What Is 'Sympathy for the Devil' About: Uncovering the Mystery Behind this Iconic Song

What Is ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ About: Uncovering the Mystery Behind this Iconic Song

The Mystery Behind the Iconic Song: Uncovering the True Meaning of “Sympathy for the Devil”


The Rolling Stones’ classic song “Sympathy for the Devil” has intrigued listeners for decades, leaving them with questions about its true meaning. Is it a celebration of evil or a deeper exploration of human nature? In this article, we will delve into the lyrics and history of this iconic song to uncover the mystery behind it.

The Historical Inspiration

The inspiration for “Sympathy for the Devil” came from the French author Baudelaire’s famous work “The Flowers of Evil,” which explored the nature of sin and temptation. Mick Jagger, the lead vocalist of The Rolling Stones, was greatly influenced by this work and sought to capture its essence through music.

Unmasking the Devil

The lyrics of “Sympathy for the Devil” provide a unique perspective on the Devil himself. Rather than portraying him as an evil being, the song presents him as a seductive, charming figure who is present throughout history, witnessing and provoking mankind’s dark acts.

The Devil’s Journey Through History

In each verse of the song, the Devil describes his involvement in various historical events, including the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Russian Revolution, and the murder of the Kennedy brothers. This narrative serves to highlight the Devil’s role as a catalyst for chaos and human suffering.

A Metaphor for Human Nature

Beyond the historical references, “Sympathy for the Devil” can be interpreted as a metaphor for the dark side of human nature. The Devil represents the inherent temptations, vices, and flaws that exist within each individual. By sympathizing with the Devil, the song urges listeners to acknowledge and confront their own inner demons.

Controversial Interpretations

Over the years, “Sympathy for the Devil” has faced controversy due to its unsettling subject matter. Some critics have accused the song of promoting evil or Satanism, but the band has consistently clarified that it is meant to encourage self-reflection rather than glorify wickedness.

Impact and Legacy

Despite the controversy, “Sympathy for the Devil” remains one of The Rolling Stones’ most iconic and enduring songs. Its powerful lyrics, infectious rhythm, and thought-provoking themes have resonated with audiences worldwide, solidifying its place in music history.


“Sympathy for the Devil” is a profound and thought-provoking song that continues to captivate listeners with its mystique and layered meaning. By exploring the lyrics and historical influences behind this iconic track, we gain a deeper understanding of the song’s true intent – to encourage introspection and contemplation of the darker aspects of human nature.


1. What is the meaning behind the song “Sympathy for the Devil”?

The meaning behind “Sympathy for the Devil” can be interpreted as an exploration of humanity’s capacity for evil, with the devil representing the darkest aspects of human nature. The song encourages empathy and understanding towards those who commit acts perceived as evil.

2. Who wrote and recorded the song “Sympathy for the Devil”?

“Sympathy for the Devil” was written and recorded by The Rolling Stones, with Mick Jagger credited as the primary songwriter and lead vocalist. The track was released in 1968 as part of their album “Beggars Banquet.”

3. What inspired Mick Jagger to write “Sympathy for the Devil”?

Mick Jagger drew inspiration for “Sympathy for the Devil” from a combination of sources, including the Russian novel “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov, which features the devil as a central character. The song was also influenced by the political and social upheaval of the late 1960s.

4. Are there any religious or biblical references in “Sympathy for the Devil”?

Yes, “Sympathy for the Devil” contains several religious and biblical references. It alludes to the devil’s role in various historical events, such as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the temptations in the Garden of Eden, emphasizing the devil’s presence throughout human history.

5. What is the significance of the repetitive nature of the lyrics in “Sympathy for the Devil”?

The repetitive nature of the lyrics in “Sympathy for the Devil” serves to emphasize the devil’s persistent presence and influence, highlighting how evil can adapt and survive throughout time. The refrain “Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name” suggests that the devil can take various forms and can be encountered in different circumstances.

6. How was “Sympathy for the Devil” received upon its release?

Upon its release, “Sympathy for the Devil” initially received mixed reviews. Some critics accused The Rolling Stones of glorifying evil, while others appreciated the song’s clever lyrics and its exploration of darker themes. However, over time, it has become recognized as one of the band’s most iconic and influential tracks.

7. Has “Sympathy for the Devil” been covered by other artists?

Yes, “Sympathy for the Devil” has been covered by numerous artists from various genres. Notable covers include those by Guns N’ Roses, Jane’s Addiction, Motorhead, and Bryan Ferry. The song’s enduring popularity has resulted in its inclusion in many live performances and tribute albums.

8. Was “Sympathy for the Devil” ever controversial?

Yes, “Sympathy for the Devil” faced controversy upon its release due to its provocative lyrics and exploration of taboo subjects. Some religious groups and conservative voices accused The Rolling Stones of promoting Satanism and claiming that the song had a negative influence on society. However, the controversy ultimately added to the song’s notoriety and cultural impact.

9. Has “Sympathy for the Devil” been featured in any films or TV shows?

Yes, “Sympathy for the Devil” has been featured in numerous films and TV shows. It has appeared in iconic movies like “Interview with the Vampire,” “Seven,” and “Goodfellas,” among many others. The song’s usage in these productions further solidified its status as a cultural touchstone.

10. How has “Sympathy for the Devil” influenced popular culture?

“Sympathy for the Devil” has had a significant influence on popular culture. Beyond being a staple in The Rolling Stones’ catalog, the song has been referenced and parodied in countless movies, TV shows, and songs by other artists. Its lasting impact showcases the power of the song’s message and its memorable composition.