplorable acts are part of the collective human experience – actions that society has influenced, enabled, or perhaps even instigated. It is a humbling call to be mindful of our own capacity for wrongdoing.

Memorable Lines that Echo Through Generations

‘Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints,’ these memorably paradoxical lyrics distill the essence of the track into a powerful commentary on moral relativism. The song suggests that good and evil are not absolutes but exist within everyone, dependent on perspective and circumstance.

‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ in its poeticism and provocation, resonates beyond its initial era, capturing the timeless human struggle with sin and redemption. Its lyrics are a testament to The Rolling Stones’ ability to craft a song that endures precisely because it challenges listeners to engage with the complexities of their very nature.

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