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Sympathy for the Devil

The Rolling Stones

Sympathy for the Devil Lyrics

[Verse 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 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


[Chorus]
Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game


[Verse 2]
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 general's rank
When the Blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank


[Chorus]
Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game


[Verse 3]
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 reach Bombay


[Chorus]
Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game


Oh yeah, get down heavy!
[Guitar Solo]

[Chorus - Variation]
Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name, oh yeah
But what's confusin' you is just the nature of my game


[Verse 4]
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


[Chorus]
Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game


[Instrumental outro with scatting and ad-lib vocals]

More on Genius

About “Sympathy for the Devil”

This song is sung in first person form, with Mick Jagger playing no one else but Satan himself. He documents events through history that could be seen as “works of the devil.” The Rolling Stones took some serious heat for singing a song from the devil’s perspective, but the point of the song is more about the flaws in mankind. It was never intended as devil worship.

There was a rumor that this song was playing when a fan died at the Rolling Stones gig at the Altamont Free Concert, but it was actually “Under My Thumb.” Despite that, the Stones didn’t perform this song for at least 5 years (as they played it on tour in 1975) after the incident.

These lyrics were inspired by the book “The Master and Margarita” written by Mikhail Bulgakov. In this book Devil (and his ‘gang’) roam around Moscow in the 1930s and play tricks on stupid/greedy people.

  • Who sang the background vocals?

    The backing vocals are provided by Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts, Nicky Hopkins, Anita Wallenberg, and Marianne Faithfull.

  • What did the devil cause after all of these things

    The song’s purpose is not a magnification or glorification of the evil demonstrated by the events it portrays. Rather, the events establish the devil’s enormous power as evidence of our inferior position in relation to him. Yet, it is this inferiority that demands our sympathy; for, if we are unable to sympathize with evil, we are susceptible to falling victim to it.

  • What have the artists said about the song?

    Keith Richards:

    (he was unsure)…whether it should be a samba or a goddamn folk song

    and –

    Before, when we were just innocent kids out for a good time [the media said], ‘They’re evil, they’re evil. So that makes you start thinking about evil… . Everybody’s Lucifer.“

  • Who was the piano player?

    Nicky Hopkins, who accompanied the Stones from the 60’s to the 90’s.

"Sympathy for the Devil" Track Info