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Sympathy For The Devil

by

The Rolling Stones



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This perpetuated the image of the Stones as frightening bad boys, as opposed to the clean-cut Beatles. It was great marketing for the band.
The lyrics were inspired by The Master and Margarita, a book by Mikhail Bulgakov. British singer Marianne Faithfull was Mick Jagger's girlfriend at the time and she gave him the book. Faithfull came from an upper-class background and exposed Jagger to a lot of new ideas. In the book, the devil is a sophisticated socialite, a "man of wealth and taste."
Jagger claims this is about the dark side of man, not a celebration of Satanism.
A documentary by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard called One Plus One captured the recording of this song, which took place over five days: June 5, 6, 8 - 10, 1968. At one point, a lamp for the documentary started a fire in the studio. The tapes were saved, but a lot of the Stones' equipment was destroyed. (thanks, Rich - Midland Park, NJ)
The original title was "The Devil Is My Name." Says Jagger: "Songs can metamorphasize. And Sympathy for the Devil is one of those songs that started off like one thing, I wrote it one way and then we started the change the rhythm. And then it became completely different. And then it got very exciting. It started off as a Folk song and then became a Samba. A good song can become anything. It's got lots of historical references and lots of poetry."
Keith Richards (2002): "Sympathy is quite an uplifting song. It's just a matter of looking the Devil in the face. He's there all the time. I've had very close contact with Lucifer - I've met him several times. Evil - people tend to bury it and hope it sorts itself out and doesn't rear its ugly head. Sympathy for the Devil is just as appropriate now, with 9/11. There it is again, big time. When that song was written, it was a time of turmoil. It was the first sort of international chaos since World War II. And confusion is not the ally of peace and love. You want to think the world is perfect. Everybody gets sucked into that. And as America has found out to its dismay, you can't hide. You might as well accept the fact that evil is there and deal with it any way you can. Sympathy for the Devil is a song that says, Don't forget him. If you confront him, then he's out of a job." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
The Stones played this at the Altamont Speedway concert in 1969 before a fan was fatally stabbed. The crowd got more unruly as the song went on. The Stones were playing "Under My Thumb" when the stabbing occurred, but they did not perform "Sympathy For The Devil" for 7 years after the incident due to the public outcry.
Some of the historical events mentioned in this song are the crucifixion of Christ, the Russian Revolution, World War II, and the Kennedy Assassinations. Robert Kennedy was killed after this was written, but they changed the lyrics to get in the timely reference.
Other historical events alluded to in the song include the 100 years war ("fought for ten decades") and the Holocaust ("and the furnace stank"). (thanks, Phil - Rochester, NY)
The "Whoo-Whoo" backing vocals were added when Richard's girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, did it during a take and the Stones liked how it sounded. Pallenberg sang this on the record along with Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Marianne Faithfull and Jimmy Miller. (thanks, Rich - Midland Park, NJ)
Stones producer Jimmy Miller: "Anita (Pallenberg) was the epitome of what was happening at the time. She was very Chelsea. She'd arrive with the elite film crowd. During Sympathy for the Devil when I started going whoo, whoo in the control room, so did they I had the engineer set up a mike so they could go out in the studio and whoo, whoo." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
On their 1989 Steel Wheels tour, The Stones performed this with Jagger standing high above the stage next to a fire. Mick wore a safety belt in case he fell.
The Stones performed this on Rock and Roll Circus, a British TV special The Stones taped in 1968 but never aired. It was released on video in 1995. During the performance, Jagger removes his shirt to reveal devil tattoos on his chest and arms.
Guns 'N' Roses covered this in 1994 for the move Interview With The Vampire (the song appears at the end of the movie, which stars Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and a young Kirsten Dunst). Their version hit #9 in England, and marked the first appearance of their new guitarist Paul Huge (rhymes with "boogie" - he later went by "Tobias"), who replaced Gilby Clarke. Axl Rose brought in Huge, and it caused considerable conflict in the band, which broke apart over the next few year. At one point, Matt Sorum called Huge "the Yoko Ono of GNR."

In our 2013 interview with Gilby Clarke, he recalls this recording as a signal that the band was over. "I knew that that was the ending because nobody told me about it," he said. "Officially I was in the band at that time, and they did that song without me. That was one of the last straws for me, because nobody had said anything to me and they recorded a song by one of my favorite bands. It was pretty clear I'm a big Stones fan, and they recorded the song without me. So I knew that was it."
The beat is based on a Samba rhythm. Says Richards: "Sympathy for the Devil started as sort of a folk song with acoustics, and ended up as a kind of mad samba, with me playing bass and overdubbing the guitar later. That's why I don't like to go into the studio with all the songs worked out and planned beforehand."
The opening lines of this song, "Please allow me to introduce myself I'm a man of wealth and taste" were quoted by The Devil character (played by actor Rick Collins) in the film The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie. (thanks, Jeff - Haltom City, TX)
In 2003, The Stones released this as a "maxi-single," with four versions of the song. The original was on there, as well as remixes by The Neptunes, Fatboy Slim, and Full Phatt.
The industrial band Laibach released an entire album containing different covers of this. The character and tone of the Laibach covers are largely very different from the Stones original. In the opening track the lead singer sings/shouts in a very deep bass voice with a thick Slavic accent. One of their covers contains references to the violence at the Altamont raceway.
Some other worthy covers: Sandra Bernhard, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Bryan Ferry, Jane's Addiction, The London Symphony Orchestra, Natalie Merchant, U2. (thanks, Neal - Cleveoh, OH)
One verse of lyrics was recited by Intel Vice President Steve McGeady during his testimony in Microsoft's antitrust trial in November 1998. McGeady had written a memo about Microsoft with the subject "Sympathy For The Devil," and when asked whether he was calling Microsoft the devil, McGeady recited the passage about using your well-learned politesse. (thanks, Keith - Seattle, WA)
In his book Mystery Train, Greil Marcus states that this was influenced by Robert Johnson's song "Me and the Devil Blues." Keith Richards describes Johnson's influence as "Like a comet or a meteor" in the liner notes to Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings. (thanks, elijah - Cincinnati, OH)
The "Troubadours who got killed before they reached Bombay" refers to the hippies who traveled the "Hippie Trail" by road. Many on them were killed and ripped off by drug peddlers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Those shady deals were probably the "traps." (thanks, Jose - Minneapolis, MN)
Jagger (1995): "It has a very hypnotic groove, a samba, which has a tremendous hypnotic power, rather like good dance music. It doesn't speed up or down. It keeps this constant groove. Plus, the actual samba rhythm is a great one to sing on, but it's also got some other suggestions in it, an undercurrent of being primitive - because it is a primitive African, South American, Afro-whatever-you-call-that rhythm. So to white people, it has a very sinister thing about it. But forgetting the cultural colors, it is a very good vehicle for producing a powerful piece. It becomes less pretentious because it's a very unpretentious groove. If it had been done as a ballad, it wouldn't have been as good."
Jagger (1995): "I knew it was a good song. You just have this feeling. It had its poetic beginning, and then it had historic references and then philosophical jottings and so on. It's all very well to write that in verse, but to make it into a pop song is something different. Especially in England - you're skewered on the altar of pop culture if you become pretentious." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
In 2006, this was included in The National Review magazine's list of the 50 most conservative Rock lyrics. They claimed that this is an anti-Communist, conservative song and that the devil being referred to is Communist Russia.
The opening line was used in Volume 2 of 10 of the graphic novel V For Vendetta. (thanks, Ryan - Largo, FL)
This song was used for a title of a episode of the anime series Cowboy Bebop. "Honky Tonk Women" is also the title of an episode. (thanks, Nathan - Dillsburg, PA)
In the TV series Will and Grace, The character Karen states that she always wanted to walk down the aisle when she got married for the fourth time to "Sympathy For The Devil." When her husband-to-be refuses, she fights with him. (thanks, Chicklet - New York, NY)
The line "And I laid traps for troubadours who get killed before they reach Bombay" possibly refers to the notorious Thuggee cult, who worshiped Kali, the Hindu goddess of death. They would waylay travelers on the roads of India, then kill the entire group in order to make off with their valuables. This seems to be the closest well known historical incident to fit the lyrics. Also, the Thuggee would have been well known in England, since the British Army put a stop to the cult during the colonial period. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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Comments (181):

I have a story about this song. I'm Australian but I speak Japanese. When I lived in Fukuoka Japan in the 90s (1995 I think?) I was recruited by a local company to translate for the Stones roadies when they were setting up the stage for the Voodoo Lounge tour. They flew in huge containers with all the equipment that they had to set up - the set was so big it took three days of basically non stop working (I worked 12 hour days but the roadies told me they worked around the clock). I also translated for the cook who had to buy all the food locally which was fun. Anyway the girl I was working with and I were young and not bad looking so the lighting tower guys invited us up there to watch the concert. I wasn't really into the Stones and I didn't even know this song: they told me to move the lighting switches up and down in time to the "woo woo" and I realised I was doing the stage lighting. I did it the whole song and I will always remember this song because of that. It was a great concert and I got a fantastic view for free. And no we didn't sleep with them.
- Aleta, Sydney, Australia
It ain't Jimmy Page doing the solo. In Godard's One Plus One documentary, Richards is working on the solo and you can hear the sound and melodies/riff very early in the process of the construction of the song. Also, it sounds to me like Jagger is singing, exactly, "washed his gads; concealed his face." Regardless that the official lyrics makes more sense.
- Jeff, Scarborough, ON
The song Sympathy for the Devil seemed strong in its logic till it came to this line – the killing of troubadours before they reached Bombay. I can hardly recall any troubadour coming to India through the Gateway of India. Troubadours are travelling musicians. Some defend the line saying troubadours refer to The Beatles. They became mystical in their song writing after coming to India, losing touch with reality and the commom man.
- Brian Foley, Auckland, New Zealand
I love the fact that this is the only rock & roll song to use the word "politesse."
- Stephen, New York, NY
It's the 21st century and how many of you are still wrapped up in gods and satan? It's time to come out of your caves. If there is anything inherently "evil," it's human beings' dependence on religion as a source of moral behavior. As one blogger astutely explained, the Stones' song focuses on human atrocity throughout history. They have sung about a "devil" and he (or she) is us.
- Andre, New York, NY
I was watching the "Shine a Light" concert last night (Thanksgiving night) on VH1 classic. Wow, did Keith butcher this song. I think my cousin said it best, "He plays like a f--kin' ameture!" Seriously, could someone who's seen the movie tell me if he was always this bad or if he just killed his musical ability through years of drug abuse?
- Zero, Nowhere, NJ
FINALLY after almost thirty years of listening to this song I have learned what "I laid traps for Troubadours who get killed before they reached Bombay" means. It is my favorite Rolling Stones song and has been from the moment I first heard it. Say what you want about Mick Jagger, he can write some great lyrics.
- Mark, Norman, OK
Wow some people are way out there on the meanings of this song. Basically I see it as pretty simple. It is showing the dark side of man, much like what Jagger is quoted above.

To whoever it was that said something about furnaces stinking, the lines are. " I rode a tank with a general's rank while the Blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank" which is sorta related to the holocaust but not specifically.
BTW the idea that this has to do with Russia/communism/conservationism is retarded.
- Peter, BCC, AZ
If you look up "troubadours" you'll find that a troubadour is a composer during the middle ages. so it is possible that the rolling stones were talking about the Beatles going to India, referring to the Beatles as troubadours.
- Remmick, Indianapolis, IN
I don't like this song! And it's not the religious thing, I just don't feel well listening it maybe I am too close to that "the dark side of man" like Mick Jagger says one of this quotes, and I don't to be in the dark.
- Roberta Trevisan, S?o Paulo, Brazil
Of course who is playing the lead is one of those great mysteries. Keith's playing has always been more stylish than showy -- more like Miles Davis to Clapton or Page's Chet Baker. Personally it sounds much more like the Clapton of the Abbey Road Suite than Page. It could just as easily be Jeff Beck or even perhaps the other 'Jimi' (who played jam sessions with Bryan and Dave Mason at that time) .
- paul, boston, MA
Joe in Minneapolis, with all due respect I think "I lay traps for troubadors/who get killed before they reach Bombay" is a reference to Dacoit or Thugee (root of 'thug'), the sanctioned murder of travelers by votaries of Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Death. Victims of dacoit frequently welcomed these attacks, believing that they would be reborn up-caste. In the 1840s it, along with Suttee, the burning of (living) wives alongside their dead husbands, became a cause celebre in the British Press, and unleashed a flood of Methodist missionaries to convert the heathens of Hindoostan, which in turn had the undesired effect of awakening Indian Nationalism.

Three years earlier, the Beatles brilliantly parodied this cult in "Help!"
- paul, boston, MA
In my opinion, the end of the song ("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 restrain") plainly states that God and Satan are the one and same person. Heads is tails, cops are criminals, sinners are saints, opposites are equals and good is evil. Being called Lucifer is indeed humbler and more restrained than claiming the title of God. And the nature of his game, playing at being both ultimate good and ultimate evil, is most puzzling...
- Endy, Paris, France
wasn't this written around the time Maryann Faithful & Mick were hanging out with the Process Church? I know a little about them & their belief was that if you believe in God you must believe in Satan & respect him just the same, which is what these lyrics kinda say
- LoLo, Pembroke Pines, FL
Awesome song, if you blow the heads of all the mannequins in the Call of Duty: Black Ops map Nuketown, this song starts playing.
- Joshka, Alkmaar, Netherlands
"mark", from stockton, CA: first, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is a total fraud. Everyone knows that—except you, I guess. Second, this song has absolutely nothing to do with your antisemitism and moronic conspiracy theories.
- Chris, Westerly, RI
Mr. Ken, Boneville, MS, MS. If you are a great Stones fan as you claim to be, you would know that JIMMY MILLER produced albums for the stones in that era. That is the Jimmy Mick is calling out to when he says 'get down, Jimmy', the one who was on the other side of the glass partition. And yes, I accept that on the guitar, Keith technically doesn't hold a candle to Page, but this riff has Keith stamped all over it. Like someone else here put it, it's groovy and that's how Keith plays. You have very unfunny retardation, it seems.
- Ron, Chennai, India
Listen real close and u can hear Mick say "GET DOWN JIMMY". Jimmy Page played the solo. Sorry Keith but dont think u could play that riff. U've never done it again even on Rock n Roll Circus. But Keith did a great bass part. Brian originally played an acoustic guitar part but it wasnt used or even recorded. I am a great Stones fan but they did have help on certain songs. Even John Lennon & Paul McCartney helped them with WE LOVE YOU.
- Ken, Booneville,MS, MS
Ok, here goes, I know this is not the original
meaning behind this song however, after many
years from its start, it has perfectly described
Corperate America.
Wrong is right... and right...is wrong.
Every cop is a criminal... and definently all the
the siners are saints.
If you have not mastered the art of patronising
(Ass kissing), then your still in the devils power.
Try to do the right thing, and someone will take credit for it.. save the company $300,000 a year,
and expect someone in that higher position to take complete credit for your discovery.
NO, you have not done enough... is what anyone without colledge credentials will be treated with.
Sympathty is the backward way.

In Coporate America.
- Michael, Plainfield, IL
The solo in this song was done by jimmy page a tireless sessions player at the time, which was right before zeppelin. It is very obvious to most guitar players.
- Jack, Bristol, TN
Wow. Can't believe some of the misinformation people have posted as comments....Specifically by the religious wing nuts.

The song is not anti-christian or pro-evil. It's about the atrocities in the history of mankind, and how we should conduct ourselves when faced with them in the future ("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").

The lyrics' focus, however, is on atrocities in the history of mankind, including European wars of religion ("I watched with glee while your kings and queens fought for ten decades for the Gods they made"), the violence of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the 1918 massacre of the Romanov family ("I stuck around St. Petersburg when I saw it was a time for a change, killed the Tsar and his ministers -- Anastasia screamed in vain") and World War II ("I rode a tank, held a general's rank when the Blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank").

The lyrics also refer to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. The recording sessions for the track were in progress when the latter was killed, and the words were changed from "Who killed Kennedy?" to "who killed the Kennedys?"
- Ian, San Francisco, CA
Aleister Crowley,...face is on the upper left hand corner of the
Beatles, Sgt. Peppers cover! Being that he was so involved with
that seemingly 'clean cut group', his connection with the Rolling Stones is obvious, but why? What is the connection of all this well known 'evil' in the world and 'music?' We know that Lucifer was at one time God's, heavenly praise and music minister, even so much that instruments were physically part of his body! The young are easily deceived, so be very wary; Decembers Children
- Rick, Orlando, FL
I was there listening very closely to all the popular music of that
era,...some was good, some was bad and some was ugly. I am a "Spirit filled Christian" now and I am not here to convince you
of what 'good and evil' is, or is not. God, gave all of us a very good conscience to discern "good from evil". You make the call about 'satin and his angels', but remember, they were once with
God, in heaven and will 'never be again', and yes 'evil is very real' in the world,...so enjoy, but beware, "All is not as it seems!"
- Rick, Orlando, FL
The 1968 Beatles were clean-cut?
- Wade, Katy, TX
ROLLING STONES' Keith Richards admits to having a demon in him. Mick Jagger has tattoos of the devil on his body
They admit to being into Satanist Aleister Crowley's teaching
ROLLING STONES wrote the song 'Jumpin Jack Flash' based on what Jagger learned from Satanist Aleister Crowley
ROLLING STONES wrote the album 'Their Satanic Majesties Request'
The Rolling Stones' founder Brian Jones spent considerable time in Joujouka recording. The Stones' 1989 release "Steel Wheels"
features samples of this Moroccan form of voodoo. Haitian voodoo was also used on the Stones' album Goat's Head Soup.
The early Stones, for example, bank-rolled an occult sect call "The Process" and provided a base of operations for their
satanic evangelism. (Contact America radio broadcast, September 15, 1986) Later, Anita Pallenberg, an aspiring actress and
accomplished witch, became the companion of first Jagger and then Keith Richards. In July of 1979, at Richards' Connecticut
estate, an 18-year-old boy shot himself while lying in Pallenberg's bed. Investigating officers uncovered reports of weird rituals
and sacrificed animals that led up to the suicide. (Rock and Roll Babylon, Courage Books, 1982, Gary Herman, p. 125;
The Rolling Stones The First Twenty Years, Knopf, 1981, David Dalton, p. 148) The Stones were further involved with a cult film
maker and satanist Kenneth Anger. Jagger scored Anger's film "Invocation of My Demon Brother" and Anita Pallenberg
sponsored "Lucifer Rising", a movie that showed "the actual ceremonies to make Lucifer rise." Not coincidentally, the film
starred rock singer Marianne Faithful, another ex-girlfriend of Mick Jagger. Stones, p.155) While in England, Anger worked
on the film Lucifer Rising,dedicated to Aleister Crowley. The film brought together the Process Church, the Manson
Family cult, and the Rolling Stones. The music for the film was composed by Mick Jagger. Mick Jagger who was labeled by
Newsweek as the "Lucifer of Rock" and the "unholy roller," said: "There are black magicians who think we are acting as
unknown agents of Lucifer." Process Church follower Marianne Faithfull went all the way to Egypt to participate in the film's
depiction of a Black Mass. The part of Lucifer was played by a guitarist of a California rock group, Bobby Beausoleil.
Beausoleil was a member of the Manson Family, and Anger's homosexual lover. A few months after filming under Anger's
direction in England, Beausoleil returned to California to commit the first of the Manson family's series of gruesome murders.
Beausoleil was later arrested and is now serving a life sentence in prison along with Manson.
- roy, Redondo Beach, CA
Right before they start playing "Sympathy" on "Ya-Ya's", there's a girl yelling: "Paint it black! Paint it black! Paint it black, you devil!" That recording of the girl is also thrown in on "Flashpoint" right after "Ruby Tuesday" and before "You can't always get what you want"
- Krk, Stockholm, Sweden
Years ago, I finally came to the conclusion that this is not a celebration of Satan, as some of my evangelical Christian peers seem to think. It is about how Satan is behind chaos and tragedy in this world. Keith Richards' 2002 quote above supports this understanding of the song. Musically, this is another example of how the Stones are the best band of all time at building the intensity level throughout the course of a song.
- Mark, McHenry, IL
i personally love the stones. this song (if you really listen, hint hint) is about yin and yang. the whole every cop is a criminal and all the sinner saints portion of the song is showing that there is no good without bad and no light without dark etc. and im not exactally sure about the whole troubador reference.
- BOB, Albuquerque, NM
This song is an anthem written and sung in worshipful adoration for Satan. Plain and simple, it smacks of Nazism, disdain for life and in whole disdain for Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for the human race. Anyone who believes differently is a dunderhead.
- Melinda Wheeler, Jacksonville, FL
Devo actually did a killer version of Satisfaction that Mick approved of.
- Rick, Brooklyn, NY, NY
It's "use all your well-earned politesse" (ability to finesse), no "politics"
- Rick, Brooklyn, NY, NY
Just to clarify: the lines "I rode a tank, held a general's rank when the Blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank" are a direct reference to WWII and Hitler, who held a general's rank.
- Mike, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
I seriously consider this one of the best songs ever written, lyrically and musically. Genius lyrics paired with excellent instrumentals, nothing even compares to this.
- Phoebe, Belchertown, MA
in the video of the stones preforming this song at the nightclub, we see John Lennon there rather enjoying himself!
- gary, denver, CO
It is eveident that none of you have heard Ozzy's version, if you had, you would certainly forget everything else. By far blows the rest away.
- Mike, Traverse City, MI
Just for the record, Slash absolutely hated the G n' R version of this song. He said it was an AXL ego trip and the band just meandered their way through it and that the final version sucked.
- Matt, Boston, MA
Does anyone know why The King of Sweden is mentioned in the lyrics?
- Ferdinand, Utrecht, Netherlands
With 50 million or more dead in WWII, the bodies stank reference would seem logical to follow the reference to the Blitz. Blitz the overall war, bodies the most blatant symbol, the holocaust. Those others who say it is Elders of Zion are smoking their socks!
- mark, des moines,
Actually troubadors may have been a reference to the remnants of the tantric Gyuto monks of the 100 man choir from Tibet, fleeing the Chinese in 1959. They fled to India over those Afghan and Pakistan passes...10 of 100 survived. Mickey Hart recorded them eventually. Their historical reference: "troubadors."
- mark, des moines,
No matter how this song in interpreted or by whom, it is by far the best damn Rock and Roll song ever written. The guitar ride is nasty and the bass and background singers are awesome. Whoo whoo!!! There will never be another classic like this one.
- Thomas, Somerville, AL
the song is about Luciferians trying to manipulate people throughout history.
- Thomas, Arkham, MA
Despite what Phill in Rochestr sates the lyrics "furnanace stank" is not found in the song. He delibratly misquotes teh lyruics there is no reference to any holocaust, like he claims.
- Thomas, Arkham, MA
Looking back on a song like this is not the same as writing it. The late 60s were REALLY DIFFERENT than now, especially from the Stones's perspective, being at the center of everything that was happening. Back in the 60s, you could say things like, "the devil gets blamed for what we humans do" -- say that now, and the fundamentalists will be all over you.
- emily, detroit, MI
this song is amazing, and i go to catholic school.
- cynthia, scranton, PA
this song is totally going to play at my funeral.
- Kirsten, Cape Town, South Africa
This is from http://toase.net/archives/000383.php
...the god Kali is often portrayed as a disembodied mouth and tongue. This was the inspiration for the iconic Rolling Stones logo. Also the followers of Kali are known to be violent and would kill pilgrims in India. This is referenced in the RS song Sympathy for the Devil when they say "And I laid traps for troubadors
Who get killed before they reached Bombay."
- Colin, Montreal, QC
Use all your well-learned politics
Or, I'll lay your sould to waste!
trans: be good, or I @#$% you up!
- Jeff, Casa Grande, AZ
It's "Bible" and "Offends"

Go to English class before fiction class
- Luke, Manchester, England
this song is insane. i love it.
- Rosario, Naples, FL
i have a story about this song it was bad.

a couple of days ago my friend asked me to come to bibble school with her and i dodn't go to church so it was a new thing. we got there and a man behind a counter noticed my skirt and it said the rolling stones. he asked what my fav. song was and with out thinking i said sympathy for the devil the man just looked at me and said interesting then i relized what i said and turnd red then i said i like the guitar solos not the words. after that i didn't say anything. i'm so sorry if that afinds anyone.
- ashley, Quincy, IL
"Sympathy For The Devil" - would be a great soundtrack to accompany the book 'I, Lucifer' or the film adaptation...
- Kym, Yishun, Singapore
The Pharrel version of this songs sucks. It's the Stones with some giant bass added in to drown out the Stones. Sorry, Mick and Keith have more soul than you dude... in fact, I would say that the Stones are at least as soulful as anything I've ever heard (from Chuck Berry to Marvin Gaye). I'm just saying... white people get this rap of being squares. Mick may speak a little different, but he is one funky mother.
- Joe, Seattle, WA
Johnathan... keith may have been good in the day but slash is still going and knows how to put on a good concert. all keith did was just stand there and talk
- neil, ayr,
I don't care if you think this song is good or not, "Sympathy for the Devil?" I don't think so.
- madison, Moscow, Malaysia
MAGGIE FROM HIGH BRIDGE,NJ YOUR TEACHER IS WRONG AND IT IS NOT POETRY....POETRY IS FOR WANKERS
- BRIAN, BOSTON, MA
YE OF SO MUCH MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE GREATEST ROCK 'N' ROLL BAND IN THE WORLD... CAN'T YOU HEAR ME KNOCKING IS ONE OF THE CLASSICS BECAUSE IT CAPTURES MICK TAYLOR AT HIS BEST
- BRIAN, BOSTON, MA
SO MANY PEOPLE...YET SO LITTLE KNOWLEDGE
- BRIAN, BOSTON, MA
NOBODY CAN COVER A STONES SONG AND MAKE IT SOUND GOOD...PERIOD
- BRIAN, BOSTON, MA
RORY FROM VICTORIA,CANADA IT WAS NOT A RELIGIOUS FACTOR BUT A CIVIL WAR OF FAMILIES....THIS IS WHY CANADIANS COME TO AMERICA ...TO LEARN
- BRIAN, BOSTON, MA
TO ALL YOU WELL EARNED POLITESSE THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR LASTED 116 YEARS
- BRIAN, BOSTON, MA
We studied this song in a creative writing class and the teacher told us that the Stones were referring to the Beatles when they talked about the trubadors. This is hand down the best Stones and perhaps the most creative piece of poetry, yes I said poetry, that has ever been written
- maggie, high bridge, NJ
this is almost the best stone song ever!! Keith's guitar solo is grovy.
- ashley, Quincy, IL
Even though it's "bodies" and not "furnace", I think it still references the Holocaust since it comes right after the Blitzkrieg line. "The bodies stank" would make more sense as a reference to the Holocaust than the Blitzkrieg.
- Scott, Boston, MA
Try this for years when I heard this it sounded just like the book "Cassius", A highlander stile inmortal, Gaius Cassius Longinus was the Roman soldier that stabbed Jesus Christ on the cross
Jesus looked down and said "as you are now, is as you will be till my return" and all he knew was to be a soldiering and did that down the centuries.
- markus, nashville, TN
It does not reference the Holocaust, since the lyric is "and the bodies stank" not the "furnace"
- nathan, from the country of, Canada
still dont understand that 4 troubadors line though
- Tim, Philadelphia, PA
The original is best but the Guns N' Roses cover is also sweet.

a genius piece of music
- Tim, Philadelphia, PA
The song is a warning about how evil come's in various forms and is not easy recognisable. "Hope you guess my name" isn't Mick hoping you'll answer "you're the devil", it's the devil taunting you to call out who (or what) is evil in this world: is it Cheney, Saddam, Putin, the Pope, whoever. You need to ask yourself that question.

"And what's puzzing you is the nature of my game". For it's not the devil who does all the bad things in the world, the nature of his game is have people like YOU doing it. That's his game.
- john, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Doesn't anybody get it???????
"Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners Saints...and heads is tails just call me Lucifer.....
It's not evil speaking...it's good.
It's all Yin and Yang...2 sides to the same coin. You can't have good without evil...and you can't have evil without good.
- Kaj, benton, PA
Fantastic song and i like also Guns 'n' Roses cover. What about you ?
- Paul, Athens, Greece
One word: classic. The Stones are the best!
- Andrew, Bartlett, TN
Actually they did not rerecord the song when Bobby Kennedy died and changed the lyrics to "Kennedy's" (plural)as some people think. Mick Jagger messed up and accidentally said it plural, which of course turned out to be very starnge later when the second Kennedy (Bobby) was also shot
- Charles, Houston, TX
Gotta Love The Stones.
- Andrew, Los Angeles, CA
I know this will probably start an argument with many stones worshipers, though I am one too, the great guitar solo on "Sympathy for the Devil" is not Keith Richards but Roy Buccanon. I offer the following reasons to beleive that is true. 1. First and foremost, the style and attack is immistakably Roys. 2. Roy was mentioned, back in the day, as being one of the session players used on this album. 3. It was normal practice in those days to not credit extra players. In fact the stones were great for that. Did you also know that it's Jimmy Page playing the guitar solo on "Time is on my side"?? Keith claims Page played on the original session but he re-recorded the solo himself playing Jimmys part, note for note. They would always say that to avoid fan fallout, who these thing really meant alot to. There are also a number of other stones recordings that are known for a fact to have session musicians on them. Another is the guitar solo on "Hand of Fate". I forget the guitarist name on that one though. None of this takes away from their talent and vision, I just think it is important to musicians in particular to understand how hard it is to get just the right solo on for a particular song, and sometimes everyone needs someone elses touch.
- Tom, Pittsburgh, PA
pharrell made a remix to this its the bomb
- barbra, stockton, Hong Kong
'And I laid traps for troubadors who got killed before they reached Bombay' is probably a reference to the Thugee cult, devoted to Kali, the goddess of death, active in India for hundreds of years before being supressed in the 1850's.
- steve, albany, NY
the song portrays the new world order
- mark, stockton, CA
The song is about the "New World Order", the illuminati. Read "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion"
- mark, stockton, CA
1 of about 10,000 reasons why the Stones are the greatest.
- Craig, melbourne, Australia
All of you trying to get the idea of this song should visit http://www.reasontorock.com/tracks/sympathy.html

About covers, please read
http://www.reasontorock.com/tracks/watchtower.html for one of a very few covers which are far better than the original

Rock on!
- StonesFanSinceChild, Sofia, Bulgaria
Best version is definitively on Ya Ya's Out.

Charlie Watts is incredible and the two solos by Richards and Taylor are anthology.

Both versions have to be played loud.
- R, Montreal, QC, Canada
Keith Richards has said that the song's rhythm is a samba, but to me it sounds more like an Afro-Cuban rhythm . And Jagger said that they used and "Afro whatever you call it type rhythm" (which tells me that The Rolling Stones still have no idea till this day what the hell they were doing and just went with the flow while a real musician/s did the hard labor for the song).
- Miguel, cincinnati, OH
I don't know if anyone has noticed or not, but at the beggining of the song there's a lady clearly laughing or something in the background (as Mick is going: huh! guh! hum hu hum!). And then towards the end of the song there's a real deep growl going: huuuaaooo... And a lady moaning and growling: huummm.... Haaaaaaaaaaaa....! As though she's being pleasured. There are other sounds sort of like people screaming almost all throughout the song, but faintly in the background.

Does anyone know the meaning of what that's supposed to mean or stand for.
- Miguel, cincinnati, OH
I love the song and the movie for it. I don't really like were they cut out the time they are in the studio to show the actual film part, but it is great to see Brian there. The Rolling Stones Rock!!!!
- Shannan, Wilmington, DE
Lol.....oops, I just did "that" same exact thing norman, detroit, MI.....my apologies.......now,
"excuse me while I....." increase my meds:) BTW,
another great song from "Begger's Banquet" is
"Stray Cat Blues." Stones Rock!!
- cadence, flagler bch, FL
I love this song. Wicket bass line and lead guitar from Richards. Great vocals and lyrics from Jagger. BTW, norman, detroit, MI....placing
Jimi Hendrix in the same sentence as Hilary Duff ? Increase your medication, dude, its not working:)
- cadence, flagler bch, FL
For the record- both the brilliant guitar solo, and the brilliant bassline, were played by Keith, as noted already. Anyone who sat through "One Plus One" knows the song didn't take off until Keith grabbed the bass and started playing that great line. Whereas most bass players would have used a minor 3rd in a song about Satan, Keith whacks the major third before going down to the open A string. What this adds to the song is tremendous, as is the drive created by Keith's constant alternation between the E and D notes at the 7th and 5th frets and the open A string. The chromatic run leading to the change to the B note, 7th fret on the E string, is just great...You would almost think that Keith had some Music Theory training! It's just his incredibly musical ear... Stones bassist Bill Wyman, according to Stanley Booth's book on the Stones, told Jim Dickinson, who was playing piano at Muscle Shoals when the Stones were recording "Wild Horses', to throw away the chord chart he got from watching Keith play... "Don't pay any attention to Keith, he doesn't know what he's doing." Meaning he didn't know the names of the chords he was playing. So what? Who cares when it sounds so f**ckin' great??

I might add that "The Master and Margarita" is a great read. The Devil comes to town impeccably dressed, with his mysterious black cat, and proceeds to turn everything upside-down...good/evil, right/wrong, etc. Bulgakov is highly entertaining, and I believe the book, noted above as the inspiration for "Sympathy"'s lyrics, was originally banned in Russia...
- Andrew, New York, United States
This song contains the single most expressive guitar solo ever recorded! Sheer inspired brilliance from Keith Richards.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
2nd favirote stones song after "Paint it Black". Heres one for you. Which U2 song originally had Mick and his daughter on backing vocals? Im also a U2 fan btw.
- Aaron, Manistee, MI
well i was at the concert at madison squair garden ny ny when the did this song for the first time since the concert at altimine it was stated in press reles the next day what was wild about it the stones had a 50 or a 100 afircan percusionist band walk around the garden for a half hour playin drums etc then all of a suden the stones came on stage doin the song it was quintessinal any fogive the spelling whatya expect comin from north jersey the stones r the best thing in the world
- jim, boonton/aspenco, CO
This song is artistic genious as far as I am concerned. I never tire of it. It is in your face spiritual contemplation, mentioning some of the most controversial and tragic events of the last 100 years and implicating the devil had a hand in them. The FALL is significant for everyone, and that is why this song continues to stimulate us 40 years after it was written. Good sh*t Mick!
- Don, Huntington, WV
Great song and great lyrics. Actually it is about the killing of men by men. I rather preffer the remix by the neptunes, sounds a lil' better, and their video is much better. Okay, maybe the Devil-idea has been taken to far with this video, but still it's good.
This is the link to the vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFQDmS5ZIJw
- T. Michels, Venlo, Netherlands
No I don't think the Stones were Satanists, but they were highly interested in the acult for awhile. The song seems, in my opinion, to refer to the evil that is sometimes present in humans. Even though, it doesn't call out Hitler, Rasputin (spell check please), and Lee harvey Oswald to name a few, it does refer to their actions. They were all evil things that tookplace, and those people were extremely evil and brutal.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
I think this song would be more dramatic if the song's title didn't reveal that its about the devil. For example, it could have been named just simply "Sympathy" or something.
- Allen, Bethel, AK
Oops, a double post. Why does that always happen?
- Allen, Bethel, AK
I belive the piano part in this song inspired the piano (not the sytheziser) part in The Who's "Baba O'Riley". Townsend already was inspired by "19th Nervous Breakdown" to make "Substitute".
(http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1627)
- Allen, Bethel, AK
I belive the piano part in this song inspired the piano part (not the sytheziser) part in The Who's "Baba O'Riley". Townsend already was inspired by "19th Nervous Breakdown" to make "Substitute".
(http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1627)
- Allen, Bethel, AK
Casey Dalton GA, spot on. (james, Edwardsville, IL,) snap out of it. Do more reading and less typing.
- mark, worcester, MI
This one gets my vote for best song ever and I consider it my personal theme song ... and I'm not even a Satanist. In an interview, Keith spoke about his displeasure at people thinking that he was in league with the devil. Nothing beats being at a Stone's stadium concert when the entire audience joins in to sing the Whoo Whoo part to this song.
- Odin, San Jose, CA
I went to see the Stones in January at MSG
Mick sang this song dressed up as a pimp.
- Rob, Glendale, NY
If you want to read a similar perspective on the devil, then read "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky. There's one chapter where one of he main characters is talking with the devil, and it seemed to me very similar. Possibly inspired "The Master and the Margarita".
- Bill, Erie, PA
It's not that I want to be too critical, but when I read that people say this is 'the best (rock 'n roll) song that exists, they may be a little overreacting in my point of view. I mean, I think it's a good song, I haven't read the words yet but what I hear sound good. What I do mean is that it musicly, where we talk about, not very special is. a lot of repeating in the melody, not many instruments that are exchanging. no it is possible that the song doesn't need that, but that means still that it is far from a best song, 'cause that matches with lyrics and music perfect, and originates. now don't get me wrong I don't want to say that this isn't a good song, but try to be as much as possible an objective person to give comment to whether it is a good song or not, and not one you just like. I think the Stones have written better.
- Bram, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
Sympathy for the Devil is a good song. I don't think it's worshipping Satan, though; most of it's more ironic than serious. It's got a good sound, though.
James (Edwardsville), you're getting most of you ideas from the Bible and Genesis, but you're seriously distorting them. The Bible represents Satan as an evil rebel and God as a perfect God; if you accept the Bible as fact, then this has to be true. If the Bible is biased and susceptible, then none of it could be true and it's just a book; the concepts of God and Satan are useless. Don't pick and choose parts and think Lucifer might be a "good guy", because there you're just making stuff up. People might take what you say seriously (religion is something people base their lives on), so don't just imagine storylines and roles for God and Satan. You get people alternately pissed off and screwed up.
- Casey, Dalton, GA
If you can sit through (or fast forward through)the political rhetoric in Jean-Luc Godard's film "Sympathy for the Devil", the footage of the Stones creating this song in the studio is simply incredible. Rent it, borrow it or steal it...it is well worth the effort.
- Steve, Ottawa, Canada
Jim, Des Moines,
Dude? how do you know so much about them being satanists? And Why do you care??
- Ben, NYC, MS
This is an awsome song...one of the stones best. mick jagger does a awsome job on the vocals. this is a great song 2 listen to...i go insane whenever i hear it. the lyrics are awsome. and i dont think the rolling stones are satanists...but i gues nobody really knows except for them. and does it really matter anyway? you don't need to argue about if these guys are satanists or not...just listen 2 the music and enjoy it...its a fabulous song. keith richards is the coolest person to ever live
- Lucy, Da, TX
Kevin from NJ, I agree with you. It's got that same running narrative, and that same building sensation, where you feel something colossal is waiting just around the corner...
- Sam, Shanghai, China
I was listening to NPR a while ago, and they had a piece on santeria (voodoo). They mentioned the sacred drum rhythms they use to summon their spirits, then played a bit of them - it sounded like the beginning to Sympathy. I don't think this was a coincidence - and Mick/Keith's quotes about it being a "samba" rhythm plays down the santeria connection, although Mick refers to it. The sacred drums (bata) and the rhythm (toque) have spiritual potency that allows the music to call down the Orishas, invoking the spirits, and bring them to the ceremony where they possess initiates. Spirit possession is an important part of santeria and bata are a key part of inducing the possession in a ceremonial context.
- Benfacts, San Diego, CA
Gn'R, though the band had considerable talent back in thd day, should have never attempted such a feat as covering "Sympathy"; the song's instrumental sparsness - just piano, drums, and a few small guitar parts - is where its awesomeness lies. To smother the Stone's original groove with distortion is to kill its mojo completely.
- Lucus, Mount Airy, NC
The stones were not satanists and this song is about the evil of man andI believe that the devil is the evil within us
- elie, the u.k, England
1.Yes, Keith played bass and lead guitar on this song.
2."The bodies stank" is the correct line.
3.Comparing Guns-n-Roses (though a very good band) to the Stones is completely ridiculous. G-N-R did a lousy job with this song. Slash is a great player but even he wouldn't be so stupid as to claim he's better than Keith Richards.
4.Whoever it was that said the Stones were Satanists understands very little or nothing about the band. Yes, Kenneth Anger was briefly acquainted with the band. That's as far as that goes.
- Keith, Front Royal, VA
There is a scene in the Movie "The Stand" by Stephen King, when Randall Flagg (The Devil) intorduces himself to Lloyd, and says, "Please to meet you Lloyd, hope you guess my name."

Lloyd says "Huh?"

And Randall Flagg says, "Nevermind, it's a classical reference."

Funny.
- Chris, Claremont, NH
This is my favorite Stones song. Bar none.Jim from Phili, funny. Cowboy Bebop is pretty good, for an anime; itz the best I've seen. Oh, and Homero, caps lock key is located on the left side of computer, if you need directions. Sry, but that just really pisses me off. Interesting, Evan from Orlando. I had never made that connection before. I believe that if he/she exists, the Devil was banished from Heaven. But like James said, the devil may not even take pleasure in being evil. We have our own image of him/her don't we? We could be totally wrong. Go Angela!
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
or in jimi's case did them.
- norman, detroit, MI
remakes suck. i hate it when people steal other peoples ideas and use it for a profit. the sad thing is, everyone in thebuissnes does them. everyone from hilary duff to jimi hendrix.
- norman, detroit, MI
"the 100 Year's War was also a religious dispute. Just to let you know." - Brendon, Paxton, IL

And just to let you know Brendon, the 100 years war didn't last "ten decades" It lasted 11, closer to 12.
- rory, victoria, Canada
The Stones re-recorded the line about Kennedy (and pluralized it to Kennedys) as Bobby Kennedy was shot before the song was completed.
- Don, Newmarket, Canada
You know what? It is not often I say this, but, Guns N Roses took the song {Sympathy for the Devil} and made it their own.

People should never do a cover unless they can do it justice and not repeat it exactly or make it far worse. The Sundays took Wild Horses and made it their own too. So to Ash of Charleston, WV I say to you that both Guns N Roses and Rolling Stones should be revered equally for their contributions to the world of music.

Guns and Roses did only three cover songs released commercially that I know of {aside from the tragic Spaghetti Incident}: Live and Let Die, Knocking on Heaven's Door, & Sympathy for the Devil. Their original music very good.

If Axl Rose hadn't lost his marbles you would not think so poorly of the band. Axl has dragged the GNR name through the dirt with his Chinese Confederate Liberal hootenanny album that will never be released. He should have retired.

But don't dare knock the rest of the band have a listen to Appetite for Destruction sometime. There is golden timeless and legendary atmosphere there can never be recreated. That is rock and roll.

You would not like if I knocked The Rolling Stones. You should not try to compare bands from two completely different generations. The same vibes weren't happening. You know what? The Sex Pistols were only around for one album. They are still remembered and cherished.

I think that both The Rolling Stones and Guns N Roses shall be revered equally for their awesome contributions to rock history.

-Shannelle Kitchener, ON, Canada
- Shannon, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Does anyone know whether Keith Richards played lead guitar in this song? Because I heard somewhere that he played bass
- David, Merseyside, England
yeah, he's not very good anymore and should have stopped.
- james, edwardsville, IL
Round table discussion. What exactly makes a band the "greatest rock and roll band ever"? Hanging around until you wear out your welcome. Jagger was once quoted in Rolling Stone as saying "you won't catch me singing "Satisfaction" when I'm 40. No try 70. Enough already they were a great band now its time to cash it in. As far as "Sympathy for the Devil" goes its a good song, what keeps it from being great is that it has FAR to long a closing.
- Alan, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
The Stones version > every other version. the end.
- angela, london, Europe
This song is the greatest. Just proves that the Stones are the Greatest Rock and Roll band ever. If you go to a Catholic high school, in relgion class, say this is your favorite song.
- Jim, Philadelphia, PA
This song is bad ass. I'm pretty eclectic with my taste in music but this song is the best! I like the remixes too with NERD and Fat Boy Slim.
- Amanda, Pleasanton, CA
The ninth fact from the top isn't quite right. It's supposed to be (and the bodies stank).
- Casey, Chicago, IL
TELL ME IF I´M WRONG. MY DAD TOLD ME THAT WHEN THEY MADE THIS SONG, SOMETIMES STRANGE THINGS HAPPENED AT THE STUDIO, LIKE ELECTRIC ENERGY LACKS, STRANGE SOUNDS. SOMEONE WHO COULD TELL ME THIS PLEASE...
- Homero, Monterrey , Mexico
The song is about the evil side of mankind,and basically how satan is a part of it
- Erik, Cherry Valley, IL
Wow ok I don't care what religion you're from Jim, Des Moines, IA thats not relevant. Maybe the stones were satanists ( although I highly HIGHLY doubt it) but that doesn't change or effect what this song is about at all. All the lines in the song are refering to man kind, whatever way you look at it humans killed jesus, humans committed the holocaust,humans killed the kennedies, and humans( under religous influence mind you) caused the crusades.
- rory, victoria, Canada
Sorry guys. Yor're right it's "Bodies stank." The only reason I know it's on Ozzy's album is because I heard an interview with him.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
If I remember correctly the "furnace stank" line is in the song.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Face it, you morons. Guns 'N' frickin' Roses sucks. They will be forgotten in ten years. The Stones will be revered for ten generations. Stop comparing them!!! It's not even a valid argument. It's like comparing Anna Kournikova to Janet Reno. I love the movie "Interview With the Vampire." But as soon as the closing credits start, I'm on the Stop button of my remote control like a fat kid on a Milk Dud.
- Ash, Charleston, WV
Man bands and singers did covers of this song:
Tiamat, Laibach, Perl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Guster, David Byrne, Elliot Goldenthal, Janes Addiction, Louis Bertignac and Paul Personne, Natalie Merchant, Roxy Music & Bryan Ferry...
- Daniel, Warszawa, Poland
I was surprised to find this song only #32 on Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 songs. Some of the songs higher in the list like "Smells like Teen Spirit" and "Born to Run" as good as they are, pale in comparison. I guess all lists are subjective.
- Nathan, Defiance, OH
Ryan, I also read the book "dreamcatcher"(loved it btw) and thanks to this book I really wanted to listen to this song (I knew it but I never listened very good to the lyrics,..)
Now , it is one of my all time favourite songs.

But sadly they didn't put the song in the movie.
- Stefan, Antwerp, Belgium
the lyrics are 'the bodies stank' not 'furnace'. probably their best song, though 'gimme shelter' is my favorite. keith's in your face bass playing adds a dimension that bill wyman's playing lacks. grant it wyman is rock steady and i miss him.
- jason, york, PA
I like the live version on "Ya Ya's" much better than the studio version. It's interesting to see how Mick Taylor takes over the lead guitar from Richards, taking the song to a new level with his soulful string bends.
- tom, Freiburg, Germany
Can't believe how naive some people are. For crying out loud, the Stones were Satanists, and this song is PR for their master. Interesting info at:

http://www.filmsinreview.com/Features/CampDavid/campdavid4_nov.htm

"It is a well-documented fact that for a period of time in the late Sixties, Kenneth Anger was the official astrologer and flavor of the month for the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger composed music for one of Kenneth's films (INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER, 1969) and Keith Richards relied on Kenneth's reputation as a Magus. Keith's lady, Anita Pallenberg, was already considered a black queen in occult circles but did not impress Kenneth in the least."

Anybody who knows anything about Anger and Crowley knows they were Satanists.

Sheesh...Ok, flame on, you know you will...some people just won't let the facts get in the way of their emotional addictions.
- Jim, Des Moines, IA
Slash is an awesome guitarist, but GnRs cover wasn't nearly as good as the original
- blake, Kennesaw, GA, USA
Keith Richards is a much better guitarist than slash. And this is a great song, never gets old. One of The Stones best works, and especially one of Jagger's.
- Jonathan, Deltona, FL
This is #31 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
- Ross, Independence, MO
I remember reading that the "troubadors who got killed before they reached bombay" refers to the hippies who traveled the "hippie trail" by road. Many on them got killed and ripped off by drug peddlers in afghanistan and pakistan. Probably those shady deals were the "traps"
- Jose, Minneapolis, MN
Keith richards is a way better guitarist than Slash, tom (i'm a guns n' roses fan too) it don't get better than the mick and the keith! that song is awesome! sympathy for the devil!
- Jesse, london, England
come to think of it, lucifer is just about as evil as God. lucifer is after all just doing his job. but god, now there is a whole different category of evil. for example the story of noah: it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights. put 2 of each animal species on the ark. blah blah blah, you know the rest. what about everything else? god kills everybody but noah and his family. men, women, and children. what about a new born baby at the start of the flood? did that baby ever commit any sins? no, it did not. so then why did it deserve to be smitten? it didn't. what did hitler do? kill thousands upon thousands of people because they weren't a certain religion. what was god doing? the exact same thing. that's right, god is just as evil as hitler, maybe more so.
- james, edwardsville, IL
i kinda feel sorry for lucifer. i mean in my eyes, he's just one of God's helpers. i don't think of him as all that evil either. i think god spared him after his revolt in heaven to test the will of man and furthermore make sinners pay for their sins. he's just doing his job, i don't see why everybody thinks he's so evil.
- james, edwardsville, IL
I remember an interview where Mick (being an agnostic) says he doesn't really know if there is such a being as the devil, but that he thinks the poor guy gets a lot of undeserved grief. The song, he said, was an attempt to guess how Satan might portray himself. I suppose you could say Mick was playing "devil's advocate!" (sorry, I couldn't resist that last comment...)
- Eric, Cincinnati, OH
I thinkg the Guns N' Roses version is a lot better.
- e, New York, NY
Sumner from AK - the 100 Year's War was also a religious dispute. Just to let you know.
- Brendon, Paxton, IL
Ozzy Osbourne also covered "Sympathy For The Devil' on his Prince of Darkness Box-set.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
The guy who said all the stuff about the "furnace stank" and Hundred Year's War was wrong. The line about fighting for "Ten decades" for the "Gods They Made" is about the Crusades, which pretty much were scattered over a hundred year period. The religious wars were actually what I think is a bunch of xenophobia and overzealousness, over the "Gods They Made"- The Muslim and Christian gods. The "furnace stank" line isn't even in the song.
- Sumner, Paragould, AK
Alright I'll my friends want to kill me whenever I say this but, am I the only one that thinks this song is near identical (sans the samba rhythym) to "Jigsaw Puzzle" on the same album.
- kevin, Carteret, NJ
The worlds greatest rock song ever nothing can compare to it the lyrics are the most meaningfull keiths guitar solo is superb RIFF HARD KEEF it is excellent mick jaggers gave one of the best vocal performences of his life. this whole song is so great the best stones song ever.
- daniel, west covina, CA
I am writing a report on this song- Comparing the stone's version to that of GNR. I was wondering if anyone knew any good websites that gave an in depth analysis. Finally, i am able to write on some real poetry.
- David, jacksonville, FL
The GnR cover is okay. The Stones original is much better, and I don't even like them!! Check out the Neptunes remix of the Stones.......It is bad-ass!!
- ANDY, COLUMBUS, OH
The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were best friends at the time so it is doubtful that they were taking a pot-shot at the Beatles in the troubadours verse. Plus the Beatles were pooing all over the Stones album sales so they werent really in the position to critisize theyre publicity stunt
- Seblazo, Melbourne, Australia
I like it way better when GNR covered the song. They sounded so much better. Slah may say "it's the sound of the ban d breaking up". But I love their version.
- Jammie, Deckerville, MI
charlie, Thomaston, CT - Have to agree - this is definitely the best stones song - it was also the theme tune for the film 'fallen' starring denzil washington. Time is on my side also appeared in the film. Its a really good watch actualy - sorry (they havent got me on the payroll honestly!)
- adrian, merthyr tydfil, AL
best stones song ever, way better than satisfaction!
- charlie, Thomaston, CT
Phil Ochs' song "Crucifiction", on an A&M album of his, PLEASURES OF THE HARBOR, could easily be an "answer song" to "Sympathy For The Devil", in that his song was about martyr-ism and assinations or at least deaths of "heros" from Jesus Christ to John F. Kennedy, chronicled in the Rolling Stones song, too...
- Dave, Oak Park, MI
"I've only ever heard the Guns N' Roses version and I think it's brilliant! Is the original even better?
- Tom, Trowbridge, England" In a word, Tom, yes. My favorite Stones song. Since no one else has mentioned it, I'll add a note that the song featured prominently in the film "The Jericho Mile".
- Shell, Riverdale, GA
Re: the troubadours: I've wondered if it was some kind of tongue-in-cheek 'threat' or warning toward the Beatles who had either returned or were on their way to India during this time, weren't they ? The Fab four naturally received alot of publicity for this 'stunt' and perhaps the Stones, as their bad-boy rivals, were taking-a-piss at them. Ironically if you like, the Beatles manager,Brian Epstein, died while the Beatles were in India and the funeral hastened their return.
- Kevin, Tokyo, Japan
Jim, a little web searching revealed a couple pages with some insight to the question of the "troubadors who get killed before they reach Bombay"...

http://www.novogate.com/board/968/Archives/12-25-2002/132060-1.html
http://www.novogate.com/board/968/Archives/11-22-2002/127376-1.html

Unfortunately, neither of those have anything more than speculation as to the meaning. It seems only Mick knows for sure.
- Phil, Rochester, NY
if you listen to the begining of the track you hear a man and a womens voice. i was just wondering if this was simply some backround noise form the studio or an intentional part of the song. for some reason i think it may have a slight reference to adam and eve. they were the firsts sinners and had the first encounter with satan and they are heard at the start of the song. this explination probably seems pretty far off, but thats just what i think
- john, triangle , NC
I get all of the historical references in the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" except one. Who are the "troubadours who get killed before they reach Bombay"? Maybe all Brits would know this but we didn't study the British Raj very much in Oregon.
- Jim, Eugene, OR
Lyrically, the best song of all time.
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
The only song that's in the same league as 'Stairway to Heaven'.
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
Slash may be a much better guitarist than Keith Richards (you all have to admit that) but no one can sing this better than Mick Jagger. On the whole, the original is better. It sounds a lot more fun and lively and Mick Jagger's voice helps with that. There's something about Axl Rose's voice which I find very depressing.
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
This (and many other Stones songs) was used for the title of an episode of the anime Cowboy Bebop.
- Matt, Saugus, MA
i think everyone knows(or i hope they know!
)that this is about how we are as bad as the devil so we shouldn't look down on him so much
- charlie, Thomaston, DC
Gunners version is no where near as good as the original.
The Stones play this live on the Brigdes to Babylon DVD, and it is probably the best song they have ever done live.
- rhett, Melbourne, Australia
I like GNR's version a lot better, the entire song is more heavy and powerful. The Stones version was awesome, but Guns n Roses added a double guitar solo (and guitars in the verse as opposed to only piano). Sweet.
- Paul, Columbia, MO
Natalie Merchant covered this live; the track is on the bonus CD version of Tigerlily. It's a pretty good rendition.
- Paulo, New York, NY
Great Stones tune. Covered by, believe it or not, Blood Sweat & Tears in '71 (STRANGE?!).
- Robert, Chicago, IL
We did a project in english class to compare this song to lord of the flies
- Evan, Orlando, FL
My favorite stones song
- Brendan, Colts Neck, NJ
Keith Richards played the bass and electric guitar(great solo),Bill Wyman played the maracas,Rocky Dijon(african percussionist)played the congas,Nicky Hopkins played the piano and Mick Jagger sang a lead vocal.
- simon, Brno, Czech Republic
Stephen King also used this as the anthem of an airforce flight group in "Dreamcatcher", but I don't know if it was also in the movie version.
- Ryan, Redford, MI
I've only ever heard the Guns N' Roses version and I think it's brilliant! Is the original even better?
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
actually the guns n roses cover was done in 1994 along with the movie interview with a vampire was also released in 1994 the song was also quoted in the stephen king tv movie the stand
- jason, wylie, TX
"Sympathy for the Devil" is the greatest piece of music ever written, bar none. "Beethoven's 5th" runs a distant second.
- Ken, Dupont, PA
Mainly written by Mick Jagger, however Keith suggested the samba rhythm. Other notable Stones songs done mainly by Mick are Brown Sugar and Miss You. Songs mainly done by Keith include Tumblin Dice, Start Me UP, and Honkey Tonk Woman. Obviously most songs, including the ones above, all had a degree of collaberation.
- Danny, Grass Valley, CA
Richards has said the song was written with Kenneth Anger in mind. Anger is known to the general public for his books of Hollywood gossip HOLLYWOOD BABYLON. He is also an underground filmmaker and promoter of Aleister Crowley (see Mr. Crowley in Black Sabbath section)and had promoted Crowley to the 60's rock scene.
- Michael, Chicago, IL
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