No I haven’t suddenly gone all ultra nice, as many of you know the title of this blog is actually the 1st line of the classic Rolling Stones song”Sympathy for the devil”
A song which is often misunderstood for being some satanic worshiping bit of musical poetry, but it couldn’t be further away from that. The song is really a summary of events the Stones contribute to Beelzebub, but from the perspective that an element of him is in all of us.I have also heard people, who hate history, say how much they love this song not realizing it is a song only about historic events. Below is a breakdown of some of the events.
“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”
During the crucifixion, while in pain, Jesus cries out asking God why he has been forsaken. The narrator claims to have witnessed this but also may be insinuating that he (the devil) influenced this. The devil is also said to cause believers in God to doubt their faith.
“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Elohai, Elohai, lama shachachthani?’ which is, being interpreted, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken (forgot) me?’” – Mark 15:34
According to the Bible, Pontius Pilate was the judge at Jesus’s trial and the man who ordered his execution. He is said to have “washed his hands” of the matter (refusing responsibility)
“I stuck around St. Petersburg. When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers”
In the song Satan(as the narrator) admits to once again influencing major (and majorly questionable) global events, taking credit for the Russian Revolution of 1917 which led to the rise of Communist Soviet Union (or U.S.S.R., Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). On July 17, 1918, the Bolsheviks executed the royal family of the last Czar Nicholas II of Russia sealing the fate of their former rulers, and of their country.
“I rode a tank. Held a general’s rank.When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank”
This implies that the narrator was right with Hitler throughout the Holocaust, associating Hitler with the devil. He was in the battle field, leading Blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) attacks through Europe (mostly Poland and France), of which tanks were an important part.
The 1939 Blitzkrieg in Poland took place in hot weather. The German army was moving fast and killing civilians as well as Polish soldiers, leaving the bodies to rot. However, the lines are ambiguous enough that they might also be a reference to the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish population of Europe. The reference is elided enough to contain both interpretations in describing, in its satanic glee, the horrors of WWII.
“I shouted out, ‘Who killed the Kennedys?’”
This song was recorded before Robert Kennedy died, so the original line was “Who killed Kennedy?” (referring to JFK).It was changed after Robert’s death, since now both brothers were gunshot victims.
“When after all It was you and me”
By saying “you and me”, the devil associates all of mankind with himself. He doesn’t put the blame of the Kennedys deaths on the shooters, but on the character and corruption of all humans.
“And I laid traps for troubadours. Who get killed before they reached Bombay”
This line 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.
“Just as every cop is a criminal. And all the sinners saints”
There is good and evil in everyone, don’t try to make it such a black and white statement.
So next time you listen to this song show it some courtesy some sympathy, and some taste..
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