Sympathy for the Devil

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This article is about a song. For other meanings of Sympathy for the Devil see here.

"Sympathy for the Devil" is a song by British rock group The Rolling Stones. The song first appeared as the lead-off track on the 1968 Stones album Beggars Banquet and immediately generated controversy for its lyrical content.

The song, credited to Jagger/Richards, is sung with vehemence and swagger by Mick Jagger as a first-person narrative and commentary from the point of view of a suave and sophisticated Lucifer. Backed by a constantly intensifying rock arrangement, the singer coolly recounts his exploits over the course of human history and warns the listener:

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

At the time of the release of Beggars Banquet the Stones had already raised some hackles for sexually forward lyrics such as "Let's Spend the Night Together" and for dabbling in Satanism (their previous album, while containing no direct Satanic references, had been titled Their Satanic Majesties Request), and "Sympathy" brought these concerns to the fore. In addition to the very idea of a sympathetic view of the Devil, the lyrics included harsh references to the deaths of John and Robert Kennedy (the latter having occurred only months before the album was released). Ironically, the song may have been spared further controversy when the first single from the album, "Street Fighting Man" became even more controversial in the wake of the race riots occurring in many places in the U.S.

Sympathy for the Devil is also the title of a 1970 film by Jean-Luc Godard. The film, a loose documentary of the late 1960s American counterculture, also featured the Rolling Stones.

The song has been widely covered since its release, including a notable version by American hard rock group Guns N' Roses that was recorded in 1994 and featured in the closing credits of Neil Jordan's film adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. It was also the theme music to one of director Michael Mann's earliest works, the 1979 made-for-television film The Jericho Mile, written by Patrick J. Nolan and starring Peter Strauss.

The name is also used for one session of the popular anime Cowboy Bebop, in a tribute to the original (many sessions of Bebop are named for famous songs).

Spanish pop ska group The Refrescos released an album named Simpatía por el débil (Sympathy for the weak one), a pun on the song title, in 1991.

Remix

In September 2003, ABKCO Records released a remix single of the original song featuring radio and remix versions by The Neptunes, Fatboy Slim, and Full Phatt.

Track listing

  1. "Sympathy For The Devil" - The Neptunes radio edit
  2. "Sympathy For The Devil" - The Neptunes extended remix
  3. "Sympathy For The Devil" - Fatboy Slim radio edit
  4. "Sympathy For The Devil" - Fatboy Slim extended remix
  5. "Sympathy For The Devil" - Full Phatt radio edit
  6. "Sympathy For The Devil" - Full Phatt extended remix
  7. "Sympathy For The Devil" - Original Rolling Stones version

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