What does Sympathy for the Devil mean?

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The Rolling Stones: Sympathy for the Devil Meaning

Song Released: 1969

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Sympathy for the Devil Lyrics

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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...


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    Jun 14th, 2011 6:23pm report

    "When after all
    It was you and me"

    The song refers to humankind's darkside. Evil is not "out there", but inside each one of us.


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    Nov 21st, 2011 11:24am report

    The narrator is the Devil:

    Please allow me to introduce myself
    I'm a man of wealth and taste

    The Devil has been known to "introduce" himself to many different people, often under the form of a rich man

    I've been around for a long, long year
    Stole many a mans soul and faith

    He has existed almost as long as God has, and is known for corrupting people or "stealing their faith", and condemning their soul to hell

    And I was round when jesus christ
    Had his moment of doubt and pain

    This was when Jesus was on the cross and said why have you forsaken me god? it was a moment of great pain, as he again "lost his faith"

    Made damn sure that pilate
    Washed his hands and sealed his fate

    Pontius Pilate was the man who judged Jesus in court, and was disgusted when the crime he was condemned for was being the son of God, and all of the Jewish priests yelled guilty. He said "I wash my hands of this", which is the origin of the saying.

    I stuck around st. petersburg
    When I saw it was a time for a change

    Russian revolution started in St. Petersburg

    Killed the czar and his ministers
    Anastasia screamed in vain

    The royal family were taken from their palace and killed by the secret police

    I rode a tank
    Held a generals rank
    When the blitzkrieg raged
    And the bodies stank

    A German manoeuvre, using tanks to overwhelm the enemy. It was very violent and the generals in the Nazi army were known to be very nationalistic, and some would say the embodiment of the devil.

    I watched with glee
    While your kings and queens
    Fought for ten decades
    For the gods they made

    One hundred year war between France and England, lots of people died

    I shouted out,
    Who killed the kennedys?
    When after all
    It was you and me

    Assassination of the Kennedys. He said that he shot them, because it was an evil act

    Just as every cop is a criminal

    The cops do good, so he considers them to be criminals

    And all the sinners saints

    Same concept

    As heads is tails

    Opposites are reversed

    Just call me lucifer
    Cause I'm in need of some restraint

    He says it right here, people...

    So if you meet me
    Have some courtesy
    Have some sympathy, and some taste

    "Have some sympathy" for me. The song is called sympathy for the DEVIL

    Use all your well-learned politesse
    Or I'll lay your soul to waste

    If you do not respect him he'll bring you to hell

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
    But what's puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game

    He's told you all about the nature of his game, in the verses, so have you correctly guessed his name?...


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    May 4th, 2011 5:43pm report

    it always reminds me of the first encounter betwean faust and mephistopheles, the dark side of his soul in goethes faust 1.
    when faust asked the man of world for his name and he replied that its a bad question for a wise man, so faust guesed right that he is (a)liar and cheater(meaning of mephistopheles). which amuses m so they continue a conversation were the clue is always that m argues so near to trueth that its hard to tell the difference, always looking for the weak spot called selfbetrayal

    woh wooh goes the blak dog as which m disguiesed himself to folow f. to his roome when he found out that magicale sighns hindered him leaving again


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    Jul 13th, 2018 7:09pm report

    I agree with the previous, The Screwtape Letters to a T


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    Nov 6th, 2017 11:00am report

    Devil lore describes his ability to take any shape that will seduce his victim to follow him. Pontius Pilate was lured to follow the people who clamored for Christ's execution; Marxist/Leninism lured the communists into their bloody revolution; the power of murder and high rank lured the Nazis to destroy their own country; each section cites a lure and a fish that swallowed a hook and suffered.
    That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.


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    Oct 16th, 2016 10:54pm report

    The song is basically saying that people blame the Devil for all the bad stuff in the world, but in reality, it's the people themselves.


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    Oct 16th, 2016 10:41pm report

    There's 2 meanings for this song. The first being that Lucifer the devil is telling about what he's done throughout history. Wars, deaths, assassinations, and other evil things. He's telling you that you don't have to like him but you should at least respect him or else. The second possible meaning is that YOU the listener are the "devil". That god and the devil don't exist that we the human race alone did those things. "Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints" refers to that no matter how "good/holy" we think we are we're still have the possibility to become a evil monster. We still can become the devil.


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    Jun 14th, 2016 6:16pm report

    I' am trying to think from a brotherly CHRIST like conscious perspective that part of this song was[is] about understanding and feeling sorry for the sinner with patience, love and sympathy, while we should be on guard and hateing the sin committed who has been influenced by evil programming of his ego mind by the evil sins of the Elite Racists to use ''RE-LEGION'' on the fragile sheep like minds to crack and divide us to even kill ourselves. Then go figure out why and ''Who killed the Kennedys? When after all it was you and me'' Anotherwords ''we are all responsible'', meaning the wealthy Elite and down to the average poor, if we with whoever wants to win this world ''without responsibillity'' for how the other person[s] is[are] being influenced spiritually and psychologically, especially by the ones that have the ''power of information'' to express opinions and laws on this world to one another that to many times influences us to act unnaturally evil and deadly towards eachother for whatever ungodly reasons, if we don't think and act more with the loving God before we act and think tank with or like a poor little Devil to give us fame and fortune for a illuminated death.


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    Jun 10th, 2016 6:36pm report

    Behold, for we are not His children, we are but His crops. Rejoice, and lest we destroy ourselves, bear Him fruit!


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    May 2nd, 2015 5:50am report

    It is simply yin and yang. We ALL consist of dark and brightness. Hope you guess my name??? Doug. That's me.


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    Oct 9th, 2014 10:33pm report

    I thought it was common knowledge that the song was influenced by 'The Master and Margarita' by Bulgakov. If you read it you will see what I mean and the lyrics will become abundantly clear. Also, you will find that the song has referenced the book. It is a fantastic book too with several layers, worth reading. BTW the book also influenced The Eagles when they wrote Hotel California.


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    Jun 8th, 2014 6:59am report

    I have to agree "after all, it was you and me".

    It's not the devil, it's not the demagogues. It's the average everyday citizen that allows these atrocities since the beginning of time. What Sinclair Lewis called the "Doremus Jessup"


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    Oct 6th, 2013 10:01pm report

    The song is titled sympathy for the devil and yet over and over again in the chorus the charactee challenges you to guess his name. The final verse goes through a series of characters by nameing them the opposite of whom they are (cops=criminals, sinners=saints) and then follows with "as heads is tails (another opposite) just call me lucifer"..... So if heads = tails, then Lucifer = God. He tells you he is lucifer but repeatedly challenges you to guess his name implying that the name he's giving you usnt the right one. Thats because it isnt lucifer its god.


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    Aug 25th, 2013 8:41pm report

    OK, It's 'Satan'- (it's name). The lyrics are saying 'it' (I don't believe it's a he or she) has been around at least 2000 years and performing/causing/instigating countless crimes against humanity. If you are looking at it through the lens of the Judeo-Christian programing you would assume I am talking in terms of 'Satan' or 'The Devil' being an evil spirit. To me they are obviously cryptically (because they aren't stupid) talking about the 'Illuminati conspiracy'. If you would consider that 'Satan' or 'the Beast' maybe as referred to in THE BIBLE, is this same conspiracy. I am not a Cristian but I do believe THE BIBLE gives us many clues to what is going on. We are warned, 'SATAN will deceive you'. It makes SO much more sense if 'SATAN' is a CULT than a supernatural being.

    One more thing, if as it says in Revelations, 'the Devil sends The Beast with wrath, then we have multiple entities here, so what is what? Maybe that should have called 'Sympathy with THE BEAST'.

    Take a look at these and see if it makes any more sense.

    IRON MAIDEN 'Revelations'
    RUSH 'Distant Early Warning'


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    Feb 2nd, 2013 2:43pm report

    Who's to blame? What's my name? Whats the nature of my game? You're to blame. You should know your own name. In a way we are the devil,and caused everything you consider evil, or, if you're religious I guess another answer would be: We fall under the devils influence.


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    Dec 9th, 2012 12:18am report

    What's interesting is that none of the writers mentions C.S. Lewis and "The Screwtape Letters." Lewis's book is a collection of essays supposedly written by a minor demon (Screwtape) to the other devils. In it, Screwtape reveals the grand Satanic plan for the domination of the world throughout history.

    This song is simply the "Screwtape Letters" in song form. Although it critiques human behavior, as well, that bad human behavior dovetails with the devils' plan for humanity. Man makes himself an easier target through his own violence and greed. Although people think of this song as "Satanist," if you really probe a little further, it's actually one of the most profoundly Christian songs ever written.


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    Nov 28th, 2012 11:13am report

    I have a hard time buying the 100 year war reference. This war was a dispute over the French crown not religion. The 10 decades is a more likely reference to the Crusades.


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    Aug 18th, 2012 8:07pm report

    The interpretation is very obvious and it's humorous to look at the replies here debating history.

    But if you'd like some first-hand knowledge, I'm an acquaintence of Keith Richards and asked him about the origins of the song. As a good friend of his son Marlon he answered me frankly and honestly.

    This song is about substance abuse couched in historical events. Substance abuse was part of the Rolling Stones early on as they gained fame, and like many recovering addicts and alcoholics they struggled with it. The substance was the Devil and it will "lay your soul to waste" but substance can be so seductive that the user respects and sympathizes with it. The events represented by historical references were merely a way to show the progression and constant presence.

    You can believe me or not but I know the man and these are the words and the meaning from the man who wrote it. The reason I asked him about it is I'm struggling as well. I did not nor will not ask about other songs. Keith enjoys his days still playing but most enjoys his citrus trees. He's also a fanatic of the Weather Channel. A very remarkable man if you get past the media's drug-addled image of him. And did anyone know his neighbor is Rod Stewart who has one of the most impressive model train setups in the world?

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